Organizational Change Types, Definition and Examples

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The ability to navigate and drive organizational change is a critical skill in business. changing organizational culture is a pivotal aspect that intertwines seamlessly with organizational strategy. Navigating this transformative journey requires a comprehensive understanding, and that’s where organizational development comes into play with a strategic planning process which serves as the roadmap, ensuring a deliberate and purposeful approach. This process, in essence, facilitates planned change organization development, fostering adaptability and resilience within the organizational culture.

Change in organizations is driven by various factors such as technological advancements, market dynamics, shifts in consumer behaviour, or the need for increased efficiency and innovation. Successful organizational change involves careful planning, effective communication, and engagement with stakeholders at all levels.

Digital Leadership recognizes this imperative and serves as a catalyst for positive change. We offer Digital Transformation Consulting and Digital Transformation Solutions to guide organizations through the complexities of change, offering expertise that goes beyond consultation to foster a tangible ability to navigate the intricate landscape of digital evolution, providing businesses with the tools and expertise needed to thrive in a business environment.

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This article delves into the intricate fabric of organizational change, exploring its types, defining its essence, and offering illustrative examples. As business entrepreneurs, understanding the nuances of organizational change is not just a strategic advantage but a prerequisite for sustained success.

What is Organizational Change Meaning

Organizational change encompasses the deliberate modifications made by a company or business to a substantial aspect of its structure, encompassing elements like culture, foundational technologies, infrastructure, or internal processes. These changes are significant and have a profound impact on the entire organization. They may involve substantial adjustments to personnel, corporate objectives, service portfolios, and operational procedures, representing a diverse range of transformations within the organizational framework. In essence, organizational change is a comprehensive and multifaceted category that addresses substantial shifts in various facets of a company’s functioning.

Organizational Change is a transformative force that shapes the very foundations of a business. The meaning of organizational change goes beyond surface-level adjustments; it encapsulates the essence of evolution, adaptation, and the pursuit of excellence in the face of challenges.

The Organizational Culture Canvas plays a pivotal role in organizational change, serving as a strategic guide for assessing and transforming the existing cultural landscape. This tool enables a comprehensive diagnosis of the current organizational culture, identifying strengths and areas requiring transformation. By aligning cultural elements with the goals of the change initiative, the canvas ensures a cohesive approach to cultural shifts that supports broader organizational objectives.

Organizational Culture Canvas
The UNITE Culture Canvas
Designed by: Susanne M.Zaninelli & Stefan F.Dieffenbacher

For a deeper exploration of Organizational change, choosing the suitable organizational culture type and how they synergize to drive innovation and success, we invite you to explore our book, “How to Create Innovation.”

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Why is Change Important in Organizational Structure

The importance of organizational change is evident in its role as an inevitable aspect of organizational culture, particularly within the organizational structure. Embracing change in this structural framework is not merely a choice but a strategic imperative. It holds the key to unlocking numerous benefits that contribute to the overall success and sustainability of an organization.

Organizational change is crucial for adaptability and innovation in today’s dynamic business landscape, particularly when it comes to altering the organizational structure. This strategic imperative unlocks various benefits, such as sustaining competitiveness by responding to market trends and customer demands. Additionally, it fosters a culture of innovation, enhances employee competence through up-skilling, and identifies growth opportunities for sustained expansion. Notably, organizational change contributes to a positive workplace environment, aligning employee roles with organizational goals, boosting morale, and enhancing overall productivity. In essence, the significance of organizational change extends beyond mere adaptation; it becomes a catalyst for innovation, growth, and organizational resilience.

The UNITE Business Model Canvas serves as a pivotal tool in the landscape of organizational change, offering a structured and visual framework that transcends traditional approaches. Comprising key components of a business model, it becomes an invaluable asset in the process of assessing, planning, and executing strategic transformations. This canvas not only encourages a holistic evaluation of the existing business model but also facilitates strategic alignment, ensuring that organizational change is seamlessly integrated with the overall business strategy. By visually mapping out elements such as value proposition, customer segments, and key resources, the canvas becomes a catalyst for effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders involved in the change process. Its dynamic nature allows organizations to enhance opportunity identification, fostering a proactive approach to change.

Business Model Canvas Template
The UNITE Business Model Canvas
Designed by: Digital Leadership AG – Building on the work of Alexander Osterwalder

Types of Organizational Change

Organizational change manifests in various forms, each with its unique characteristics and implications. Understanding these types is key to navigating the complex landscape of change management.

1- Remedial Change

Remedial change is responsive in nature, and triggered by the identification of a problem that demands a solution. Intended to tackle specific issues, these changes necessitate prompt action. While reactive changes may not be the preferred course, they are an unavoidable necessity. It involves corrective actions to address existing issues. Whether it’s resolving inefficiencies or mitigating risks, remedial change is about fine-tuning the organizational machinery for optimal performance.

