Welcome to the Change Management Tutorial Series

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Change Management Learning Center - managing change library


Change management - Frequently Asked Questions tutorial

Prosci analysts are always available to answer questions about change management. This new tutorial series will be a place for our analysts to capture and share some of the most frequently asked questions. We will be updating the page on an ongoing basis, so you may want to bookmark the page and come back periodically to see what new questions have been added.

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Jump to a specific FAQ:
  • Why is change management different than other recent management fads?
  • Is it necessary to create a "burning platform" in order to create awareness of the need to change?
  • What are the most important things to do to get my managers and supervisors supporting change management?
  • What is the ROI of change management?
  • We have had limited success with written forms of communication for building awareness. Why are these communication channels not working?
  • How do I share Prosci's change management materials in my organization?


Why is change management different than other recent management fads?

Change management is different than some of the other recent management fads - some of which are still around and others of which have faded away. The main difference is the focus of the two groups. Most of the recent management fads have been approaches for fixing or addressing particular management problems or issues. However, change management is different. It is the set of tools, processes and principles to help individuals successfully navigate any number of organizational changes - even those changes that are the current fad.

In Prosci's certification program, participants bring a specific project they are working on in their organization and must develop a change management strategy and presentation that is delivered to one of Prosci's instructors. At these sessions, we see change management being applied to a huge assortment of organizational changes - for example, implementing an ERP, bringing three different business units together into one division, physically moving office spaces, redeploying thousands of employees, implementing business processes for a single team of creative designers, rolling out a global diversity strategy in a multinational company with over 50,000 employees, approaching a new sales channel or releasing a new product or implementing a new performance review system.

Regardless of the type of change (some of which might be the current fad), change management helps individuals make the transition successfully. As long as there are people in the organization and changes that impact how those people do their jobs, there will be a need for change management. Find out more in the Defining change management, project management and "the change" tutorial.  


Is it necessary to create a "burning platform" in order to create awareness of the need to change?

A "burning platform" is a term used to describe an extremely urgent or compelling business situation in order to convey, in the strongest terms, the need for change. Using this process, you can get people’s attention and build awareness of the need for change very quickly. The only caveat is that not every change can have a burning platform. If this were to become the norm, employees may begin to ignore the message (not everything can be an emergency). As the old story goes, you do not want to be caught “crying wolf” for every change, in case you find yourself really faced by a wolf and no one responds to your call.

* This FAQ comes from the book ADKAR: A model for change by Prosci President Jeff Hiatt


What are the most important things to do to get my managers and supervisors supporting change management?

The first step is to realize that to be a good coach of their direct reports, managers and supervisors must first be on board with the change themselves. We need to first build support and buy-in for the change with managers and supervisor, and then ask them to fulfill their role in managing the change with their direct reports. Building support for the change itself with managers and supervisors can be done by using ADKAR. The manager or supervisor needs: 1) Awareness of the need for change; 2) Desire to participate and support the change; 3) Knowledge on how to change; 4) Ability to implement required skills and behaviors; 5) Reinforcement to sustain the change.

Best practice research shows several change management roles of managers and supervisors. First, they are preferred senders of communication messages, specifically on the personal impact of a change. Project teams and change management leaders need to provide managers and supervisors with the information they need to communicate effectively with employees. Managers and supervisors are key in the group coaching and individual coaching sessions that build support and buy-in throughout the organization. They fill an important role in identifying and managing resistance to change. Lastly, participants in the 2007 study identified direct supervisors as the best source of recognition and reinforcement to sustain a change.

While managers and supervisors play a central role in successful change, only 24% of the 2007 benchmarking study participants heavily engaged managers and supervisors in managing change. There is still work to be done. 


What is the ROI of change management?

The ROI of change management is an interesting question, because there is no 'control group' to compare what happened with or without change management. When we apply change management, we alter the path the organization takes for any given change or project, so we do not have a "what if we didn't use change management" scenario to compare against. A similar problem arises with project management - what is the ROI of using project management? We cannot be sure because on a particular project, we either use project management or we don't. Below are some different approaches Prosci and our community have used to build a compelling case for the return created by applying change management.

