Skillfully managed, the change taking place during a project can lead to a transformation of team members’ and stakeholders’ activities and even remodeling of the organizational culture. However, managing profound change requires a structured method that aims at figuring out how to progress from the current state to the desired one. So what are change models in a project? Read on to find out!

Project management change models – table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. The ADKAR® model
  3. Kotler’s 8 steps of change management
  4. VThe Satir Change Model
  5. Bridges transformation model
  6. Change models – summary


Change management requires not only awareness of the sources and areas of the project that are subject to change. Equally crucial is the choice of a method. The right one should enable the Project Manager how to perceive the change and decide upon the most favorable measures. After all, with a carefully selected change management method, an unforeseen event may turn out to have beneficial consequences.

While there are many change models describing the activities necessary for successful project change management, we will discuss only the most popular ones today. Those few that come out as successful in many organizations and the latest edition of the PMBOK recommends.

ADKAR® model

The ADKAR® model consists of five steps that begin by recognizing the need for change in a project, to adapt to new conditions. The author of the model is Jeff Hiatt, who in his book “ADKAR: a Model for Change in Business, Government, and Our Community” puts forward the following sequence of change management:

  1. Awareness. In this step, the causes of change are identified.
  2. Desire. After recognizing the reasons for the change, there has to be a desire for the change and an acceptance of it.
  3. Knowledge. Those involved in the change must decide how to effectively exercise the transformation. It includes learning about new processes, and systems, as well as roles and responsibilities. Knowledge can pass on through training and education.
  4. Skills. At this stage, practical reinforces the knowledge, and, if necessary, hiring experts specializing in the area of interest in which the change is being made.
  5. Reinforcement. The final step is to This can include rewards, recognition, feedback, and measuring the effects of the applied response to the change.

Kotler’s 8-Step Change Model

John Kotler, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, wrote books on change management. He devised a method of 8 steps to transforming an organization taking a top-down approach, where the need for change and the plan for managing the transformation from the highest levels of the organization. Then, it channels down through the ranks of organizational management to the change recipients.

Kotler’s method comes in handy especially when an organization’s management is concerned about the poor performance of a project and decides to change its objective or other key parameters. It consists of eight steps:

  1. Generate a sudden need. Identify potential threats and opportunities that lead to the need for change.
  2. Form strong coalitions. Identify leaders of change. Their hierarchy or ranks doesn’t matter as much as their potential to influence others in a variety of roles, competencies, and varying degrees of importance in the organization.
  3. Come up with a vision for change. Present a clear, inspiring and compelling idea for the future that motivates and engages people in the change process.
  4. Communicate the vision. Find ways to streamline and deliver your concept, aiming at keeping people on board.
  5. Remove obstacles. Identify those capable of preventing you from fulfilling your vision for change and resolve them.
  6. Create quick wins. Implement quick, easy-to-achieve goals that convince people to change and give them a sense of success.
  7. Keep the momentum going. Stay active and dynamic to ensure the engagement of the team in the continuing change process.
  8. Regularly monitor the state of implemented changes and advance development.

The Satir Change Model

Virginia Satir devised a model of change based on communication theory. As a psychotherapist, she felt the need to help her patients cope with change and came up with a model that also found application in business, including project management.

Satir’s model describes four stages that the change process goes through:

  1. Introduction of novelty. Novelty can occur as a result of internal or external change.
  2. Chaos. Disruption of the existing order causes the project to go through a brief phase of chaos, during which the team and the organization adapt to the new situation.
  3. Transformation. In this phase, understanding of the new situation deepens. Actions are initiated to adapt to it.
  4. Integration. In this phase, the post-change situation reaches its first stability and the project implementation proceeds with a new rhythm under the changed conditions.

Bridges transformation model

William Bridges claimed that his model is not about change, as he perceives it as an external event that affects the existing state of affairs. Bridges’ model is about transformation or looking at people who perceive and act when confronting metamorphosis. Therefore, it focuses primarily on people’s adaptation to alterations. Bridges believed that the key to carrying out a beneficial transformation of the status quo is precisely to recognize how the project team, Project Manager and others involved in the tasks fine-tune their actions to the new conditions.

Bridges’ model consists of three stages:

  1. The end. In this phase, the people involved in the project feel anxious and worried about losing the known order of things.
  2. Transition period. In this stage, the process of adaptation to the new situation begins.
  3. New beginning. In this phase, the Project Manager, project team and stakeholders accept a new order of task execution that is stable and functional.
change models

Change models – summary

Change management requires a Project Manager not only to demonstrate technical competence but also to manage people and see how change affects their work.

Each of the four change management models:

  • ADKAR®,
  • Kotler’s 8-Step Change Model,
  • The Satir Change Model, and
  • Bridges transformation model,

focuses on a slightly different aspect of going through change. However, they all emphasize that in the process of transformation and modification, it is important not only to resolve the task structure and project schedule. Equally important is guiding the team and the organization through the process so that the new beginning can prove to be a strong starting point for further project implementation.

If you like our content, join our busy bees community on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok.

Project management change models | #48 Getting started with project management caroline becker avatar 1background

Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.

Getting started with project management:

  1. What is a project?
  2. What is project management?
  3. How to manage projects?
  4. Project management methods
  5. Types of projects
  6. 4 examples of projects
  7. Prioritization of projects
  8. Areas of project activity
  9. Definition of success in project management
  10. Why use project management software?
  11. How to choose the best project management software?
  12. Overview of project management software
  13. Project life cycle
  14. What is the project vision for?
  15. Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
  16. Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
  17. The domain of planning in project management
  18. What is a project schedule and what is it for?
  19. How to use milestones in a project?
  20. Project execution
  21. How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
  22. Importance of project closure
  23. Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
  24. 4Ps of management: project, product, program and portfolio
  25. Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
  26. Most useful project manager skills
  27. How to become a project manager?
  28. 5 books every project manager should read
  29. How to set up a project team?
  30. Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
  31. How to lead a team during hybrid work?
  32. Challenges project managers face when working with a team
  33. Types of project meetings
  34. Project monitoring. What parameters to watch?
  35. How to write a compelling
  36. How to define the scope of a project and avoid scope creep?
  37. Feasibility study – can we implement this project?
  38. Risk analysis in projects and tools to facilitate it
  39. How to create a project charter?
  40. What is a stakeholder register?
  41. Gantt chart in project management planning
  42. How to create a project budget?
  43. Time management in project
  44. How to create a project risk register?
  45. Project risk management strategies
  46. Project marketing
  47. Sources and areas of change in the project
  48. Project management change models
  49. What's after Agile? Methods in project management