  • Example: Implementing new quality control measures to address inefficiencies in the production process.

2- Unplanned Change

Not all changes are anticipated, and unplanned change addresses the need for agility in response to unforeseen circumstances. Unplanned change is characterized by the need for action in response to unforeseen events. While it cannot be anticipated, adept change management can effectively address and navigate unplanned changes.

  • Example: swiftly adapting business operations due to sudden shifts in market dynamics or regulatory changes.

3- Structural Change in Organization

Structural change encompasses significant alterations in the management hierarchy, team structure, departmental responsibilities, chain of command, job framework, and administrative procedures. It is a deliberate alteration in the organizational framework. It could involve reorganizing departments, hierarchies, or communication channels. Delving into this type, we uncover the intricacies of restructuring for enhanced efficiency.

  • Example: Restructuring departments and teams to enhance collaboration and streamline communication.

4- Operational Change

An operational change refers to a modification in your company’s structure, encompassing reorganization, staff reductions, or team adjustments prompted by shifts in strategy or mission statements. It focuses on optimizing day-to-day processes from workflow enhancements to the adoption of new technologies.

  • Example: Implementing a new project management system to improve workflow efficiency.

5- People-Centric Organizational Change

Implementing a people-centric change necessitates transparency, communication, competent leadership, and a compassionate approach. It’s worth noting that several change management models, including the Kübler-Ross Change Curve and Satir Change Model, are tailored to address emotional responses to change. Organizations are made up of people, and people-centric change acknowledges the human element.

  • Example: Introducing a mentorship program during organizational change to support employees in adapting to new processes.

6- Strategic Change

Strategic change involves the systematic transformation of an organization’s vision, objectives, structure, culture, or capabilities to align with evolving conditions and seize emerging opportunities. It’s crucial to note that organizational changes vary in nature and impact, signifying that each change is distinct in its own right. It involves redefining the overarching goals and direction of an organization. Understanding the strategic dimension of change is paramount for long-term sustainability.

  • Example: Shifting from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach to enhance long-term competitiveness.

7- Technological Change

Technological change, often abbreviated as TC, encompasses the comprehensive progression of invention, innovation, and the dissemination of technology or processes throughout a given system or environment. It is a driving force, from adopting cutting-edge tools to leveraging transformative technologies.

  • Example: Adopting cloud-based solutions to streamline operations and enhance data accessibility.

Organizational change needs a structured, but customized approach. The UNITE Horizons of Growth framework tells you exactly when and how to improve, transform or innovate your business.

Three Horizons of Growth
The UNITE Horizons of Growth
Designed By: Digital Leadership AG

Examples of Organizational Change

Theoretical understanding comes to life through real-world examples. Organizational Change Examples provide tangible instances of organizational change, offering insights into both successful transformations and those that faced challenges.


Instances of organizational change can manifest in various forms, reflecting the dynamic nature of adapting to evolving environments. Here are illustrative examples of organizational change:

  1. Restructuring: An organization may undergo structural changes, such as the realignment of departments, the creation of new divisions, or changes in reporting hierarchies to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.
  2. Technology Adoption Organizational Change Example: Introducing new technologies or upgrading existing systems is a common organizational change. This could involve implementing advanced software, automation, or adopting digital tools to streamline operations.
  3. Mergers and Acquisitions: The integration of two companies through mergers or acquisitions is a significant organizational change. It involves aligning cultures, processes, and systems to create a cohesive and synergistic entity.
  4. Cultural Transformation example of organizational change: Organizations may initiate a shift in culture to foster innovation, collaboration, or adaptability. This involves changing shared values, beliefs, and behaviours across the workforce.
  5. Process Improvement: Continuous improvement initiatives focus on optimizing operational processes. This could include adopting lean methodologies, Six Sigma practices, or other frameworks to enhance efficiency and reduce waste.
  6. Leadership Changes: Changes in leadership, whether through promotions, retirements, or external hires, can lead to shifts in organizational priorities, strategies, and the overall direction.
  7. Workplace Flexibility Initiatives: The adoption of flexible work arrangements, remote work policies, or changes in work hours reflects an organizational response to the evolving expectations and preferences of employees.
  8. Diversity and Inclusion Programs: Organizations may implement programs to promote diversity and inclusion, reflecting a commitment to fostering a more equitable and representative workplace.
  9. Introduction of New Products or Services: Launching new products or services often requires adjustments in organizational processes, structures, and marketing strategies to accommodate the changes in the business portfolio.
  10. Strategic Shifts: Organizations may undergo strategic changes in response to shifts in the market, customer preferences, or industry trends. This could involve entering new markets, exiting certain sectors, or redefining the overall business strategy.

