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change management

Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with change, both from the perspective of an organization and on the individual level.

1) Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with change, both from the perspective of an organization and on the individual level. A somewhat ambiguous term, change management has at least three different aspects, including: adapting to change, controlling change, and effecting change. A proactive approach to dealing with change is at the core of all three aspects. For an organization, change management means defining and implementing procedures and/or technologies to deal with changes in the business environment and to profit from changing opportunities.

Successful adaptation to change is as crucial within an organization as it is in the natural world. Just like plants and animals, organizations and the individuals in them inevitably encounter changing conditions that they are powerless to control. The more effectively you deal with change, the more likely you are to thrive. Adaptation might involve establishing a structured methodology for responding to changes in the business environment (such as a fluctuation in the economy, or a threat from a competitor) or establishing coping mechanisms for responding to changes in the workplace (such as new policies, or technologies).

Terry Paulson, the author of Paulson on Change, quotes an uncle's advice: "It's easiest to ride a horse in the direction it is going." In other words, don't struggle against change; learn to use it to your advantage.

2) In a computer system environment, change management refers to a systematic approach to keeping track of the details of the system (for example, what operating system release is running on each computer and which fixes have been applied).

This was first published in September 2010

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