Lessons Learned in Change Management

After being a project manager and senior adviser to more than 10 projects since 1983, I have learned some lessons of 4 A's that I wish to share with the TLCA community:

  1. In every project there is a necessary ingredient for success, and that is effective change management procedures must be in place. Most projects will entail changes in the way we work, or change in the systems or change in people's attitudes towards work.
  2. The first 'A' of change is awareness, that is to let the project beneficiaries be aware of what needs to be done, what benefits and what pains may be involved. For that, we need dialogue, communication, convincing and persuasion. It is best if there is a seasoned communication consultant who knows how to influence change.
  3. The second 'A' is that of a acceptance. Without the project beneficiaries accepting the intended change, the project cannot be implemented successfully. Moreover it is extremely difficult to force change upon people who does not accept the change.
  4. The third 'A' is adaptation. Once the change is accepted, the change agent should call upon the project beneficiaries to participate in customizing the proposed project management plan and adapt the plan to the environment in which they work. The adaptation (or customization) process will further encourage project beneficiaries to take ownership of the project.
  5. The final 'A' is that of adoption. The project beneficiaries may actually welcome the changes easier, if they had been aware, and have accepted the intended changes. Finally by participating in adapting or customizing the intended plans to change, the project beneficiaries will have taken fuller ownership of the project.


I concur with the 4As of Change Management, especially the last one "Adoption". We can only say and do so much. But changes can only be truly effective if one has that sense of taking ownership and responsibility.

Hi John,

I support your views about change management as a lot of times conflicts arise at work because we do not apply the 4 A's mentioned.

You have made it easy for anyone to understand change management principles.

Within the top five of my favourite content pieces, thankyou!

I like to add one more "A", which is accountability. In other words, we will not know the extent of the change unless we have someone or something to monitor and verify its progress.

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It makes more sense to me now why many capacity building projects failed in TL. Most of the times, donors forget "acceptance" and "adaption" elements from the beneficiaries but instead "force" them to "adopt" the change that they intend to happen...

Great John, thanks.