Process of Organizational Change Strategy: Steps for Implementing and Leading Organizational Change

Implementing organizational change demands a methodical and strategic approach. The following steps provide a roadmap for organizations seeking to lead change effectively:

1. Clear Vision and Goals

A clear vision and well-defined goals set the foundation for successful organizational change. It provides direction and purpose, aligning the efforts of the entire organization.

2. Creating a Change Team and Employee Notification

Creating a dedicated change team ensures that the responsibilities and tasks related to the change are efficiently managed. Proper communication with employees is vital to ensure transparency and garner support.

In the organizational change strategy, the application of the UNITE Cultural Layers Model comes to the forefront during the crucial step of creating a change team and notifying employees. Recognizing the significance of organizational culture, this model guides the formation of a change team that respects and reflects the diverse cultural elements within the organization. By understanding symbols, rituals, stories, heroes, values, and beliefs, the team can navigate the intricate cultural landscape during the change process.

Cultural Layers Model
The UNITE Cultural Layers Model – connecting culture and business outcomes
Designed by: Susanne Zaninelli & Stefan F.Dieffenbacher

3. Addressing People Issues

Addressing the concerns and challenges faced by employees during change is crucial. It involves fostering open communication, providing support, and addressing resistance.

4. Prioritization

Prioritization involves identifying the most critical aspects of the change process and focusing resources and efforts accordingly. It ensures a systematic and efficient implementation.

5. Secure Buy-In

Securing buy-in from key stakeholders and employees is essential for the success of organizational change. It involves building consensus, addressing concerns, and creating a sense of ownership.

6. Change Implementation Plan with Timeline Creation

Developing a comprehensive implementation plan, complete with timelines, ensures that the change process stays on track. It provides a roadmap for all stakeholders involved.

7. Focus on Training & Support

Training employees on new processes or systems is crucial for a smooth transition. Providing ongoing support helps mitigate challenges and ensures a successful change adoption.

Embarking on organizational change with a strategic mindset, guided by these steps, enhances the likelihood of successful implementation and sustainable transformation within the organization.

Levels of Organizational Change

Individual Level

At the individual level, employees undergo personal changes in roles, responsibilities, or skill sets. Managing individual-level change is critical for overall organizational success.

Project Level

Project-level change involves adjustments to specific initiatives, workflows, or departmental structures. It requires effective project management and collaboration.

Enterprise Level

Enterprise-level change encompasses overarching shifts that impact the entire organization. It often involves strategic realignment, cultural transformations, or large-scale technological implementations.

Benefits of Organizational Change

Organizational change, when executed strategically, can yield a multitude of benefits that contribute to the long-term success and sustainability of a business. Here are several key advantages:

1- Impact on Organizational Efficiency and Adaptability

Organizational change enhances efficiency by streamlining processes and improves adaptability to market changes.

2- Positive Effects on Productivity and Innovation

Change fosters an Innovation Culture, leading to increased productivity and competitiveness.

3- Impact on Market Presence and Competitiveness

Strategic organizational change positively influences market presence and enhances competitiveness.

4- Effects on Employee Morale and Organizational Vision

Well-executed change positively influences employee morale and reinforces the organizational vision.

5- Enhancement of Overall Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness

Efficient processes resulting from change contribute to overall cost-effectiveness.

6- Influence on Work-Life Balance and Employee Satisfaction

Organizational change can positively impact work-life balance and contribute to employee satisfaction.

7- Adoption of Eco-friendly Practices

Incorporating sustainable practices during change aligns the organization with eco-friendly initiatives.

Organizational Change Management

Organizational change management (OCM) entails steering the process of organizational change to achieve a successful outcome, generally encompassing three key stages: preparation, implementation, and follow-through. It is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and the entire organization from the current state to a desired future state. It is a critical process that enables organizations to adapt to external disruptions, internal innovations, or shifts in strategic direction. Effectively managing change is essential for ensuring that employees embrace new ways of working, and the organization achieves its objectives seamlessly.

Definition of Organizational Change Management

Organizational Change Management can be defined as the systematic process of planning, implementing, and reinforcing strategies to manage the people side of change. It involves preparing and supporting employees to navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with organizational transitions.

Importance of Change Management

Change, whether big or small, can be unsettling for employees. Change Management becomes crucial as it helps mitigate resistance, reduce disruptions, and increase the likelihood of successful implementation. It acknowledges that change is not just a process or a project but a journey that involves people at its core.

The Role of Leadership in Change Management

Leadership plays a pivotal role in the success of Organizational Change Management. Leaders need to articulate a clear vision, communicate effectively, and demonstrate commitment to the change. Their ability to inspire and guide teams through transitions is fundamental to the change management process.