  • Show a correlation - while it is very difficult to make a definitive statement about the dollars and cents related to change management, analysis can be done on the correlation of effective change management with the ability to meet project objectives. McKinsey Quarterly has a study that shows a very strong correlation, and three sets of Prosci benchmarking data show this strong correlation as well. So, the statement shifts from "change management returns X dollars" to "change management increases the probability of meeting objectives by Y percent". In the next several weeks, Prosci will release the correlation analysis from the 2007 benchmarking study.
  • Validate value with experience - there are many qualitative reasons for using change management, symptoms that we may not be able to quantify but can feel within the organization. The Why change management tutorial includes a list of the impacts of poorly managing change and the benefits of effective change management - including examples shared by our user community. Another approach to validating value is to use anecdotes from people within the organization who have experience with projects that were both successful using change management and unsuccessful due to ignoring change management. These people can share their personal accounts and examples to bolster the value of change management.
  • Prosci's ROI of change management model - the Prosci ROI of change management model describes the three human factors that contribute to or constrain a project's ability to meet its objectives. When a project changes how people do their jobs, the value the project delivers is tied to the: 1) speed of adoption (how quickly people adopt the change); 2) ultimate utilization (how many people make the change); and 3) proficiency (how much improvement is each person realizing). Find out more in the ROI of change management model tutorial.

Two final thoughts. First, change management is a tool that supports the implementation of specific changes. The value of change management (and similarly project management) is helping the project meet its objectives. Change management is not an end in-and-of-itself, it is a means to achieve project objectives. Second, sometime those who challenge and request that the ROI of change management be proven may be actually demonstrating resistance to change management itself. Be sure to think about the root cause of the question "what is the ROI of change management" and utilize other resistance management techniques when necessary.


We have had limited success with written forms of communication for building awareness. Why are these communication channels not working?

Over the past eight years in four longitudinal studies by Prosci, project teams report that face-to-face discussions that are honest and straightforward, and that offer details of the change on a personal level, are the most effective form of communication. Face-to-face interactions are more effective than written communications for a number of reasons:

  • Not everyone reads every email or newsletter article.
  • What the author of an email or document meant as compared with what the reader understood are not always the same. One-way communications do not have the ability to correct these misunderstandings.
  • Often emails or articles are not authored by a “preferred sender” – the person that an employee would respect or trust to convey the awareness message.
  • The most effective communications include not only content, but also tone and body language. Written information cannot convey these other forms of communication. Often employees will respond based on the reactions of others around them. Getting those “nods of agreement” in face-to-face interactions can be half the battle.

Find out more in Prosci's Communication checklist tutorial - a simple set of questions you can use to audit your communication plans. Also, Prosci's Change Management Toolkit and Change Management Pilot include complete step-by-step guidelines and complete templates for building research-based communication plans.

* This FAQ comes from the book ADKAR: A model for change by Prosci President Jeff Hiatt


How do I share Prosci's change management materials in my organization?

Prosci has a number of options to help you share our research and materials throughout your organization. Each day, Prosci works to enable organizations from across the world and from numerous industries to build their change management competencies using our research-based, holistic and easy-to-use materials. From a research and materials perspective, Prosci has a variety of licensing arrangements that enable you to utilize particular resources or the entire body of Prosci intellectual property. From a training perspective, Prosci's new and improved Train-the-Trainer Program provides you the knowledge, foundation and skills to teach Prosci's programs within your organization. Email a Prosci analyst or call 970-203-9332 to find out more about these offerings.



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Ask a Prosci analyst - find out about best practices and how you can use the checklist in your organization
Order online - secure server Order the Change Management Toolkit or Change Management Pilot for complete change management assessments, templates, guidelines and plans



Tools for applying change management:

  • Change management certification ($2800)- 3-day program where you bring a project you are working on and apply all of the assessments and tools as you learn them - taught by former Fortune 500 executives at locations across the U.S.
  • Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report ($289) - journal-style report with lessons learned and best practices from 650 participants, presented in an easy-to-use format - reads as a checklist of what to do and what not to do
  • Change Management Toolkit ($389) - hardcopy 3-ring binder presenting Prosci's change management methodology, includes templates, checklists and assessments for managing the people side of change (includes USB drive)
  • Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors ($189) - tools to help supervisors engage and coach their direct reports through change (includes 4 copies of the Employee's Survival Guide)
  • Change Management Pilot ($449) - online tool including Prosci's change management methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments, presentations and checklists
  • Change Management Pilot Professional ($559) - the content of the Change Management Pilot plus additional benchmarking data and an online version of the Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors
  • Change Management: the people side of change ($18.95) - a primer for anyone involved in organizational change that addresses why manage change, individual change management and organizational change management
  • Employee's Survival Guide to Change (14.95) - a handbook to help employees survive and thrive during change, answers frequently asked questions and empowers employees to take charge of change


*** 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


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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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