Planned Change Theories and Process in Organizational Development

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Organizational Development

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Planned change in organizational development is preparing the entire organization for new goals or a new digital business strategy. The direction can be culture, metrics, internal structures, processes, or other relevant areas.

Change does not appear randomly but needs a structured approach. With John Kotter’s proven 8 Steps of Change model, you have all the tools needed to structure and implement your change plan from the bottom up: You create the right climate and empower your organization to create sustainable change that matters!

Thus, it is important to note that planning for change and planning for innovation are not the same things. Innovation is a transformative process that requires significant change.

This post will explore planned change in organizational development and organizational development and change.

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What is Planned Change Meaning in Organizational Development

Planned change refers to a purposeful and intentional effort to bring about modifications, improvements, or transformations within an organization. Unlike changes that occur organically or reactively, planned change involves a systematic and structured approach to address specific issues or achieve particular objectives. This type of change is typically initiated with a clear understanding of the need for change and a well-thought-out strategy for implementing it.

In organizational development (OD), planned change refers to a purposeful and intentional effort to bring about modifications, improvements, or transformations within an organization. It is a systematic and structured approach to managing and implementing changes in various aspects of an organization, such as its structure, processes, culture, or technology. Planned change is a key concept within the field of organizational development, which is focused on enhancing organizational effectiveness and facilitating long-term success.

Theories of Planned Change in Organizational Development

There are three significant organization development and change cummings theories used to help the organizational members manage the change.

1) Lewin’s Theory of Planned Change Model in Organization Development

Lewin’s model is the basis for comprehending organizational change. It was first developed by Kurt Lewin and had three steps in it.

So, Lewin’s change model suggests increasing the factors that trigger a change in the organization while reducing the forces that preserve the existing status of the organization. This reduces the resistance to change.

The three steps involved in this model include:

  • Unfreezing: As the name suggests, this step involves reducing the factors which maintain the existing organizational behaviour at the current level. It is named unfreezing because the existing state is unfrozen here. Unfreezing is sometimes accomplished by the causes of psychological disconfirmation.
  • Moving: In this step, there is a displacement of existing organizational culture, innovation strategy, and individual or department to a different level. It also involves interfering in the present system to develop new attitudes and relevant organizational change.
  • Refreezing: In this step, stabilization of the organizational equilibrium occurs. Supporting mechanisms and procedures are used to achieve refreezing, which forces the new organizational state.

These are the forces that gradually become regular, and the cycle continues.

2) Action Research Organization development and change model

Planned change in organizational development is a cycle, and the action research model focuses on the planned change as a cycle. The core research about the organization gives information to guide further action. The results are assessed on the amount of information provided.

Action research has the objective of assisting companies with implementing their planned change. It also helps develop general knowledge gathered from implementing the planned change so that it can be applied to other companies.

3) Contemporary approaches to change

The contemporary approaches to change are culled from an action research model. However, the difference here is that the member involvement is relatively high in the change process. This includes educating the members of the organization about their company and how they should change it to apply the planned change.

Process of Planned Change 8 Steps in Organizational Development

Once business leaders commit to planned change in organizational development, they need to create a logical step-by-step approach to accomplish the objectives. Planned change requires managers to follow an eight-step process for successful implementation, which is discussed below:

1) Identify the need for change

Identifying or recognizing the need for change happens at the top management level or in peripheral parts of the organization. The change may be necessitated due to internal or external forces, and the senior management team determines it.

2) Develop goals for the change

it is important to note that you need to determine why the change is necessary before any action is taken. The goals that change need to be defined before starting the planned change in organizational development. Both business market opportunities and problems must be evaluated. Then it is important to define the needed changes in terms of organizational culture, structure, technology, products, and services.

3) Appoint a change agent

As the name implies, the change agent is the person who takes leadership responsibility to oversee and implement the planned change in organizational development. He may be selected from the management team or externally. The change agent must realize the need for organizational development & change, be it a product, service culture, or other areas. He should be open to new ideas, Creativity and innovation, and supportive of implementing those ideas into actual practice.

