Change Management Tools and Techniques: The Complete List

Change management is a multidisciplinary profession. It relies on models from psychology, organisational design, systems thinking, and more.

Much is academic, theoretical and conceptual.

It is easy to forget how change managers and change management teams get things done: The everyday change management tools and techniques that are crucial to success.

Here, I make things easier for you. You’ll find a suite of change management tools. I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each and describe how to use them.

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus:
Free download of Change Management Tools Powerpoint Slide Template. These slides are easily customizable, helping you implement change management for maximum success.
Download the Bonus
Plus: Get Access to my Free 7 part Email Course on “Introduction to Leading Change.”

Why use change management tools?

Tools make task completion easier. Consider attempting to change a wheel on your car without a jack and spanner. But owning a spanner and jack is not enough in itself. You must also know how to use them.

When I coach change managers, I insist on meticulous use of change management tools. This ensures they have an in-depth understanding of what each tool does and how it helps to deliver change with minimal risk. After working with these tools for a few projects, change managers are better equipped to improvise.

Contents: click to jump

– Assessing impact – 

1. Interviews

Interviews are a great tool for collecting specific information.


  • Personal
  • Intimate
  • They are ‘anonymous’ – it is between you and the person you interview


  • Some people might be intimidated and shy;
  • People can claim or exaggerate. There is no one sanctioning, qualifying or calibrating what is said.
  • They have a narrow focus, and so may suffer from a lack of diversity.
  • They require a big investment of time.


  • For confidential projects, arrange a private area. Participants should be able to arrive and leave without being seen.
  • Use a pre-prepared list of questions. Ensure that each interviewee is asked the same questions.
  • Take notes, summarise, and publish to the participants for transparency.
  • Don’t be afraid to interrupt and improvise as more details are provided.
  • Summarise points made, and clarify for understanding (e.g. “It seems to me…” or “What I’m hearing is…”).
  • Be polite and professional. Resist the temptation to agree or disagree with issues raised.

[back to contents]

 2. Focus groups

Focus groups bring a small selection of people together. They allow you to gather information about their experiences, preferences, opinions or reactions. You use these with any stakeholders you wish to learn about as a group. This may include employees, managers, customers, suppliers, and so on.


  • Groups are self-sanctioning. When people raise personal concerns, the views of others will confirm or deny.
  • You can ask people follow-up questions in real-time.
  • You can ask for specifics to improve your understanding of issues.
  • You can group participants by common factors. These may include age, gender, education, etc. This lets you assess group responses accurately.
  • You may also have these group sessions observed by third parties, perhaps via one-way mirrors or video link.


  • Some people may be nervous about voicing opinions and feelings in front of others
  • Vocal individuals can dominate the room
  • Recent events can colour opinions about the subject matter, though they may have nothing to do with the topic


  • Decide the goals and scope of your change initiative before arranging focus groups. This lets you decide on who should be included, and in which groupings (e.g. employees, managers, by age, or mixed).
  • Schedule well in advance, and send reminders 48 hours before the focus group event. Have a ‘substitutes bench’ so that absentees are replaced. Let everyone know what to expect, the subject matter, and goals of the event.
  • Aim for a length of between 60 and 90 minutes.
  • Ensure the confidentiality of the focus group. There is no need for name tags. Take notes, and at the end of the event read them to the group to ensure you have all the details correct.
  • You should have pre-prepared questions to ask. 10 is a good number. Remember that you may also need to ask follow-up questions.
  • Participants should be willing volunteers – don’t force people to take part.
  • Emotions may run high within the focus group. You must manage these and calm overheated discussion.
  • Take note of patterns and themes. Probe these with later focus group sessions.
  • Always start on time. Late arrivals should join in when they arrive or be asked to come to another session.
  • Ask management to agree that participants will receive a summary of the focus group event.

[back to contents]

3. Surveys and Questionnaire

A survey is a research method you can use to collect and analyse information. You will need to decide what questions you must ask and who you must ask. You must decide on how to deliver the survey questionnaire, how you ensure validity and the analysis method.

In change management, you use surveys to help identify stakeholders’ expectations, measure satisfaction, and determine what you must improve.


  • When compared to interviews and focus groups, surveys save time
  • You can deliver a survey to a large, diverse group and collect a lot of information
  • A survey is a valuable tool to integrate into an assessment and improvement approach


  • Beware of survey fatigue! People become bored with surveys. There is rarely any direct benefit for them, and most people don’t like completing surveys.
  • Those people who do respond are most likely to be ‘biased’, and usually on the negative side.
  • You must construct your survey with care to solicit meaningful data.
  • To give you meaningful data, you must design and construct them properly.


