Learning from the Past: How to Assess and Leverage Your Organization’s Change History

Every organization is a living history book, with pages filled with the tales of change. These stories are not just relics of the past; they shape the culture and resilience of a company as it faces new challenges. Understanding your organization’s change history is crucial as it offers rich lessons that can guide current and future initiatives. This blog introduces the vital practice of evaluating your organization’s change history—an exercise paramount to effective change management.

Understanding the Impact of Change History

Evaluating your organization’s change history is like unearthing archaeological layers of an ancient city—each layer offers insights into how the city evolved. Similarly, delving into the fabric of past changes reveals patterns and behaviors that could either empower or hinder future transformations. gnoring these can lead to repeating past mistakes, but learning from them can enhance your future strategies.

Gathering Insights from the Change Targets

Change affects people differently. Thus, it is critical to involve those who have weathered the storms of past transitions. Gather a group of ‘change targets’—those employees who have felt the direct impact of previous changes. Engage them in discussions to recount their experiences. Analyzing these accounts is the groundwork for formulating informed and resilient future change strategies.


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The Change History Checklist

The Change History Checklist serves as a diagnostic tool, offering a structured method to review and assess the effectiveness of past change management approaches. Each statement in the checklist acts as a measure of past performance:

  • Consistent application of sound change-management strategies ensures that change is not a one-off event but a sustainable process.
  • Rewarding effective change handlers motivates and reinforces positive change behaviors.
  • Clear communication and learning opportunities mean everyone understands the ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how’ of change.
  • Providing necessary resources signifies a commitment to support the change adequately.
  • Owning up to failures and admitting mistakes cultivates a culture of transparency and continuous improvement.
  • Articulating the need for change across the organization helps align efforts and direction.
  • Defining the desired state ensures that everyone is working towards a common vision.
  • Addressing and managing resistance to change is crucial to maintain momentum.
  • Involving workers at all levels in the change process promotes ownership and engagement.
  • Recognizing and celebrating achievements boosts morale and cements the change in the organizational culture. 

Analyzing Your Findings

Reviewing the responses from the checklist offers a clear perspective on what has worked well and what hasn’t. “Yes” answers indicate strengths to build upon, while “No” answers highlight opportunities for growth. Organizations can use this feedback to tailor their change management processes to be more effective and sensitive to their unique context.


change history

Practical Examples of Change History

Starbucks and Tesla are two notable examples of companies that have utilized their change history to improve their approach to managing new changes.

After facing challenges during the late 2000s, including the global financial crisis and an over-expansion that diluted its brand, Starbucks undertook a significant change management program. They closed underperforming stores, refocused on core products, improved customer service, and launched new store designs and customer feedback mechanisms. The leadership communicated the need for change effectively and engaged employees in the change process. Starbucks emerged from this period with increased profitability, improved customer satisfaction, and regained its position as a leader in the coffee industry. This demonstrates the importance of strong leadership, effective communication, and employee engagement during the change process.

Tesla’s change management approach is founded on its mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. It has incorporated key principles such as clear communication, data-driven decision-making, agile methodology, employee empowerment, sustainability focus, innovation and R&D, and strategic acquisitions. The company’s flexibility and adaptability in the change process, its open-door policy for employee feedback, and its strong investment in customer service and community building have been instrumental in navigating change. The brand loyalty and customer focus Tesla maintains have been significant factors in successfully managing change.

These examples from Starbucks and Tesla highlight the effectiveness of clear communication, data to guide decision-making, employee engagement, customer centricity, and maintaining brand values during times of change. By looking back at their change history and learning from it, they could craft strategies that have led to success and growth despite the challenges faced.

Action Steps for Improvement

For organizations that find more “no” responses than “yes,” there is still a path forward. Transform those “no” answers into “yes” by learning from past missteps. Develop training programs to enhance change leadership skills, establish clearer communication channels, and set up recognition systems for celebrating change milestones.


Remember, each change your organization undergoes leaves a footprint on the path to future success. Understanding your organization’s change history is not merely a retrospective exercise; it’s a strategic imperative. Organizations can illuminate the path forward by conducting a thorough assessment of previous change initiatives, involving a diverse array of perspectives, and applying a structured approach like the Change History Checklist.

Drawing on the power of historical insights, businesses can foster cultures of resilience and adaptability, ensuring that they are not just moving but advancing with each new change. Let the lessons of the past fortify your future strategies, and may your organization’s change narrative be marked by continuous learning and perpetual growth.

We Can Help

LaMarsh Global’s change management model is designed to guide organizations through this complex process, ensuring that change is implemented and embraced by those it impacts.

Check out LaMarsh’s transformation management training and certification opportunities. If you have any questions, please contact us for more information.

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