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3 Essential Tools for Mitigating Risk in Change Management

When successful, change management projects can move a company forward into new and stronger competitive positions.

However, like all changes, these projects are not always successful or, when successful, that success is not always sustained. Some projects are even so difficult to implement and sustain that the Six Sigma Black Belts question whether the project was worth the effort.

Every change strategy comes with its own levels of risk, and we’ve pulled together three essential tools that we find work well together to minimize that risk:


  1. Communication Plan: A communication plan must be built on the information needs of the targets. Targets want to hear from their management cascade, not just from the change agents.  This plan should include multiple media, should begin at the very outset of the program, continue throughout the implementation and provide communication methods by which targets and sponsors can stay in touch as to any problems and progress.
  2. Learning Plan: The second tool, a learning plan, is usually well addressed by the Project Team and provides insight into how the lack of skill or knowledge or experience could potentially cause resistance and enhances the development of the plan.
  3. The third tool for risk mitigation is the Reward System – a tool that isn’t always taken advantage of. After providing sufficient information about the need to change, the description of the improved state, and after demonstrating the ability and willingness of the change sponsors and change agents to change, there still may be populations who resist the change. To reduce that resistance, the Project Team needs to build a system of rewards for each target group. That way, if the targets chose to change, they’re rewarded. And if they chose not to change, there are negative consequences.

What’s your experience with risk mitigation? How might one of these plans you mitigate risk the next time your organization goes through change?

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