You should first analyse previous survey data, such as annual employee surveys. You may not need to do another survey. If a survey is needed, you should remind people constantly. Internal surveys receive an average response rate of 30% to 40%. To maximise responses, you should remind people constantly. My experience is that five or six reminders will improve response rates.

Surveys can be an excellent way to pull out qualitative and quantitative data. They are powerful tools when combined with focus group processes.

Points to consider when designing questions:

  1. Begin the questionnaire with a simple question.
  2. Use concise sentences.
  3. Use words and language that respondents will understand.
  4. Ask only one item per question.
  5. Provide balance in responses.
  6. Offer a ‘neutral’ response choice.
  7. Offer ‘Not applicable’ or ‘Does not apply’ as a choice.
  8. Use a natural flow for questions.
  9. Create categories that cover all possible responses and are mutually exclusive.
  10. Keep the questionnaire as short as possible.
  11. Do not include identifying questions.
  12. Be consistent with the way you word questions. To properly understand the data you must use the same questions on subsequent surveys to accurately assess trends.

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus:
Free download of Change Management Tools Powerpoint Slide Template. These slides are easily customizable, helping you implement change management for maximum success.
Download the Bonus
Plus: Get Access to my Free 7 part Email Course on “Introduction to Leading Change.”

[back to contents]

4.  Flowcharting or process mapping

Flowcharting, or process mapping, is a simple and effective way to understand what is changing. Flowcharts help people walk through a process one step at a time.

You map the current state against the proposed state. This helps you work out what changes are needed and how they will impact change stakeholders.


Process maps and flowcharts can become confusing. I recommend that you keep them simple. This way all can understand them.

The following are the universal symbols that make up the language of process mapping:

Identify where you are now, and where you want to be. Engage people who do the work to define an appropriate start and stopping points. Create your flowchart by drawing a circle to signify the beginning of the process. Draw a connecting line with an arrow to the first process. Continue through each task, using the symbols above, until you reach your destination.


[back to contents]

5. Forcefield (barrier and aids) analysis

Screenshot 2016-08-01 12.08.53

A Force field Analysis, also known as a “Barriers and Aids Analysis”, is a tool to help you consider the forces that drive (aids) change and those that inhibit it (barriers). This helps you decide whether to do more to promote change or manage resistance to change.


  • It helps to identify how stakeholders are affected by change.
  • It forces you to consider the negative effects of the proposed change.


  • You must decipher what is real from what is made up.
  • You should confirm a Force Field Analysis with real data. Often, this will be from focus groups, interviews or surveys.


Force Field Analysis can be used in two ways:

  1. Brainstorming of barriers and aids.
  2. Synthesise existing data from interviews, focus groups or surveys.

[back to contents]

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus:
Free download of Change Management Tools Powerpoint Slide Template. These slides are easily customizable, helping you implement change management for maximum success.
Download the Bonus
Plus: Get Access to my Free 7 part Email Course on “Introduction to Leading Change.”

– Communications and Engagement –

6. Stakeholder analysis

Stakeholder analysis is a method to discover who a project’s stakeholders are. It also helps to identify what matters to them. It is a critical step in the change management process. You should carry out stakeholder analysis before you begin engaging stakeholders. This will help you categorise stakeholders into groups.

You might categorise by many factors. These include as geography, recognised bodies or institutions, income groups, land ownership, real or perceived views of the change initiative, etc. You’ll find that your groups are diverse. People may or may not categorise themselves into the group you have selected.

In stakeholder analysis, you must include everyone. If you don’t, you may have some resistance to manage. I once worked on a project in which we excluded two of many, many stakeholders. These were big hitters, bringing in very large deals. They had the power to stop the project until their needs were resolved.


  • Identify stakeholders.
  • Cast the net far and wide. Look internally and externally.
  • Categorise the stakeholders (also known as stakeholder mapping).

There are many ways to categorise stakeholders. My favoured strategies include considering the amount of engagement required (e.g. providing information only or consulting), and the amount of influence the stakeholder might exert or the impact they might have on change success.

Note that you start with what you know. Think about the needs of stakeholders, and the impact of change on them. You should validate your assumptions through the lifecycle of the change project. You can do this by conducting interviews, workshops, focus groups, and real-time impacts of solutions as they are implemented.