4) Analysis of the organization’s current state

in this step, the change agent gathers data to analyze the organization’s current state. This data gathering has only one sole intention: to prepare existing employees for organisational change and development. Preparing employees for this planned change requires direct and forceful feedback about the negatives of the organization’s current state compared to the desired future state. It also involves sensitizing employees and stakeholders about the need for the planned change. This will motivate them to overlook the organization’s current deploring state and adopt the new planned change.

5) Select the implementation method

This step requires deciding on the best way to bring about organization development and change cummings. Different possible methods of implementation will be presented. Once all the queries are solved, the chosen plan is selected for implementation. Managers and business leaders must ensure that they are open and self-motivated towards change. They understudy organizations that have implemented new ideas, talk to people with different views and ideas, and use external performance standards such as competitors’ progress.

6) Developing a plan

As the name implies, thorough planning takes place in this step. This phase also determines the when, where, and how of the plan, otherwise known as the specifics of the plan. The plan acts like a road map or GPS map, providing direction for the organization. It considers specific events and activities that must be integrated to produce the planned change. It also delegates responsibility for each of the goals and objectives.

7) Implementation of the selected plan

There could be multiple plays and innovation strategies in the entire process, some of which may be rejected or selected. After much deliberation and the right questions answered, the selected plan is implemented. Day-to-day problems faced by employees during the implementation of change can dilute the excitement of the change. It is the responsibility of business leaders and managers to maintain the excitement for the change by providing the required resources for the employees. They can also encourage the employees to develop new skills and reiterate the change by having a strong support system for those employees who drive the change in their teams.

8) Follow-up and evaluation

During this step, managers and business leaders must compare the results to the established goals in step 4. Therefore, it is important to sincerely determine whether the goals were met. If necessary, a complete follow-up should be done to determine the completion since a positive result is expected by implementing a planned change in organizational development.

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Types of Planned Change

Organizations may undertake one or a combination of these planned changes based on their specific needs, goals, and the external environment. The successful implementation of planned change often requires careful planning, effective communication, and the involvement of key stakeholders.

There are several types of planned change, each tailored to address specific aspects of an organization’s structure, processes, or culture. Here are some common types of planned change:

1) Structural Change

  • Definition: Involves altering the organizational structure, roles, and reporting relationships.
  • Example: Implementing a new hierarchy, reorganizing departments, or changing reporting lines.

2) Strategic Change

  1. Definition: Aim at aligning the organization with its strategic goals and responding to external environmental changes.
  2. Example: Shifting the organization’s focus, entering new markets, or diversifying product offerings.

3) Process-Oriented Change

  • Definition: Concentrates on improving specific processes within the organization to enhance efficiency.
  • Example: Implementing lean methodologies, Six Sigma, or process reengineering.

4) People-Oriented Change

  • Definition: Centers on the human aspects of change, addressing attitudes, skills, and behaviors of individuals within the organization.
  • Example: Leadership development programs, training initiatives, or performance management system changes.

5) Technological Change

  • Definition: Focuses on introducing or upgrading technology to improve efficiency or effectiveness.
  • Example: Implementing new software systems, upgrading hardware, or adopting automation processes.

6) Procedural Change

  • Definition: Involves altering how tasks and processes are carried out within the organization.
  • Example: Changing project management methodologies, revising workflow procedures, or implementing new standard operating procedures.

7) Cultural Change

  • Definition: Focuses on modifying the shared values, beliefs, and behaviours of employees to foster a desired organizational culture.
  • Example: Promoting collaboration, innovation, or diversity and inclusion.

8) Policy Change

  • Definition: Involves revising organizational policies and guidelines to better align with strategic objectives or external changes.
  • Example: Updating HR policies, revising ethical guidelines, or implementing new safety protocols.

9) Merger or Acquisition Change

  • Definition: Occurs when organizations combine or when one acquires another, leading to changes in structure, culture, and processes.
  • Example: Merging two departments, integrating different corporate cultures, or harmonizing policies after an acquisition.

10) Leadership Change

  • Definition: Involves changes in leadership roles, either through promotions, retirements, or organizational restructuring.
  • Example: Appointing a new CEO, restructuring the executive team, or changing leadership responsibilities.

