top of page

Releasing the potential in change

Organisational change and development is critical for any organisation to maintain and improve performance within a rapidly changing environment.

The context of organisational change and development, driven by the recent pandemic, has forced many organisations to re-consider how they do business or serve their clients. For these changes to land successfully, it is increasingly critical that organisations build the right plans to take their people on the journey through the changes.

In my experience, failure to effectively manage the people aspects of change is more likely to be the cause of failure to deliver improvements than the strategy itself or the design of structures, systems and/or processes.

In this blog, I’ll explore what change management is, and I’ll share some ideas on how leaders can plan effectively for change.

What is change management?

Put simply, I believe that effective management of change is the management of activities that ensure people are willing, and able to go on the journey and fully contribute to help shape how organisations change. Without an effective change management approach – organisations and leaders are likely to spend huge amounts of time during projects mitigating the impact of resistance to the changes.

My own thinking has been shaped through extensive experience in leading change (making mistakes and learning through experience at times) as well as working with organisations and leaders going through change. I am in absolutely no doubt that implementation of an effective change management approach is equally as important as the project management activities related to the design and implementation of any structures, systems, data and/or processes that will change.

It is the culture, communication, engagement, development and involvement approaches that tend to feature in “Post mortem” lessons learned when change fails .….rather than the solutions being implemented.

Put bluntly, it is often not the change itself that is the issue, but the failure to consider the people being affected by the change one way or another.

So how can leaders plan for change effectively?

Taylor Clarke has developed a model for Releasing Potential In Change as a structured way to help organisations focus on the human aspects of change and to help as they build a culture that creates the psychological climate for successful embedded change.

Our approach has been developed over thirty years working alongside leaders and senior executives. Our approach takes from and builds on the globally recognised work of John Kotter, Daryl Connor, Dan Denison et al.

In our model, I consider each of the six steps to be as critical as the next in helping ensure that the potential in the desired change is fully released.

Visible and active sponsorship of change by leaders is critical. The six steps focus the change leader’s energy and influence, beginning with articulating the Compelling Purpose (e.g. why is the new system is required and what benefits it will bring?... what’s in it for colleagues/customers/clients?) and working round each stage to, finally, Embedding Behaviours (including specifying what the new behaviours are: to start, stop, do more or less of.)

At the centre of the model, there are four levers – each of which requires to be pulled to engage the hearts and minds of the team. These levers focus on the hidden elements that relate to the human psychology of change which are often misunderstood and consequently mishandled. The levers are shown below:

  • We think: deals with what we know and the beliefs we hold.

  • We can: focuses on our behaviours and abilities.

  • We feel: addresses our motivation, engagement and commitment.

  • We're allowed (and “encouraged”): relates to the organisation environment, climate & culture.

In our blog. my colleague, Alistair Brown, shares his thoughts on how leaders can adapt their approach in a period of constant change. In this blog, you can read about the Bridges model of transition. I’ve found the Bridges model particularly helpful in working with organisations to help them as they Diagnose Impact & Readiness for change (our third step) and also as they put plans in place to help colleagues deal with the potential negative (or perceived negative) aspects of change. Change management is about building these plans up front and before starting to Mobilise Commitment and Engaging Everyone (steps four and five).

Of course, once the Compelling Purpose of change has been determined, and Leadership Aligned, change projects can be pushed ahead with some success. But in my experience, and in the experience of leaders I have spoken to, cutting corners on the steps that allow communication plans to fully consider the impact of change on colleagues (Diagnosing Impact) then, more likely than not, any time saved will be more than used up overcoming resistance as leaders Engage Everyone and as they try to move to Embedding Behaviours.

In short, taking time to consider and understand natural fears of change, and to develop an approach to help people work through these is far more likely to lead to success than any approach that focusses on trying to sell the ‘shiny new thing’ !

Can Taylor Clarke Help You?

We have been evolving our management of change framework and tool kit to help us work collaboratively with clients. We help client organisations navigate their way through a process which helps identify the changes they want to make, understand the cultural challenges and to be more intentional around how they lead and shape their approach to communicating and embedding those changes.

If you are interested in finding out about how Taylor Clarke can help you plan and/or implement organisational change, then please get in touch with the Taylor Clarke team here


Written by Dougie Ritchie

With deep experience gained through many years leading and supporting organisational change impacting global teams, Dougie is also a qualified Prosci Change Management and Agile Project Management Practitioner as well as being a qualified Executive Coach. He has worked with senior leaders in both the Private and Public Sectors (including Scottish Government and NDPBs) helping them define and implement their organisational strategy and change management plans.


bottom of page