Saved Photo copy

[back to contents]

7. ‘What’s in it for me?’ (WIFM) framework

‘What’s in it for me?’ analysis helps you identify the needs and attitudes of all change stakeholders. This helps you understand how others view the change. Thus, you get a better idea of how to manage their reactions to the change initiative.


  • Start on this as soon as you become involved in the change initiative. Before people have taken up ‘positions’.
  • Plan when, how, and to whom you will communicate.
  • Involve key people and groups.
  • Understand that people will act emotionally, and may not on facts. People behave according to their perceptions.
  • Revisit WIFM throughout the lifecycle of the change initiative.

An effective WIFM model looks as follows:


[back to contents]

8. Arguing the Case – the 3 ‘D’s

Unless you bring people on board with the need for change, it will fail. They must understand the reasons for change, and see the urgent need for change. However, people will feel that there is a risk of making a change.

This change management tool helps you to build need and urgency to move on from the status quo. You should develop it with the people who will lead change. Further, involve people in change conversations throughout.


  • Begin by approaching internal and external sources. Use storyboards and storytelling techniques to communicate vision and purpose.
  • Compare to other companies or projects, and show the success that others have had from taking a similar approach.
  • Create non-confrontational strategies to prove the case for change.
  • Show the risk of not changing, and compare to the benefit of moving forward.


[back to contents]

– Assessing readiness –

9. Brainstorming creative solutions – Six Thinking Hats

Brainstorming engages people and solicits a wide range of views and opinions. However, brainstorming can degenerate into internal confrontation. Creative thinking guru Edward De Bono eliminated this problem when he developed the ‘Six Thinking Hats’ technique. This is a creative way to structure thinking. This method is usually employed in group brainstorming sessions. You may also use it when brainstorming on your own.

The six imaginary hats force you to think in parallel, rather than consider everything simultaneously. Each hat is a different colour and represents a different type of thinking:

  • White Hat – Focus of white discussion is to gather background data
  • Red Hat – Discuss initial thoughts and feelings
  • Yellow Hat – Benefits and feasibility
  • Black Hat – Weaknesses, Risks, Problems
  • Green Hat – Creative thinking, generate alternatives
  • Blue Hat – Summarise and review

When you ‘put on’ one of the hats, you limit yourself or the group to the hat’s mode of thinking.



  • Define your focus for the meeting and set your goals
  • Set a thinking sequence
  • Use whichever hats are needed, in the order that you have defined


Here is a proposed sequence that might work for you:

  • White Hat – Gather background data
  • Red Hat – Discuss initial thoughts and feelings
  • Yellow Hat – Benefits and feasibility
  • Black Hat – Weaknesses, risks and problems
  • Green Hat – Creative thinking, generate alternatives
  • Yellow Hat – Benefits and feasibility
  • Blue Hat – Summarise and review

[back to contents]

10. Buy-in index

Do you want to measure how people’s attitudes to change are developing through the lifecycle of a change initiative? The Buy-in index is a great tool to do this. Simple and useful, it is one of my favourite change management tools.

A short survey allows you to compare current attitudes and feelings compared to previous. It also provides comparisons between stakeholders, departments and teams within the organisation.


  • Devise relevant and easy-to-understand questions/statements.
  • Ask recipients to rate on a scale of 1 to 5, from (for example) strongly disagree to strongly agree.
  • Deliver the survey in the most appropriate way. This may be online or via hard copy. If delivering online, a tool like SurveyMonkey may be used.
  • Survey at various times during the project lifecycle, using the same questions.
  • The first survey should be after initial training but before implementation. This will help to identify activities needed to break down barriers to implementation.
  • Mid-implementation. This highlights current risks and issues, allowing you to develop strategies to move the project forward.
  • Post-implementation. This survey lets you identify risks and issues that have become apparent after implementation of a project.

Example statements that you could use in a Buy in index survey include:

  • I understand the new operating model and my role within it.
  • I believe that the new operating model will improve our performance.
  • Senior management is committed to implementing the new operating model.
  • I understand what I need to do to ensure the new operating model works effectively.
  • I believe we have the capabilities and culture we need to implement the new operating model effectively/quickly.
  • People in my area are fully committed to implementing the new operating model.

[back to contents]

11. Change readiness assessment

Many of the risks associated with change are associated with people, not process. Forcing new processes and procedures onto people who are not ready is foolish.

