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Introduce Change Management in Context with
Prosci's Five Tenets of Change Management

In brief: Prosci's Five Tenets of Change Management help you provide context and introduce the value of change management in terms of project success.

Why do we need change management? The answer may seem obvious to those of us who are change management practitioners. Still, we can get caught up in the details of our current change initiatives and forget about the roots of our practice, or we may struggle in explaining the need for change management in a clear and simple way to those who are unfamiliar with the practice. Prosci's Five Tenets of Change Management aim at providing a clear and simple answer to the question, "Why change management?" These tenets create a starting point and lay the foundation for answering that question.

Attend Prosci's free webinar to learn more about the Five Tents and how you can use them to introduce and justify change management to senior leaders and project managers.

So, if you have become consumed by the intricacies of a current change initiative, or if you could use more tools to build buy-in for change management within your organization, this tutorial allows you to take a step back and consider the need for change management at the elemental level. The five tenets are:

  1. We change for a reason
  2. Organizational change requires individual change
  3. Organizational outcomes are the collective result of individual change
  4. Change management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change
  5. We apply change management to realize the benefits and desired outcomes of change

Now we can use these tenets to lay the foundation for explaining and justifying change management.


Tenet 1 - We change for a reason

Change is about moving out a current state (how things are done today), and through a transition state to reach a desired future state. Usually, the reasons we change are to address a current issue or to take advantage of a future opportunity. Either way, the reason we change is to reach a future state where performance is better than in the current state.

Tenet 2 - Organizational change requires individual change

All too often, business professionals view change as happening at the organizational level. A few examples of this perspective include implementing a new ERP, introducing new documentation and optimization processes, or moving the company to a new location. But each of these initiatives requires individual employees to change the way they currently do their work. What if no one used the new ERP software? What if no one followed the new documentation and optimization processes? What if employees refused to move to the new location? Then the changes would not happen. Therefore, the most basic and true unit of change is the individual before the organization.

Tenet 3 - Organizational outcomes are the collective result of individual change

Only when individuals are able to change effectively can we achieve the desired organizational outcomes of the change. There are three components that determine the "effectiveness" of an individual change which ultimately affect how project ROI, results and outcomes are achieved or missed. The first, speed of adoption, accounts for how quickly employees move through the transition state. The quicker the change is adopted by each individual employee, the more likely the project will come in on schedule and within budget. The second, ultimate utilization, describes how many employees reach their future state. The more individuals that utilize the change, the more likely it is to stick. Finally, the third factor, proficiency, describes how well employees perform in their future state. If employees are able to successful take on their new role or activities, then the organization can realize the benefits of the change.

Tenet 4 - Change management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change

Notice we haven't mentioned "change management" yet. The first three tenets present the reality of change - that it happens at the individual level - and provide the crucial (and often missing) context for change management. Now we can see just how important the role of the individual is in change; the results and outcomes of a change are based on the success of the individual transitions. Without change management, the individual change process is ignored, resulting in slower speed of adoption, lower ultimate utilization and poorer proficiency. Therefore, without change management, the project may not deliver so there is greater risk that the organization does not realize the expected benefits of changing. Understanding how individual and organizational change occurs demonstrates the necessity of having both an individual and organizational perspective in change management.

Tenet 5 - We apply change management to realize the benefits and desired outcomes of change

This is where it all comes together. We need change management because:

  • Results and desired outcomes depend on individual transitions
  • There are people-side factors that determine or constrain project ROI
  • There are costs and risks of ignoring or mismanaging the people side of change
  • Because organizations that apply excellent change management are six times more likely to meet or exceed project objectives than organizations that apply poor change management


To summarize Prosci's Five Tenets of Change Management, we can use the following set of "interview" questions. Consider these questions yourself to get in touch with the basic reasoning of your own change management initiative, or use them in a conversation with the project team to help them see the need for change management.

Tenet 1 - We change for a reason Q: What are the reasons for your change?
Tenet 2 - Organizational change requires individual change Q: Who has to do their jobs differently as a result of your project or initiative?
Tenet 3 - Organization outcomes are the collective result of individual change Q: How do the individual transitions connect directly to the outcomes you expect from your change?
Tenet 4 - Change management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change Q: What structured approach are you taking to enable employees to embrace, adopt and use the change?
Tenet 5 - We apply change management to realize the benefits and desired outcomes of change Q: How important are the benefits and desire outcomes of the change? How much are you willing to do (and invest) to make sure they are realized?


Introducing change management to a senior leader or project manager can be challenging. But, if you are able to ground change management in the realities of change—exactly what the first four tenets do—and you are able to show the impact of change management on project success—which is what the fifth tenet does—you are having a completely different conversation with the people you are engaging. Join Prosci's "Five Tenets of Change Management" webinar to add more intent and structure to the five tenets - Wednesday, Jan 15 at 11:00 AM EST (register) and repeated Thursday, Jan 16 at 4:00 PM EST (register). You will also receive direction on how to apply the tenets to your specific change at hand through a series of exercises and worksheets.


Attend Prosci's free webinar to learn more about the Five Tents and how you can use them to introduce and justify change management to senior leaders and project managers.









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Prosci Change Management Certification

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  • Learn the methodology through practical application to your current project
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Download the certification program brochure

Upcoming sessions:

  • Dec 17 - 19, 2013: Washington, DC area
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  • 2014 dates now available - see the calendar


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Offerings for applying Prosci's change management methodologies:


  • Prosci's site licenses are a great solution for building change management capabilities and competencies throughout your organization. With a site license, you can customize and integrate Prosci's world-leading research and methodologies to fit your organization and begin building the individual competencies necessary for true change capability. Contact a Prosci Account Manager at +1-970-203-9332 or to discuss your change management needs and how Prosci's research-based, holistic, easy-to-use solutions can work for you.


  • Change management certification ($2800) - attend Prosci's 3-day certification program where you bring your own current change project to the session and learn to use Prosci's tools through practical application - taught by former fortune 500 executives at locations across the US - includes over $1000 in products, including the Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report, the Change Management Toolkit and the Change Management Pilot Pro 2012
  • Train-the-trainer ($3500) - learn how to teach Prosci change management training programs in your organization
  • Onsite training - bring Prosci to your location for 3-day certification programs, 4-6 hour executive briefings, 1-day manager programs or 1-day employee programs - call +1-970-203-9332 for more information

Methodology tools:

  • Change Management Toolkit ($389) - hardcopy 3-ring binder presenting the Prosci Change Management Methodology, includes templates, checklists and assessments for managing the people side of change (includes USB)
  • Change Management Pilot Pro 2012 ($489) - online tool including the Prosci Change Management Methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments, presentations and checklists
  • Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors ($209) - tools to help supervisors engage and coach their direct reports through change
  • PCT Analyzer ($149/$349) - web-based tool for collecting PCT Assessment data, analyzing results, identifying risks and developing action steps

References and books:

  • Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report ($289 / quantity discounts available) - 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: the people side of change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - a primer for anyone involved in organizational change that addresses why manage change, individual change management and organizational change management
  • ADKAR: a model for change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - the definitive work on the Prosci ADKAR® Model
  • Employee's Survival Guide to Change ($14.95 / quantity discounts available) - 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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