Welcome to the Change Management Tutorial Series
Change management: the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve a required business outcome.
Providing context - the background story
"What is change management?" This is a question you may have heard from colleagues or coworkers in passing or in formal presentations. While many of us "know" intuitively what change management is, we have a hard time conveying to others what we really mean.
In thinking about how to define change management, it is important to provide context related to two other concepts - the change itself and project management. This tutorial shows how change management and project management are two critical disciplines that are applied to a variety of organizational changes to improve the likelihood of success and return on investment. As a starting point, remember the scope of focus for "the change", project management and change management:
Ultimately, the goal of change is to improve the organization by altering how work is done
When you introduce a change to the organization, you are ultimately going to be impacting one or more of the following four parts of how the organization operates:
While there are numerous approaches and tools that can be used to improve the organization, all of them ultimately prescribe adjustments to one or more of the four parts of the organization listed above. Ultimately, "the change" in an organization is initiated to move from a current state to a desired future state, where performance is better than it had been. There are numerous examples of "the changes" happening in organizations right now, including: Six Sigma initiatives, new performance review systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications, 360 degree evaluations, virtual work environments, Balanced Scorecards, mergers/acquisitions, or implementing a Project Management Office (PMO). Each of these examples of "the change" have a future state they are trying to achieve.
The change typically results as a reaction to specific problems or opportunities the organization is facing based on internal or external stimuli. While the notion of "becoming more competitive" or "becoming closer to the customer" or "becoming more efficient" can be the motivation to change, at some point these goals must be transformed into the specific impacts on processes, systems, organization structures or job roles. This is the process of defining "the change".
Formally defining change management and project management
It is not enough to merely prescribe "the change" and expect it to happen - creating change within an organization takes hard work and structure around what must actually take place to make the change happen. To begin, we look at the formal definitions of project management and change management - two key disciplines required to bring a change to life. These are two commonly accepted definitions that help us begin to think about these two distinct but intertwined disciplines.
As shown in Figure 1, both project management and change management support moving an organization from a current state (how things are done today), through a transition state to a future state (the new processes, systems, organization structures or job roles defined by "the change"). Project management focuses on the tasks to achieve the project requirements. Change management focuses on the people impacted by the change.
Any change to processes, systems, organization structures and/or job roles will have a "technical" side and a "people" side that must be managed. Project management and change management have evolved as disciplines to provide both the structure and the tools needed to realize change successfully on the technical and people side.
Thinking about what each tool is trying to achieve
So, project management outlines the specific activities for defining and prescribing how to move from point A to point B (by changing processes, systems, organization structures or job roles). Change management outlines the steps needed to help the individuals impacted by the change adopt it and do their jobs in the new way (for example, people transitioning from fulfilling function "a" to function "b" as shown in Figure 2).
The goal of "the change" is to improve the organization's performance by reaching a future state. The goal of project management is to effectively deploy resources in a structured manner to develop and implement the solution - in terms of what needs to be done to processes, systems, organization structure and job roles. The goal of change management is to help each individual impacted by the change to make a successful transition, given what is required by the solution.
Using the right amount
Each initiative or project you undertake requires some level of project management and change management. These two disciplines are tools used to support the implementation of a variety of changes that you may be undertaking. For example, think about the simplistic but illustrative table below:
Note: All of the projects mentioned above need both project management and change management. There are very few instances where you will not need both disciplines.
Change management and project management are tools that need to be applied independent of the actual change that you are undertaking. Anytime you alter processes, systems, organization structures or job roles, you need a structured approach to manage both the "technical" side and the "people" side of the pending change.
Do project management and change management look the same for every initiative? Typically, no. While the right amount of project management and change management is at least some, each of these tools are at their best when they are customized for the unique situation that you are facing and are fully integrated. Your organization, its culture and history, and the specific change that you are implementing all influence the right amount of project management and change management.
Separate but integrated in practice
So far in this tutorial, project management and change management have been discussed as two distinct disciplines. While separate as fields of study, on a real project change management and project management are often integrated. The steps and activities move in unison as teams work to move from the current state to a desired future state.
As an example, think about what activities occur during the planning phase of a project. On the project management side, teams are identifying the milestones and activities that must be completed. They are outlining the resources needed and how they will work together. They are defining the scope of what will be part of the project and what will not be. From a change management side, teams begin crafting key messages that must be communicated. They work with project sponsors to build strong and active coalitions of senior leaders. They begin making the case of why the change is needed to employees throughout the organization, even before the specific details of the solution are complete. The most effective projects integrate these activities into a single project plan.
While integrated in practice, there is certainly value in addressing the two areas separately. Some of the key advantages of this separation include:
The PCT Model as an additional framework for definition
Prosci's Project Change Triangle - or PCT Model - provides another approach for defining and positioning change management. This simple but powerful framework shows the three crucial elements of a successful project as corners of a triangle:
Successful projects have all three components: governance and direction provided by Leadership/Sponsorship, structure and activities to support the technical side of the solution (Project Management), and structure and activities to support the people side of the solution (Change Management). Without all three elements, the triangle will be unbalanced and the project will struggle.
At the center of triangle is the ultimate goals of "the change" that are achieved when all three elements of the triangle are present - meeting objectives, completion on time and on budget and realizing expected Return on Investment.
The PCT Assessment is a tool with 10 questions on each of the corners of the triangle. The assessment can be a useful tool when trying to define change management. The questions for each of the three corners help to further define what is meant by Leadership / Sponsorship, Project Management and Change Management. This assessment is a useful tool in one-on-one conversations or in project team meetings to establish a baseline of what needs to be done on the project and to evaluate the current health or performance of change.
Both the PCT Model itself and the PCT Assessment provide a necessary framework showing the relationship and necessary components of the three essential elements of any change project.
Organizations undertake change in order to improve performance - through reduced costs, improved efficiencies, increased revenue, better utilized employees, reduced risk exposure, etc. To improve performance, changes must be made to the processes, systems organization structures or job roles - and ultimately these changes impact how people do their jobs. For these changes to be successful, they must be managed from a technical perspective using project management and from a people perspective using change management.
The better we can separate out and define change management, project management and "the change" - the more success change efforts will have. Think about what each component is trying to achieve (see the table below) - this is the best way to tell someone else what change management is, and how it is related to "the change" and project management.
Offerings for applying Prosci's change management methodologies:
References and books:
*** Prosci also offers leadership packages - groupings of products at discounts that offer you some of the most helpful and common combinations of Prosci change management resources
Email a Prosci analyst or call 970-203-9332 with questions about the methodology, its application, or finding the right resources to support your change management activities.
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