Change Readiness Assessments provide snapshots of the current organisational culture and people’s behaviours. They help you avoid change failure by ensuring your people are ‘ready’ for the change.

A Change Readiness Assessment usually involves a survey of employees at various levels of the organisation. This helps to determine their acceptance of the proposed change, identifying:

  • Awareness of the proposed change and the effect on people
  • The level of confidence in management to deliver change and support staff through the initiative
  • Individual style and behaviours
  • The ability of current corporate culture to aid the process of change and remove barriers
  • Communication requirements and capabilities
  • Methods and processes required to ensure that the organisation is prepared for change


  • Deliver the change readiness assessment by questionnaire
  • Review with working groups (small, less complex projects) or against a pre-implementation survey (large, more complex projects)
  • Supplement the questionnaire with one-to-one meetings or team sessions

Example of readiness criteria:

Business Redadiness Criteria

[back to contents]

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus:
Free download of Change Management Tools Powerpoint Slide Template. These slides are easily customizable, helping you implement change management for maximum success.
Download the Bonus
Plus: Get Access to my Free 7 part Email Course on “Introduction to Leading Change.”

12. Risk assessment

To manage risk, you must identify and assess risk. A risk assessment is a tool that helps you assess the risks present and compare it to the benefits of change. It helps to engage stakeholders, management and staff by creating an urgent case for change.

The goal of risk management is to clarify acceptable risks. This is done by considering business objectives and change stakeholders. To do this you must:

  • Identify, assess and prioritise risks within change activities,
  • Determine proactive, cost-effective, risk-reduction actions and incorporate these into change planning,
  • Implement risk responses based on timely identification of risk occurrences (triggers),
  • Monitor and report progress in reducing risk within the change plan,
  • Define risk management responsibilities and accountabilities.


  • Identify and describe risk.

Consider the risks that may be present with stakeholders and project team members. Methods you can use to do this may include interviews, risk assessments worksheets, and risk assessment workshops. The latter provides the most comprehensive approach, with risks and impacts brainstormed in a group setting.

When identifying and describing risks, consider these questions:

  • What is the risk?
  • Who will it affect?
  • How can it be prevented?
  • What needs to happen if the risk occurs?
  • Who is the logical owner of the risk?

Risks may be rare (very unlikely to happen), unlikely, or almost certain.

  • Identify triggers

Document risks as they occur.

  • Assess the impact of the risk

Assess the impact of unidentified/unintended risks. Such risks may range from insignificant to catastrophic. Insignificant may result in minor service disruptions. Catastrophic may result in a loss of service and exodus of customers.

  • Decide on the acceptability of risk

Develop a ‘Risk exposure threshold’, with the acceptability of each risk measured. Here’s an example of how this might look:

Risk exposure threshold

In this example, the boundary between what is considered to be acceptable risks and unacceptable risks to the business is the line between the orange and the red cells.

  • Develop risk mitigation

You may develop risk mitigation strategies that include:

  • Prevention, when the business is unwilling to deal with the consequences of the risk. Mitigation may include not continuing with the activity, segregation of duties, and password control.
  • Reconciliation, when the risk is deemed acceptable and dealt with via standard processes.
  • Correction, when the risk cannot be prevented but the business needs to protect itself from the consequences of the risk. Typical examples include contracts, insurance, and contingency planning.

[back to contents]

– Managing meetings and collecting feedback-

There are many types of meetings. These include focus groups, workshops, and face-to-face meetings.

Meetings enable real-time collaboration. They help to build relationships and are good for creating collective goals and visions. On the other hand, they require people to be in the same geographic location. They can also be time-consuming and expensive and may be difficult to coordinate.

Types of meetings that you might consider include facilitation meetings, brown bag lunches, Q&A sessions, and process, showcase and technical walk-throughs.

13. Facilitation

You will never know more about another person’s job than they do. Unless you do the same job. Facilitation enables experts to share their knowledge and concerns. They help you to create solutions to problems in a ‘safe space’. It is neither training nor education. Rather, it guides participants to the desired outcome. Such outcomes may be conflict resolution, decision-making, or exploration of alternatives.


  1. Introduce the ground rules for the day. One person talking at a time. Constructive language. How to handle side issues (perhaps use a ‘car park’ board).
  2. Introduce processes, both planned and in real-time as the meeting unfolds. Bring your own intellectual capital or intellectual property to help facilitate the discussion.
  3. Guide the conversation.
  4. Ask probing questions to clarify statements.
  5. Record insights.
  6. Summarise and set next actions.

