What is Planned Change? Definition, Features, Needs, Steps, and Theories

Definition of Planned Change

Planned change is a strategic and intentional organizational process involving purposeful adjustments to plans, goals, policies, or strategies. This methodical approach aims to proactively address evolving market dynamics.

Unlike spontaneous adaptations, planned change entails a deliberate and thoughtful restructuring, preparing organizations to stand out in the competitive landscape. It encompasses a systematic process, from recognizing the need for change, setting achievable goals, diagnosing relevant variables, selecting appropriate techniques, and planning implementation to actual execution, evaluation, and follow-up.

Crucially, planned change empowers organizations to adapt to environmental shifts, meet customer expectations, face competition, manage costs effectively, and significantly enhance the likelihood of success through calculated and well-executed transformations.

In essence, it serves as a strategic imperative for businesses navigating the complexities of the ever-changing business environment.

Characteristics of Planned Change

Characteristics of planned change include the following:

Strategic and Deliberate

Planned change is a strategic and deliberate process initiated by organizations to navigate shifting environments. It involves purposeful adjustments, contrasting with spontaneous adaptations. This characteristic signifies a conscious effort to align organizational goals with market dynamics.

Systematic Process

Planned change follows a systematic process involving distinct steps, from recognizing the need for change to evaluating outcomes. This structured approach ensures that every aspect of the transformation is carefully considered, planned, and executed, minimizing the likelihood of oversights or haphazard implementation.


A core characteristic of planned change is its goal-oriented nature. Organizations set clear and achievable objectives before implementation. These goals serve as guiding principles, directing the organization toward desired outcomes and providing a metric for success.

Adaptation to Environment

Planned change is inherently linked to adapting to environmental shifts. It recognizes the dynamic nature of the business environment and aims to equip organizations with the agility to navigate changes in markets, technologies, and customer expectations.

Proactive Response to Challenges

Rather than reacting to unexpected challenges, the planned change allows organizations to proactively address potential issues. By identifying weak areas and anticipating future needs, organizations can implement changes before challenges become critical, fostering a proactive rather than reactive organizational culture.

Read More: 10 Objectives of Organizational Change in Business

Enhanced Probability of Success

A notable characteristic of planned change is its focus on increasing the probability of success. Through meticulous planning, analysis, and calculated execution, organizations reduce the risk associated with change initiatives. This characteristic underscores the importance of careful consideration and strategic thinking in achieving successful transformations.

Steps in Planned Change

Effective planned change requires careful execution of the following steps:

  • Recognition of Need:
    The process begins with recognizing the necessity for change. Organizations identify internal inefficiencies or respond to external market shifts, acknowledging the need for strategic adaptation.
  • Establishment of Goal:
    Once the need is recognized, clear and achievable goals are established. These goals serve as the focal point for the entire change process, providing direction and defining success.
  • Diagnosis of Relevant Variables:
    A thorough analysis follows, involving the identification and understanding of internal and external factors influencing the desired change. This diagnostic step provides crucial insights into the organization’s current state.
  • Selection of Change Technique:
    With the diagnosis complete, a suitable change strategy or technique is selected. The choice is informed by past experiences, current situations, and future possibilities, often involving collaboration with key stakeholders.
  • Planning for Implementation:
    Detailed planning ensues, outlining the necessary steps, timelines, budgets, and roles for executing the change. This phase ensures a structured approach to implementation, minimizing risks and optimizing resources.
  • Actual Implementation:
    The planned strategies are put into action, involving guidance from leadership, engagement of employees, and careful management of potential challenges or resistance during the implementation phase.
  • Evaluation and Follow-Up:
    Following implementation, a comprehensive evaluation is conducted. This involves assessing outcomes, comparing them against established goals, and gathering feedback. Adjustments are made as necessary, and a follow-up plan is developed to monitor the sustainability of the change.

Need for Planned Change

Planned change is necessary in the workplace for the following reasons:

Adapt to Environmental Change

Planned change addresses the imperative for organizations to adapt to the dynamic business environment. As external factors evolve, businesses must proactively modify strategies, policies, and operations to align with new market conditions.

Change in Employees’ Behavior

Recognizing the need for behavioral adjustments, planned change provides a framework for altering employees’ attitudes and responses. Through tools like counseling, training, and motivation, organizations can overcome resistance and foster a culture conducive to change.

Meet Competition

In a competitive market, planned change becomes essential to counter evolving strategies and technologies introduced by competitors. Organizations must swiftly adjust their approaches, ensuring they remain competitive and relevant.

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Fulfill Consumer’s Expectations

Changing societal needs, demands, and expectations necessitate organizations to align their products and services accordingly. Planned change allows businesses to identify and respond to shifting consumer preferences, ensuring continued relevance in the market.

Innovation of New Knowledge

It catalyzes innovation by encouraging the development of new ideas, concepts, and technologies. It facilitates the creation of improved procedures and systems, fostering the introduction of innovative products and services to meet evolving customer demands.

Theories of Planned Change

In addition to the above steps, different scholars also have provided different theories to successfully implement change in the workplace.

Lewin’s Theory of Planned Change

Developed by Kurt Lewin, this model consists of three key stages: Unfreezing, Moving, and Refreezing. Unfreezing involves disrupting existing behaviors, Moving entails implementing the desired changes, and Refreezing establishes the new behaviors as the norm. This model aims to reduce resistance to change by altering factors that maintain the current organizational state.

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Action Research Organization Development Model

This model treats planned change as a cyclical process, emphasizing extensive data gathering before and after implementation. It involves problem identification, consultation with experts, data gathering, client feedback, joint diagnosis, joint action planning, action, and follow-up. Action research aims to assist organizations in implementing planned change while also contributing to general knowledge applicable to other companies.

Contemporary Approaches to Change

Rooted in the action research model, contemporary approaches emphasize high member involvement in the change process. This involves educating members about the company, and their roles in the planned change, and encouraging a strong support system. The focus is on applying knowledge gained from the change process to benefit other organizations.

Read Next: 10 Characteristics of Organizational Change

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