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Change Vision

What does it take to put a powerful change vision in place? Here's what the research says...

A strong change vision improves change readiness.

Increase readiness for change with a strong change vision that helps people believe that change is desirable, necessary, and feasible. Readiness for change is one of the most important drivers of employee support for change initiatives at work1,2,9,12,19.

Self-efficacy is important, so a realistic change vision is imperative.

People who believe they can successfully undertake a change are more likely to support rather than resist. Confidence in personal capability to take on the change and confidence in the organization's capability to take on the change both matter1,2,8,9,11,12,19.

A clear change vision improves attitudes towards change.

A compelling change vision statement increases commitment and satisfaction. A strong change vision statement

  • is easy to communicate quickly
  • emotionally appeals to employees, customers, stakeholders
  • clarifies the direction the organization wants to move in7,13,20

Hear Dr. John Kotter describe creating a powerful vision for change:

Effective goal-setting boosts change success.

Change introduces new goals, or modifies/replaces existing goals. Successful goal attainment is most likely when goals are:

  • considered important
  • framed as opportunities
  • challenging but not impossible
  • specific

Help people turn a change vision into great goals15,16,17.

Change participation matters.

Engaging people in participative strategies before and during a change reduces anxiety and increases positive feelings and empowerment. Include people in shaping and retelling the change vision1,3,10,18.

The impact of change participation is lasting.

Participation during a change effort improves sustained commitment to a change, thus increasing the likelihood of long-term success. Time spent including people early on in the change vision continues to pay off as the change journey proceeds1,4,5,6.

Change communication matters.

Providing high-quality and transparent change information grows trust, increases commitment, and improves job satisfaction before and during a change journey. Start with communicating the change vision, and keep building the new story14,18,19.


  1. Armenakis, A. A., & Harris, S. G. (2009). Reflections: Our journey in organizational change research and practice. Journal of Change Management, 9(2), 127–142.
  2. Armenakis, A. A., Harris, S. G., & Mossholder, K. W. (1993). Creating readiness for organizational change. Human Relations, 46(6), 681–703.
  3. Bartunek, J. M., Rousseau, D. M., Rudolph, J. W., & DePalma, J. A. (2006). On the receiving end: Sensemaking, emotion, and assessments of an organizational change initiated by others. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 42(2), 182–206.
  4. Buchanan, D., Fitzgerald, L., Ketley, D., Gollop, R., Jones, J. L., Lamont, S. S., Neath, A., & Whitby, E. (2005). No going back: A review of the literature on sustaining organizational change. International Journal of Management Reviews, 7(3), 189–205.
  5. Burnes, B. (2015). Understanding resistance to change – building on Coch and French. Journal of Change Management, 15(2), 92–116.
  6. Coch, L., & French, J. R. P. (1948). Overcoming resistance to change. Human Relations, 1(4), 512–532.
  7. Cole, M. S., Harris, S. G., & Bernerth, J. B. (2006). Exploring the implications of vision, appropriateness, and execution of organizational change. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 27(5), 352–367.
  8. Cunningham, C. E., Woodward, C. A., Shannon, H. S., MacIntosh, J., Lendrum, B., Rosenbloom, D., & Brown, J. (2002). Readiness for organizational change: A longitudinal study of workplace, psychological and behavioural correlates. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 75(4), 377–392.
  9. Ford, J. K., & Foster-Fishman, P. (2012). Organizational Development and Change: Linking Research from the Profit, Nonprofit, and Public Sectors (S. W. J. Kozlowski, Ed.). Oxford University Press.
  10. Fuchs, S., & Prouska, R. (2014). Creating positive employee change evaluation: The role of different levels of organizational support and change participation. Journal of Change Management, 14(3), 361–383.
  11. Holt, D. T., Armenakis, A. A., Feild, H. S., & Harris, S. G. (2007). Readiness for organizational change: The systematic development of a scale. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 43(2), 232–255.
  12. Holt, D. T., & Vardaman, J. M. (2013). Toward a comprehensive understanding of readiness for change: The case for an expanded conceptualization. Journal of Change Management, 13(1), 9–18.
  13. Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73, 59–67.
  14. Lines, R., Selart, M., Espedal, B., & Johansen, S. T. (2005). The production of trust during organizational change. Journal of Change Management, 5(2), 221–245.
  15. Locke, E. A. (1996). Motivation through conscious goal setting. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 5(2), 117–124.
  16. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705–717.
  17. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2006). New directions in goal-setting theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(5), 265–268.
  18. Rafferty, A. E., & Restubog, S. L. D. (2010). The impact of change process and context on change reactions and turnover during a merger. Journal of Management, 36(5), 1309–1338.
  19. Vakola, M. (2013). Multilevel readiness to organizational change: A conceptual approach. Journal of Change Management, 13(1), 96–109.
  20. Zaccaro, S., & Banks, D. J. (2001). Leadership, vision, and organizational effectiveness. In S. Zaccaro & R. J. Klimoski (Eds.), The Nature of Organizational Leadership Understanding the Performance Imperatives Confronting Today’s Leaders (pp. 181–210). Jossey-Bass Inc.
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