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Ability to Change


Disciplines > Change Management > Readiness for Change > Ability to Change

Skills | Structures | Resources | Support | See also


It is not enough to have the willingness to change -- the people involved also need to have the ability to change.


The first things you need when creating change is for everyone involved to have the skills required to do the job. In practice this typically means some combination of training and hiring.

Skills for creating change

Skills for creating change include those for building structures, creating resources and providing effective support. 

When change happens relatively infrequently, people involved have limited experience and so may find this difficult. On the surface, it may seem relatively straightforward but the frequency of change failure shows that all too often there are insufficient skills employed.

Skills for the new work

When change means changing work and restructuring jobs, people involved need to gain the skills for work that they may well never have done previously.


Change requires changing the organization in some way. Sometimes this is small change and sometimes this is big change. Either way, there are subtle traps that need to be avoided.

Change structures

In order to implement change, you often need a temporary organization that has sufficient authority to make sure changes happen and to oversee the change to ensure it is effective. Typically this includes some kind of managing board with sub-boards to oversee individual projects.

There should also be a system of reporting to the overall business board and include ways of escalating conflicts and issues where the success of the change may be threatened.

Without such structures, the people working in the change can easily be hindered to the point where opponents to the change can easily derail it.

Organization redesign

New, more permanent structures also have to be set up to create the changed organization. This may include:

  • Redesigned processes to change or speed delivery.
  • New or updated IT systems to support process change.
  • Changed roles and responsibilities to enact the new processes.
  • Changed hierarchies and departments to manage the change.

Building a new organization is a complex affair as all structures need to align and work together.


To effect change, you need appropriate resources, including people, equipment and money.

Identification of resources required should be derived from the plans for change. It is a common issue that the requirements of change are underestimated and consequently too little or too weak resources are used.

One of the big questions in business and change is how to deploy your best people. Do you put them in the important operational work or do you put them into the important change work? There is argument for both, but if others can do the operational work it is best to put good people into the difficult work of change.


One of the most common reasons for failure of change is lack of real management support. A typical scenario occurs where managers say they agree with the change but in practice either quietly sabotage it or otherwise provide so little practical support that the change fails.

For people working in change to succeed, they need real and sustained management support, including for creation and sustaining of structures, and provision of necessary support.

See also

Planning for Change, Managing the Change Project


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