11) Product or Service Innovation

  • Definition: Focuses on introducing new products or services or significantly updating existing ones.
  • Example: Launching a new product line, adopting new technologies, or diversifying service offerings.

12) Training and Development Change

  • Definition: Aim at enhancing the skills, knowledge, and capabilities of employees.
  • Example: Implementing a new training program, offering professional development opportunities, or introducing mentorship initiatives.

Example of Planned Change in Organizational Development:

The planned change involves a comprehensive digital transformation strategy to address shifts in the retail industry. It demonstrates key elements of planned change, including strategic alignment, leadership involvement, employee engagement, and a focus on continuous improvement.

Real-Life Example: Digital Transformation in a Retail Company

1. Identifying the Need for Change:

  • The retail company recognizes the increasing demand for online shopping and the changing preferences of its customer base. The existing brick-and-mortar model is becoming less effective in meeting customer expectations.

2. Setting Objectives:

  • The leadership team sets objectives for a digital transformation, aiming to establish a robust online presence, enhance the e-commerce platform, and integrate digital technologies to improve the overall customer experience.

3. Strategic Alignment:

  • The planned change aligns with the organization’s strategic goals of adapting to changing consumer behaviour, expanding market reach, and remaining competitive in the digital age.

4. Leadership Involvement:

  • The CEO and top executives take a leading role in championing the digital transformation. They communicate the urgency of the change, articulate the vision for the company’s digital future, and allocate resources to support the initiative.

5. Employee Involvement:

  • Cross-functional teams are formed, including IT, marketing, sales, and customer service representatives. These teams collaborate to ensure that the digital transformation meets the needs of various departments and addresses potential challenges.

6. Communication:

  • Clear communication is maintained throughout the change process. Town hall meetings, newsletters, and regular updates are used to keep employees informed about the digital transformation journey, its milestones, and the expected impact on their roles.

7. Training and Development:

  • Training programs are implemented to upskill employees in digital tools, e-commerce practices, and customer engagement strategies. Workshops and online courses are offered to ensure that the workforce is prepared for the shift to digital operations.

8. Pilot Implementation:

  • A phased approach is taken, with a pilot implementation of the e-commerce platform in a specific region. This allows the company to test the functionality, gather customer feedback, and identify any technical or logistical issues before a full-scale rollout.

9. Adaptability:

  • The organization remains adaptable, continuously monitoring market trends, customer feedback, and technological advancements. Agile methodologies are adopted to respond quickly to changes, ensuring that the digital transformation strategy remains relevant.

10. Continuous Improvement:

  • Post-implementation, regular evaluations are conducted to measure the success of the digital transformation. Feedback from customers and employees is used to refine the online platform, optimize user experience, and introduce new digital features.

11. Positive Organizational Development:

  • Successful digital transformation leads to positive organizational development. The company experiences increased online sales, improved customer satisfaction, and a stronger competitive position in the market. Employees adapt to the digital environment, contributing to a more innovative and forward-thinking organizational culture.

Planned and Unplanned Change: What is The Difference Between Them

Planned change involves intentional and systematic efforts by organizations to make purposeful modifications, often following a structured process with proactive leadership and employee involvement. In contrast, unplanned change is spontaneous and reactive, responding swiftly to unforeseen events like economic downturns or natural disasters, often requiring immediate adaptation without a predefined strategy or extensive employee participation.

Planned change

Planned change refers to a purposeful and intentional effort by an organization to bring about modifications, improvements, or transformations. It is a proactive approach where leaders and stakeholders collaborate to achieve specific goals, address identified issues, or adapt to changing environments.


  1. Intentional: Planned change is initiated through a deliberate decision-making process, guided by the business goals and strategic vision.
  2. Systematic Approach: It follows a structured and organized process, typically guided by agile change management methodologies, involving diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
  3. Proactive Leadership: Leadership plays a proactive role in initiating and leading the change, setting a clear vision, strategy, and commitment to achieving desired outcomes.
  4. Employee Involvement: Employees are often involved in the change process, with their input sought through various mechanisms, fostering a sense of ownership.
  5. Communication: Clear and transparent communication is a key component, ensuring stakeholders are informed about the reasons for change, expected outcomes, and the process involved.
  6. Predictability: The organization can anticipate and plan for the change, leading to a more predictable timeline and expected outcomes.
  7. Examples: Implementing a new performance management system, restructuring departments, adopting a new technology platform, or launching a new product line.

