Designing change strategy will transform your approach to change management: learn how design thinking can transform your approach to organizational change.

“It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.”

Designing change strategy is easier said than done. In a perfect world, changes are welcomed with excitement and eagerness to shift the status quo. However, change is often met with fear, anger, and resentment in the real world.

designing change strategy

While change is the only constant in life, statistics show that only 34% of change initiatives are clear successes.  

In order to initiate successful changes, organizations must invest more time and resources in creating a human-centered change strategy that allows for long-term alignment, implementation, and acceptance. 

In this article, we explore the best way to begin designing change strategy on the following topics:

  • Addressing Resistance to Change
  • Exploring the Fundamentals of Change
  • Designing Change Strategy with Design Thinking

Addressing Resistance to Change

Designing change strategy starts with acknowledging the main obstacle to change: resistance.

Resistance is a guarantee when it comes to introducing organizational change. While this is a well-known fact, the truth is that too few people plan for designing change strategies with this resistance in mind. Organizational change efforts are always going to face some form of resistance. Failure to consider this resistance may prove disastrous for any change initiatives going forward.

how to: designing change strategy

Bolster your change strategy by creating a plan to face resistance. Start by predicting the form resistance will take to tackle the most common forms of resistance. Experts reveal that people resist organizational change for the following reasons:

  • Team members are afraid to lose a valuable experience.

Your team members likely have grown accustomed to the status quo in your organization. While change is inevitable, team members will likely resist if they’ve grown attached to your current company culture. In order to overcome this level of resistance, it’s important to communicate the value that the impending changes will bring to your organization. 

  • Team members misunderstand the coming changes and their implications. 

Another cause of resistance is the fear of the unknown. Team members often attribute future changes to a negative impact on their work and their stability with the company. Leaders should address these fears by explaining the coming changes and detailing why they are necessary. This will help to alleviate the team members’ fears and help them welcome the coming changes. 

  • The team members believe that the coming changes aren’t necessary. 

For organizational change to take place, leaders must achieve buy-in from all participants. Too often, team members believe a change to be unnecessary or ineffective. Leaders should make an effort to communicate why the change is necessary and bring all team members on board.  

  • Team members have a low tolerance for change.

It isn’t uncommon for people to have a low tolerance for change. Most team members seek a sense of stability from the organization, and change threatens this stability. Team leaders must validate these facts and seek to reassure their team members that the changes that are coming will benefit everyone. 

Exploring The Fundamentals of Change

When designing change strategy, it’s important to understand what change means at its core. Learning about and adopting the fundamentals of change allow organizations to make change strategies a regular part of their company culture.

Change management experts share that organizations need three things for change to manifest:

  • Time 
  • An updated company culture
  • Positive motivation

Apply these fundamentals of change in the following ways:

  1. Take the Time to Make a Change

Lasting change needs time to manifest. In designing change strategy, it’s important to create sustained change initiatives that are built to last beyond the short term. Create a strategy that allows for temporary setbacks to ensure long-term success. With a reasonable timetable in mind, you’ll be best equipped to introduce new change initiatives and will give your team members the greatest ability to adopt these changes. 

2. Change Your Company Culture

In order for change to take hold in an organization, the work environment and company culture must change at its core. Designing a completely transformed work environment allows for the greatest behavioral change throughout every level of an organization. By redesigning your company culture and offering team members a new way to work, you’ll give team members the support and resources they need to face resistance to change in stride.

3. Focus on Positive Motivation

Designing change strategy around positive motivation changes everything. Successful change must be rooted in social change as it is the people who are responsible for supporting and sustaining new initiatives. Leaders should celebrate the upsides of change by highlighting the positive aspects of a better future and company culture. By getting all stakeholders excited about upcoming changes, you’ll be able to guarantee sustainable buy-in for the long term.  

designing change strategy together

Designing Change Strategy with Design Thinking

Design thinking is an innovative methodology that allows organizations to approach designing change strategies in an entirely new way. This process informs idea generation by encouraging stakeholders to implement change through collaboration. With the power of design thinking, organizations harness the perspective and experience of all team members to design, implement and maintain change. 



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Design thinking is based on divergent thinking: the process of inviting in a holistic and integrated manner. By merging design thinking and change management, organizations are able to increase innovation and collaboration as they introduce change initiatives. Through organizational change management, you’ll be able to start designing change strategy with design thinking and take a human-centric approach to change management. This helps team members align themselves with the goals and drives of an upcoming change as they become part of the transformative experience themselves.

By introducing change initiatives through design thinking, you’ll encourage team members to have empathy for the needed shifts as they adopt the changes even faster. 

As you start designing change strategy with a human-centered approach, consider the following elements of the design thinking process:

  1. Develop Empathy for the Change

Change can only take place if everyone is truly aligned with the shift. Starting with the first phases of design thinking, you’ll encourage your team to empathize with the need for change and the new initiatives that need to take place. This stage should include learning as much as possible about your organization’s current issues and problems.

2. Define the Problem the Change Addresses

With the information from the first phase, your team should now define the specific problem the upcoming change will address. This phase aims to determine a human-centered change initiative that will place all stakeholders at the center of the change. 

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3. Ideate Solutions for Change Strategy

Inviting all team members to participate in the ideation phase is crucial to creating buy-in for the forthcoming change. In this phase, team members are invited to collaboratively develop as many solutions as possible.

4. Prototype and Test Change Strategies 

Implementing change is one of the most challenging aspects of designing change strategy. The design thinking approach encourages a trial and error process to test change initiatives before fully implementing them. This allows leaders and teams to review and refine each initiative before selecting the most appropriate and effective change management strategy. 

Significant change takes place in this phase as team members work to identify the best possible solution. During this phase, you’ll continuously adapt your strategy to account for systematic and environmental changes as stakeholders all play an active role in bringing this change into reality. 

Designing change strategy takes an intentional approach to creative problem-solving. Are you and your team struggling with an organizational change? We help leaders and teams thrive through change!

Contact Voltage Control to learn more about how we can help you make lasting change. 

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