Planning For Change By Understanding Change Transition Model Steps


One of the roles I play as a project manager is to introduce technology changes into the organization.  I will refer to the person leading the change as the Change Agent.  The amount of change varies from project to project.   One project could implement a large change to a user’s role while another project has just a minor change to the user’s application system.  When I plan a project I always need to factor in the amount of change that is being introduced into the organization.    


In order to implement “Planned Change” into an organization requires some planning and preparation.  The Change Agent will need to understand the natural human reaction to change is resistance.   Each person that is impacted by a change will also transition through four steps before they accept the change into their life.

In order to “Plan for Change” you need to understand the following two elements:

·         Resistance –  What is Resistance and What is its Value

·         Change And Transition Model – Four steps that individuals move through

Human Dynamics Play a Role

As we think about introducing change to an organization we need to understand the human dynamics that are in play.  As the Change Agent in order to lead the change it will involve encouraging people to keep moving through the four step model.  It will be important to keep in mind these factors as you plan for change:

  • Change – an awareness of where each individual is (their perception of the change) and it will be impacted by several things including:
    • External Events – other events in their life outside of the organization
    • Outward Occurrences
    • Create or impose their own perception of the change
  • Transitions – each person will move transition to the next step based on the following:
    • Internal reactions – may be negative at first
    • Inward Adjustments – they may internalize the change before they can accept it
    • Chosen – they will then decide or choose how they transition through the model

Change And Transition Model

The diagram below depicts the transition that the team and its members go through upon the announcement of a change.  We have productivity on one axis and time on the other axis.   So we are assuming prior to the announcement of a change (upper left on the screen) that the person/team was performing at a high level.  The Red line indicates the productivity of the individual as they move through the model.

Insert Diagram

The following are the details of the four steps of the model and what action the change agent should do to help the individual through the transitions:

  • Denial
    •  Upon the announcement of the change the team/person will go thru various emotional states starting with Denial, Anxiety, Shock, and Confusion.  All of these emotions will also have a negative impact on productivity.
    • Change Agent Action Steps – a PM or leader we can counter these emotions with information.
  • Resistance
    •  The next stage Resistance contains some additional emotions (resignation, anger, and fear). The productivity is continuing to decline and will hit its lowest point in this stage. 
    • Change Agent Action Steps – As a PM or leader we can counter these emotions by listening.
  • Exploration
    •  The next stage Exploration contains some additional emotions (thoughtful, impatient, and hopeful).  During this stage the productivity will begin to rise.
    • Change Agent Action Steps – As a PM or leader we can counter these emotions by involving the team.
  • Acceptance
    • The next stage Acceptance contains some additional emotions (relief, anxiety, trust, and acceptance).
    • Change Agent Action Steps – As a PM or leader we can counter these emotions by implementing a reward system or rewarding the team/members efforts


It is important to plan for change to help your team transition through the change.  By planning you will accelerate the transition of the individuals through the change and that will have a positive impact on the productivity of the individual.

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