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What are the 7 C of change management?

Change management is the process of helping individuals, teams, and organizations transition from their current state to a desired future state. To effectively manage change, organizations often rely on change management models which provide frameworks for planning and implementing organizational change. One popular model is the 7 C model which identifies seven key areas that leaders and change agents must consider in order to drive successful and sustainable change.

What are the 7 Cs of change management?

The 7 Cs of change management stand for:

  • Cause
  • Customer
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creative Innovation
  • Control
  • Culture

Let’s explore each of the 7 Cs in more detail:


The first C focuses on identifying the causes and reasons for the change. Change leaders must understand the current issues, challenges or opportunities the organization is facing that are driving the need for change. Some example causes could include:

  • Declining sales, revenue or profitability
  • Increasing competition
  • High employee turnover
  • Outdated technology systems
  • Compliance issues
  • New innovations or product offerings in the industry
  • A merger, acquisition or restructuring

Clearly identifying the causes for change helps leaders design a focused change strategy that targets the core issues.


The customer C focuses on the impact of the change on customers and end users. Leaders must consider how the change will affect customer experiences, satisfaction and relationships. Some key questions include:

  • How will the change impact customers day-to-day?
  • Could it introduce new pain points or inconveniences?
  • Will it improve or enhance the customer experience?
  • Do customers need to be educated on new processes?
  • How should customer communication and feedback be managed during the change?

Keeping the customer at the forefront ensures the change initiative does not lose sight of the end user and their needs.


The collaboration C focuses on partnering with both internal and external stakeholders through the change process. Leaders must identify key stakeholders across departments, functions and organizations that need to be engaged, aligned and collaborate to make the change successful. Some best practices for enabling collaboration include:

  • Form a cross-functional change leadership team
  • Engage middle management and frontline employees in designing the change
  • Partner with external vendors, consultants or experts as needed
  • Leverage project management tools to enable transparency and coordination
  • Develop mechanisms for stakeholders to provide feedback and input

Taking a collaborative approach leads to greater buy-in and ownership over the change.


The communication C focuses on communicating frequently, openly and transparently with all impacted stakeholders. Clear, consistent messaging helps ensure awareness, understanding and engagement at all levels. Some best practices for communication include:

  • Develop a structured communication plan and timeline
  • Communicate the rationale, objectives, timelines of the change initiative
  • Provide regular project updates and celebrate milestones
  • Have senior leaders publicly endorse and sponsor the change
  • Train frontline managers on how to hold change discussions with teams
  • Provide multiple channels for asking questions and providing feedback

Thoughtful and proactive communication drives alignment across the organization and mitigates uncertainty about the change.

Creative Innovation

The creative innovation C focuses on embracing creativity, flexibility and new thinking throughout the change process. Since change inherently involves moving into new territory, leaders must be open to exploring possibilities rather than anchoring in the status quo. Some ways to encourage innovation include:

  • Challenge teams to brainstorm new and better ways of operating
  • Incentivize idea generation and creative problem-solving
  • Pilot and test innovative programs on a small scale
  • Develop mechanisms for capturing ideas from frontline employees
  • Consider how other industries or competitors are innovating
  • Bring in external consultants or advisors who offer fresh perspective

Innovation enables the organization to continuously improve and optimize as it adapts to the change.


The control C focuses on establishing sufficient oversight, governance and controls throughout the change process. While change requires agility, leaders must also put in place mechanisms for tracking progress, managing risk, and measuring results. Some best practices include:

  • Develop a detailed project plan with clear deliverables, timelines and resource requirements
  • Define quantitative and qualitative success metrics upfront
  • Conduct regular evaluations to identify potential barriers and course correct
  • Assign clear decision-making authority for approving changes or resources
  • Establish routine progress reports and dashboards for transparency
  • Incorporate pilot tests and staged rollouts to contain risk

Embedding appropriate controls provides structure amidst the ambiguity of change and enables issues to be quickly identified and addressed.


The culture C focuses on the human dynamics of change management. Organizational culture is made up of the shared mindsets, habits and behaviors embedded in the company. Leaders must assess and adapt the culture to support the change. Some key strategies include:

  • Identify cultural barriers to the change and address upfront
  • Ensure the change aligns with the underlying organizational values
  • Realign recognition programs and incentives to reinforce new behaviors
  • Model the desired mindsets and ways of working as a leadership team
  • Invest in training and coaching to develop new skills and capabilities

Shaping organizational culture reduces resistance and accelerates adoption of the change across the company.


The 7 Cs model provides an all-encompassing framework for leaders to drive successful change management. By focusing on cause, customer, collaboration, communication, creative innovation, control and culture, organizations can overcome the hurdles that commonly hinder transformation initiatives. The model ultimately emphasizes the need to balance strategy with empathy, structure with agility, and execution with engagement when introducing organizational change. While implementing change is always challenging, mastering these 7 Cs prepares leaders to shepherd their company and employees through the transition in an effective way.