Unplanned Change:

Unplanned change, on the other hand, occurs spontaneously and is often a reaction to unforeseen events, crises, or external factors. It is not initiated through a deliberate decision-making process but rather emerges in response to unexpected circumstances.


  1. Spontaneous: Unplanned change is often triggered by unexpected events or circumstances, catching the organization off guard.
  2. Less Predictable: It is less predictable and may lack a structured process, as the need for change arises abruptly.
  3. Reactive Leadership: Leadership reacts to the situation rather than proactively initiating the change, focusing on immediate decision-making and crisis management.
  4. Limited Employee Involvement: In some cases, there may be limited involvement of employees in the decision-making process, especially if the change is a rapid response to a crisis.
  5. Communication: Communication may be more immediate and crisis-driven, with a focus on managing the immediate challenges.
  6. Adaptability: The organization needs to adapt quickly to unexpected circumstances, and there might be less time for thorough planning.
  7. Examples: Responding to a sudden economic downturn, addressing the impact of a natural disaster on operations, or adapting to a significant shift in market conditions.

The main difference lies in the intentionality and process of the change. Planned change is purposeful, systematic, and initiated with specific goals in mind, while unplanned change is reactive, often arising from unforeseen circumstances, and requires quick adaptation. Both types of changes present unique challenges and opportunities for organizations. Let’s explore the key differences between them:

AspectPlanned ChangeUnplanned Change
InitiationDeliberate and purposeful, initiated by the organizationSpontaneous and reactive, often a response to events
ProcessSystematic and organized, follows a clear roadmapLess predictable, may lack a structured process
Leadership RoleProactive leadership involvementReactive leadership involvement
Employee InvolvementOften involves employees in the change processLimited employee involvement, especially in crises
CommunicationClear and transparent communicationCommunication may be more immediate and crisis-driven
PredictabilityMore predictable, with defined goals and timelinesLess predictable, immediate response to unexpected events
ExamplesImplementing new systems, restructuring, strategic initiativesResponding to economic downturns, natural disasters, sudden market shifts

Benefits of Organization Development and Change

Increasing productivity and efficiency comes with many benefits. One of the best ways to encourage positive results in these metrics is by using a well-thought-out organizational development structure. Organizational development and change are used to equip an organization with the right tools to adapt and respond positively to changes in the market.

The benefits of organization development and change cummings include the following:

1) Continuous development

Entities that participate in organizational change & development continually develop their digital business models. Organizational development creates a constant pattern of improvement in which strategies are developed, evaluated, implemented, and assessed for results and quality.

2) Increased vertical and horizontal communication

One considerable merit of organizational development is effective communication, interaction, and feedback in an organization. An effective communication system aligns employees with the company’s core values, objectives, and goals. An open communication system enables employees to understand the importance of change in an organization. Active organizational development increases communication in an organization, with feedback shared continuously to encourage improvement.

3) Employee growth

Organizational development and change emphasize effective communication, which is used to encourage employees to effect necessary changes. Many industry changes require employee development programs. As a result, many organizations are working toward improving the skills of their employees to equip them with more market-relevant skills.

4) Increased profit margins

Organizational development and change influence the bottom line in many ways. As a result of increased productivity and innovation, profits and efficiency increase. There is a reduction in overall cost because the organization can better manage employee turnover. Finally, after the alignment of an entity’s objectives, it can focus entirely on development and product service quality, leading to improvement in customer satisfaction.

Related: Introducing the UNITE eXtended Business Model Canvas


Organizational development and change are necessary for every organization, and its implementation has to be done methodically. The number of steps in planned change may vary, depending on the organization and the type of industry. Nonetheless, organizations must be prepared for the change.

Planned change in organizational development is essential, as it helps organizations transition into a more productive phase. Change helps to bring new ideas and ways of doing things, and it ensures that an entity is profitable and innovative.

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