Some-one asked me the other day what I thought were the principles of good change management based on the work I had done. I’ve been really fortunate to work with a lot of good companies that do change well, and in reflecting on why those changes worked well these were the 7 principles that came to mind! I’d be most curious to hear yours… do share in the comments.

Principle 1: Co-create where you can

It’s hard to push back on the plan, if you’ve taken part in designing it. Bring in the end audience in the design of what the change is, and how you will roll out the change. Beyond reducing resistance to change, you may actually be designing a better change!

Principle 2: Take the blinkers off

Make sure you know what else is going on that could get in the way of your change OR could be an opportunity to leverage. Make the time to speak with other leaders and find out what’s happening in their parts of the business. Generate a change radar that tells you what is dropping at what point. Clear the runway for your change or juice it up.

Principle 3: Resource for success

Bringing in something new is not the time to be stingy and expect your managers and employees to wear multiple hats. Multi tasking during change means everything is compromised. Create backfill for your employees, resource with dedicated change practitioners.

Principle 4: Communicate what’s known, what’s not known and when you expect to know more

To wait for perfect information is to create a vacuum, and that vacuum will surely be filled with rumour and innuendo.

Principle 5: Engagement wins every time

Change resistance is inversely proportional to the amount of stakeholder engagement that occurs. You don’t need a strategy to deal with the blockers. You just need to engage with people who will be impacted by the change. Engage with empathy, curiosity and frequently.

Principle 6: Purpose matters.

Purpose is bigger than What’s In it for me? (WIIFM). Purpose is big, enduring, the reason why people get out of bed to go to work enthusiastically. If you can align your change with purpose, people get it. It makes sense. If it’s not aligned to the companies purpose, then forget about it.

Principle 7: Change leadership is critical.

The fish rots from the head. If your leadership team is not fully and visibly committed you can’t expect anyone else to make the changes. A fully committed leadership team will override poorly designed change every time.


Dr Jen Frahm – Author of Conversations of Change: A guide to implementing workplace change.


  1. gary gruber says:

    My # 8 might be:
    Understand the difference between change leadership and change management with the former preceding the latter. Initiating change has numerous differences from managing change once it’s underway. That doesn’t mean you can’t alter the course of change once begun. In fact, it’s often better to do that than just staying on the same course. Action steps can be altered to fit changing situations. Remember, change is constant.

    • mm Jen Frahm says:

      Gary – that’s a great principle to be included, thank you so much – really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  2. Scott Githens says:

    Spot on Jen. So simple, yet when you take the time to really understand each principle and its implications, both direct and indirect, they are very powerful

  3. Ivana Moretti says:

    Thank you Jen. Beautifully expressed. The co-creation part is where I see most falling down, yet it is the one approach that helps stoke the fire in the bellies of those you want to actually run with the change. It’s powerful common sense to give people ownership over the decision of what the change will actually look like, yet most skip this step due to time pressure, or a dated top-down decision making approach.

    • mm Jen Frahm says:

      Thanks Ivana – I love the idea of stoking fire in bellies, we can add more physicality to hearts and minds!

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