Strategies for Effective Organizational Change Management

1. Clear Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of effective change management. Leaders must communicate the reasons for change, the expected outcomes, and the role of each individual in the process. Transparent and frequent communication builds trust and helps manage uncertainty.

2. Inclusive Decision-Making

Involving employees in the decision-making process fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the change. Seeking input from various levels of the organization ensures that diverse perspectives are considered, leading to more robust change strategies.

3. Comprehensive Training and Support

Providing adequate training equips employees with the skills and knowledge needed to adapt to new processes or systems. Ongoing support, whether through mentorship programs or resources, ensures that employees feel supported throughout the change journey.

4. Recognition and Rewards

Acknowledging and rewarding individuals or teams for their contributions to the change process reinforces positive behaviours. Recognizing efforts boosts morale and motivates employees to actively engage in the transformation.

5. Flexibility and Adaptability

Change is dynamic, and unforeseen challenges may arise. A flexible approach allows organizations to adapt their strategies based on feedback and evolving circumstances. Embracing adaptability is key to overcoming obstacles during the change journey.

The Connection Between Organizational Change and Digital Transformation

In modern business, the relationship between Organizational Change and Digital Transformation is inseparable. Organizations seeking to thrive and remain competitive recognize the need to not only adapt to technological advancements but also undergo comprehensive cultural and structural shifts. To navigate this intricate landscape successfully, organizations need not only embrace change but also craft a robust Digital Transformation strategy.

The intricate connection between Organizational Change and Digital Transformation.

1. Shared Objectives

Both Organizational Change and Digital Transformation share the common goal of improving organizational effectiveness and responsiveness. While Digital Transformation introduces new technologies, Organizational Change ensures that the workforce is ready and willing to embrace these changes.

2. Cultural Alignment

Successful Digital Transformation requires a cultural shift towards innovation, agility, and collaboration. Organizational Change management plays a pivotal role in aligning the workforce with the new digital culture, breaking down resistance, and fostering a spirit of openness to change.

3. Skill Development

Digital Transformation often introduces new tools and technologies. Organizational Change involves upskilling or reskilling the workforce to ensure they have the necessary competencies to leverage and adapt to digital tools seamlessly.

4. Change Leadership

Both initiatives require effective leadership to guide the organization through the transformation journey. Leaders need to communicate a compelling vision, inspire employees, and provide the necessary support and resources for successful implementation.

5. Continuous Evolution

Digital Transformation is an ongoing process as technology and market conditions evolve. Organizational Change provides the framework for continuous improvement, ensuring that the organization remains agile and adaptable in the face of future disruptions.

Challenges and Considerations

1. Resistance to Change

Employees may resist both Digital Transformation and Organizational Change due to fear of the unknown or concerns about job security. Change management strategies need to address these concerns and communicate the benefits of digital transformations.

2. Integration of Technologies

The integration of new technologies must be seamlessly woven into the fabric of the organization. This involves not only implementing the technology but also ensuring that processes and people align with the new digital landscape.

3. Communication

Effective communication is critical throughout both Digital Transformation and Organizational Change. Clear, transparent communication helps manage expectations, address concerns, and create a shared understanding of the transformations.

Frequently Asked Questions

In business, opportunities arise from four common types of changes and trends. Technological advancements, with the integration of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things, offer businesses the chance to innovate processes and deliver unparalleled value. Understanding shifts in consumer behaviour, such as the surge in e-commerce, sustainability focus, and the remote work lifestyle, allows businesses to align offerings with evolving preferences. Proactively adapting to regulatory and compliance shifts, including data privacy and environmental regulations, positions businesses for ethical practices and compliance solutions.

Navigating global economic trends, such as the rise of emerging markets, increased digital transformation investments, and the acceptance of remote work, empowers businesses to explore new markets and partnerships. By staying attuned to these changes, businesses can seize opportunities, foster innovation, and remain agile in the business environment.

2. Change control should be used to oversee and manage changes over which aspect of an organization?

Change control is specifically employed to oversee and manage changes in the organizational processes and systems of an organization. It plays a crucial role in regulating alterations in workflows, technologies, and established procedures. By providing systematic oversight, change control ensures that changes align with the business goals, minimizing disruptions and optimizing the success of transformative initiatives. In essence, it acts as a compass, guiding and monitoring modifications to enhance efficiency and effectiveness within the organization.

3. Why is Organizational Change Management important?

Organizational Change Management is crucial because it helps organizations navigate transitions effectively, mitigates resistance, and ensures that employees are aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives.

4. How can leaders effectively lead organizational change?

Effective leadership during organizational change involves clearly communicating the vision, involving employees in decision-making, providing support, and demonstrating a commitment to the change.

5. What are the common challenges in Organizational Change Management?

Common challenges include resistance to change, lack of communication, inadequate training, and a failure to address the human side of change. Overcoming these challenges requires a well-structured change management plan.


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