The concepts of change readiness and change management are related because they both deal with change. But in what ways are they different and how should we think about each of them?

Here’s an analogy that will help us understand the differences. Imagine you wanted to repaint an old house. The walls are dirty and stained by grubby fingers and smokey fires.

You’re not going to get a good result if you put paint on these walls. It will peel off before long and dark stains will leach through the new paintwork. Just ignoring the grime and stains would be the easiest thing to do, but it is a bad strategy. A much better strategy is to get ready for the new paintwork.

Getting ready means cleaning with sugar soap, sanding surfaces, patching holes and cracks, and treating areas of mould. Unless you do this preparatory work, you will not get good results.

It is only after completing this “getting ready work” that you should think about repainting the surfaces. 

This is an imperfect example but it illustrates a point. If you embark on a change project without doing the necessary readiness work, you are unlikely to get the results you want. This is not pessimistic thinking; it is reality. Change only ‘sticks’ to well-prepared surfaces.

We know what washing walls and repairing holes looks like, but what does creating change readiness look like? It looks like moving the right dials on a dashboard. These dials are a set of formulas. The formulas refer to how people think and what they do. The formulas are based on psychology and education.

Reach out to me if you need help getting these dials set right for your organisation or team.

Steve Barlow
Author: Steve Barlow

Steve heads up The Change Gym. He is a change readiness specialist. You can contact him at