Regardless of what kind of company you oversee, the reality is that at some point you will have to contend with changes.

From relocations to acquisitions and mergers, to changes in senior leadership, businesses are constantly evolving and changing. Sometimes it impacts your day-to-day function, other times it is felt at a high level and not company-wide. Regardless, developing a change management strategy can make these transitions easier.

A good change management strategy starts at the top, identifying who will be affected by the changes, how they will be affected, and exactly what is changing (processes, systems, roles, etc.). It also identifies risks and potential problems from the onset, allowing your team to address these issues before they can disrupt functionality in significant ways. 

You can loop in your human resources, upper management, and other key teams to proactively deal with perception, communication, and resistance surrounding the change. This proactive approach sets up your teams for success.

Truly effective change management strategy also differs in every situation, because every situation is unique. While it’s important to tailor the management process to each individual scenario, some principles can be applied across specific scenarios. 

The ADDIE Model

One change management strategy -- the ADDIE model -- is frequently used by instructional designers and training developers. It is an incredibly common design model, which has been repeatedly customized and slightly varied to better suit specific needs.

The five phases of ADDIE -- Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation -- each outline a key step in building effective training, performance, and support tools.

Together, they comprise an Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model. There are a variety of other ISD models, many of which tweak the ADDIE model’s approaches. 

In ADDIE, each step has an outcome that feeds into the subsequent step.

The Five Phases of ADDIE

The Five Phases of ADDIE graphic


In this phase, the instructional problem is identified and clearly defined. What is the goal of the training itself? This answer is critical, as it influences a mass amount of decisions later on.

You will also need to identify the learners existing knowledge and skills, and knowledge gaps. Instructional goals and objectives are then established.

Some questions you may ask during the analysis phase include:

  • Who is the audience that is being taught/trained? What are they like?
  • What is the desired new behavioral outcome?
  • What types of learning constraints exist?
  • Will training actually help?
  • What are the delivery options? What are the best choices for this audience?
  • What is the timeline for implementation?

This phase is essentially a full audit of your audience, goals, methods, etc. At the end of the analysis, you should have identified training needs and a training plan. Once this thorough analysis is complete, you can then move onto the next step.


Now that you have identified your training needs, you’ll need to put those learnings into practice.

The design phase is systematic, logical, and orderly. You will identify, develop, and evaluate a set of planned strategies to meet your training needs. This includes identifying the structure and duration of the training, the best delivery methods, and the assessment tools. 

Each piece of the design needs to be carefully and specifically executed -- designed to meet the needs identified during analysis. One way to achieve this is to storyboard ideas, or create a prototype. This not only allows you to practically see if the design makes sense, but allows becomes a shareable example for team members and other stakeholders, gaining their buy-in early on, and ensuring that people feel this training is valuable.

During this phase, the design team will:

  • Document the design strategy (instructional, visual, and technical)
  • Apply instructional strategies to create the desired behavioral outcomes
  • Create storyboards and/or prototypes
  • Design the user interface and user experience
  • Apply graphic and visual design

Ultimately, this phase should result in learning objectives; associated content, lessons, and exercises; assessment tools; subject matter analysis; and media selection.


Onto course creation! This next step is where the developers get to assemble all the pieces created during the design, relying upon the storyboards and prototypes for guidance.

Programmers develop or integrate various technologies, matching each element to the design phase, and carefully selecting graphics, colors, fonts, etc. to ensure that the content is engaging and memorable.

The design is reviewed for errors -- from colors that are too bright to typos or grammatical errors. Processes, procedures, mechanics, and navigation are tested, adjusted, and perfected until there are no bugs. Overall functionality is reviewed and revised according to feedback from multiple sources.

These iterations of testing are critical. Often mistakes are made in this phase simply because designers do not review functionality from the perspective of a learner. 

Assess your design by asking if a learner can progress in the way you designed. Check to see if sections are too long, too dry. Does this layout make sense? Does this navigation work, even if the learner makes unexpected decisions? Does content flow appropriately, or are topical changes too abrupt?

A systematic check for accuracy and navigational ease means taking the course repeatedly, not just half-heartedly flipping through it.


With course content developed and fully tested, it’s time for the learners to be able to access it. 

Facilitators and training leaders (if relevant) are obviously trained first, so that they can then roll out the content to their learners. These trainers will be instructed in curriculum, learning outcomes, method of delivery, and assessment procedures. 

If self-guided, the courses are uploaded into a learning management system, and the delivery options are set up. (Who can enroll, how much time do they have to complete the coursework, what are the standard marks for passing the assessment at the end of the course?)

You may want to test implementation with a pilot group before rolling out the content to the masses. The project manager or management team overseeing the pilot group can also verify that all equipment, tools, etc. are in place, and that the delivery method is functional and accessible.


The final ADDIE model phase is evaluation. 

While the ADDIE process depends upon each stage being done in the given order, allowing for focus in each phase, it is also a powerful model for improving each iteration. Within each of the five phases of ADDIE, there is time to reflect, adjust, and repeat, creating a streamlined approach, but one that enables continuous feedback.

At the end of ADDIE, you can get even more feedback, evaluating every aspect of the courses so that future course creation is even more seamless. One easy way to do this is to ask learners to complete a course survey. 

Ask targeted questions that allow you to determine if you met the goals identified during the analysis phase, if the delivery method was effective, and more. Also allow learners to provide their own feedback, in case participants have suggestions or identify gaps you may not have realized.

This will provide you with actionable changes for current or future courses.

About the Author

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Sarah Falcon

VP, Marketing Global

Sarah is a nimble and creative marketing leader with 15 years of experience in a mix of agencies, B2B, and B2C enterprises. She brings a background in building and driving impactful marketing practices and processes for growing businesses. Sarah has expertise in brand, content marketing, lead generation, and marketing operations. She’s a co-author of the 2019 book on B2B eCommerce Digital Branch Secrets: eCommerce Playbook for Distributors.

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