The Change Framework (Episode 1/9) by Jonathan Parnaby

Episode 1/9: The Change Framework

Blueprint for Success”

So, you’re interested in the topic of Change Management and how people go through the Kubler-Ross change curve (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance and Moving On)? More importantly, you’ve decided you want to help people transition through that process as part of your professional career.  You may have chosen to go on some Change Management courses and learn about a variety of change management models ranging from Kotter, Lewin and dozens more. Hopefully, you’ve been given the opportunity within an organisation to become a Change Manager for a large-scale Business Transformation Programme which you’re obviously excited and a little bit nervous about, I mean you’ve finally got a chance to make a real difference by focusing on the people aspect of change.  Then the reality sets in on your first week, up until this point you’ve learnt a lot of theory but now you’re sat in your first Programme Board meeting and the Programme Director is staring directly into your eyes and asks you “how are you physically going to get the business to change and transform?” and you need to have a good answer.

In the first episode of The Practical Change Manager, I want to focus on Change Frameworks, the simple reason is that without a defined change framework it’s a bit like building a skyscraper without a solid blueprint, disaster.  

Your first task as Change Manager is to define which framework the programme is going to adopt and there are plenty to choose from.  The main reason for this is that every organisation, team and person is different so to have a one size fits all change framework is likely to fail.  Being specific I’ll show you what I created on a very real change programme which is outlined in the drawing below.

This framework is broken down into 2 main phases:

  • Change Planning (Waterfall) – This is a very structured phase first establishing the foundations of what the change is all about, defining what the change is and means to the business and then assessing and preparing plans.
  • Change Execution (Iterative) – This is a more fluid and iterative process by executing communications, training, organisational design, business readiness activities all linked together from a control room (more on those in a future episode).

Each phase has several related stages but rather than use a business example to bring these to life I’m going to use a personal one instead.  

Step 1 – Establish & Vision - I remember last year me and my wife sat down and had a discussion that something in our lives had to change since we moved out of our town into a village, our daughter was still going to school in the town.  The commute to take her to school took a 1 hour to get her there each trip (if we were lucky) and we had just had our son.  Due to the proximity of our daughter’s school, it was extremely unlikely that our son would attend there so we had our catalyst for change with other tangible benefits (getting back 2 hours a day and saving ¼ tank of fuel per week).

Step 2 – Change Definition - We sat down and looked at the change impacts.  How would this affect our daughter? How would this impact her friends? Will she fit in with the new environment?  We carefully weighed up those change impacts and identified how we could address each one so we were prepared for when we spoke to her.

Step 3 – Change Preparation - At this stage, my daughter was completely unaware whilst we were assessing those change impacts.  Once we looked over them we put in a draft plan together to get my daughter from being un-aware to being fully prepared.  This included a variety of activities in Change Execution and started with when and how we were going to tell her the news.

Step 4 – Awareness & Engagement – It’s fair to say that we didn’t expect the announcements to go down well, so we had to think carefully about when to tell her.  We sat her down on a Friday after school so she had the weekend to let the news sink in, and it was tough, there were tears, she didn’t want to lose her friends and begged us “not to make her move schools”.  Because we planned, we had answers to her questions which helped her to come to terms with the changes. We had planned to have multiple sit downs with her and to highlight the benefits to her, e.g. shorter travel distances to school (she could walk or take her bike/scooter), more time in the morning without rushing to the car and best of all new friends in the village who she could see outside of school.

Step 5 – Education & Training – We decided to let her trial some of the changes early on for example “practice school runs on her bike” and go school dress shopping (they have different colour schemes).  This helped her to visualise the changes and what it meant personally to her.  She started to openly discuss the change with her friends at her local Rainbow Girl Guiding group and found out that some of them would be at her new school.  The school itself had a trial morning so she could meet her class before she started.

Step 6 – Stakeholder Preparation – Now she was getting excited for the change and wanted to get prepared for her new school such as new stationery and book bags.  We had a checklist of items which she had on the fridge so she could tick them off once each readiness item was complete (it doesn’t matter how old you are we all love ticking items off).

Step 7 – Adoption & Realisation – Then came the morning of her first day of her new school and I sat her down and asked if she was nervous and she replied: “No, I can’t wait to start school, I’ve already made 4 friends when I visited the other morning”. 

What do you think is important when choosing or creating your own frameworks for change management? Do you think the above framework could work for your organisation? Feel free to engage with the community in the comments below.

In the next episode, I’ll be bringing to life the core foundation of any change approach which is capturing Change Impacts


Jonathan Parnaby is a Digital & Business Transformation professional who specialises in Change Management, Programme Management and Business Analysis.

Jonathan has 10 years of business transformation experience across multiple sectors having performed a variety of project roles in Dunelm Ltd, Alliance Boots plc and Viridor Ltd.

Jonathan currently resides in the South West of the UK and is the founder and owner of The Transformation Office Ltd, a boutique consultancy which tailors its services around their clients’ requirements, goals and future capabilities.