[back to contents]

14. Brown Bag Lunches



Brown bag lunches are informal training or information sessions. They are typically held over lunch, with around 20 to 30 minutes of content. You can include them in the Communication and Engagement plan. You may also use them reactively as the need arises.

Brown bag lunches are easy to plan. They encourage shared learning in a relaxed forum and can be used to fills gaps of formal training. However, they are only suitable for basic concepts and overviews. The short timeframe and varying competencies stop them from being useful for more complex needs.


  • Send out an invite with agenda.
  • Write up agenda on a whiteboard.
  • Introduce the topic: what, why, how, etc.
  • Invite questions and comments.
  • Record issues raised and distribute a follow-up note with any actions and materials for support.
  • Don’t forget to provide lunch or a snack!

[back to contents]

15. Q & A Sessions

These face-to-face sessions are like Brown Bag Lunches, in that they are relatively informal and encourage participants to ask questions. But, they do not have a presentation component. They can be made to a broad range of invitees, or target a specific group.

Q&A sessions give people the opportunity to ask questions in an informal environment. They can also learn from the questions asked by others. However, they can be difficult to organise, and are prone to go off track as people work toward their own agendas.

Similar forums include focus groups, workshops, and face-to-face meetings. These forums involve getting a group of stakeholders together to discuss the project (or a part of the project) in detail and agree on a course of action. This facilitates real-time collaboration. It aids relationship building, though people must be in the same geographic location. They can be expensive to coordinate and run, and are also time-consuming.

[back to contents]

16. Process, showcase, and technical walk-throughs

Process walk through

A member of the technical team leads stakeholders through new processes, applications, and so on. Such a presentation may range from providing a process map to a hands-on session using a training database.

You can usually set these up quickly. They are good to fill gaps in training and answer ‘what’s in it for me?’ They can be included in the Communication and Engagement plan or used reactively in the support process. However, if access to systems is needed, this may be difficult to arrange, creating a slow process of communication.

[back to contents]

17. Conflict resolution

Alignment on goals and how to get there is vitally important in business. You must manage resources and people to ensure the goal is met in the quickest way possible. When you look at what’s happening under the surface of organisational change, you’ll notice an ‘us and them’ mentality. To resolve this requires a good understanding of conflict management techniques.

It’s typical to think conflict is about personalities and that a particularly difficult person ‘is’ a certain way. Really, it’s about the process – specifically, the misalignment over goals and/or the approach to reach them.

This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be conflict. Some level of debate is normal and healthy. This model helps you:

  • Understand to leave emotion out of management
  • Reground people quickly when conversations spin out of control
  • Keep it focused on the process of decision-making and not on the people


You don’t need elaborate matrices and long, drawn-out processes. Simply follow this step-by-step process:

  1. In conversation, determine if the conflict is over goals or alternatives.
  2. If the disagreement is over alternatives, then you have, by default, agreement on the goals.
    • Bring them back to what they agree on. For example, we agree on the goal of expansion in Europe, but we disagree on whether to build our presence from scratch or buy an existing business.
    • Explore the assumptions underlying each alternative. Look for new win-win ways to break the deadlock.
  3. If the conflict is about the objectives or the destination, then a different process must be followed. In our Europe expansion example, one person may believe the best the way to improve profits is to cut some underperforming product lines. Another may be opposed to any European expansion.
    • Ask who owns this decision. Often, it’s best to have buy-in and commitment to the objectives. Sometimes the corporate interests and individual interests don’t align. In this case, we must fall into line. Find who owns the decision and work with them to create a new process to generate commitment. Alternatively, have them tell the parties that the objective as stated is staying.

In conclusion

The most effective and successful change managers utilise a wide variety of change management tools and techniques. They employ them appropriately for each unique change initiative. Once proficient in their use, a change manager will improvise tools and techniques throughout the lifecycle of a project.

These 17 change management tools provide essential foundations for effective change management. Build on these foundations by using these tools in the change projects you initiate and manage.

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus:
Free download of Change Management Tools Powerpoint Slide Template. These slides are easily customizable, helping you implement change management for maximum success.
Download the Bonus
Plus: Get Access to my Free 7 part Email Course on “Introduction to Leading Change.”
6 comments… add one

Leave a Comment