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Change management methodology overview

In the past, change management carried with it the connotation of being just the soft, touchy-feely things that people in HR do. However, over the last decade change management has emerged as a structured discipline that business leaders are seeing as a 'must have' and not just a 'nice to have' when major project or initiatives are launched. In this week's tutorial, we look at research findings related to change management methodologies and provide a short explanation of Prosci's research-based approach for managing the people side of change.

Download a PDF of the Change management methodology overview tutorial


Benchmarking results on methodology

Finding #1: A structured approach contributes to project success. 

  • In all of Prosci's five benchmarking studies, we asked participants about the greatest contributors to overall success for their programs. In each of the last two studies, the use of a structured approach to change management was cited as the #2 contributor to success (behind only active and visible executive sponsorship). A structured approach to change management moves organizations away from merely reacting to resistance to change and provides a solid framework for engaging and mobilizing impacted employees.

Finding #2: Nearly 60% of study participants utilized a structured approach

  • Participants also indicated whether or not they used a structured approach to change management. The data in the 2007 study showed a continued growth in those participants following a particular change management methodology. After a significant jump between 2003 and 2005, the increase was smaller but still significant. Nearly 6 in 10 projects are utilizing a structured change management methodology.
Best Practices study

Percentage of participants that followed a particular change management methodology

 2003 34%
 2005 55%
 2007 58%

Three easy ways to begin applying Prosci's change management methodology:

  • Do it yourself, online option - Prosci's Change Management Pilot is an online tool that has step-by-step instructions for applying the methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments and presentations you can use immediately.

  • Do it yourself, hardcopy - Prosci's Change Management Toolkit presents the entire methodology and guiding principles in a 3-ring binder with a USB drivecontaining templates and assessments.

  • Certification program - In Prosci's 3-day certification program, learn the underlying concepts and principles and then apply the methodology and tools to a project you bring with support from one of Prosci's experienced executive instructors.


Finding #3: Top selection criteria is ease of use

Participants cited a number of factors they used when selecting a change management methodology. Overwhelmingly, the #1 selection criteria was the ease of use of the methodology. When change management is overly complex, it fails to gain traction in the organization and is seen more as a hassle than as a tool that delivers value to the organization and the project. However, methodologies that are easy to use and easy to explain to others can gain serious traction and become a vital component of the project activities. Factors for ease of use included:

  • Easy to implement
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy to communicate to others
  • Simple
  • Practical
  • Structured and systematic
  • Logical
  • Comprehensive and holistic

Finding #4: When to start change management activities

Participants shared data on when they started their change management activities and when they would start their activities on the next project. The data shows an overwhelming bias toward initiating change management early in the project. Change management activities that are launched at the beginning of a project can be more proactive in addressing the people side of change. When change management is brought in as an add-on late in the project, it is typically to 'fight fires' and help with damage control.

When did change management activities begin?



Prosci's change management methodology

Prosci's change management methodology is developed based on research with over 1600 participants over the last ten years. What is unique about the methodology is that it comes from real project leaders and teams reflecting on what worked, what did not and what they would do differently on their next projects. At its core, Prosci's methodology is the collective lessons learned by those introducing change across the globe. Based on this research, Prosci's goal has been to develop a methodology that is holistic and at the same time easy to use. The resulting process, tools and assessments have been developed with one goal in mind: that you can put them to use on your projects, building your (and your organization's) own internal change management skill set. Below is a high-level overview of Prosci's methodology.


Point #1: Change management requires both an individual and an organizational perspective

Individual change management Organizational change management
Understanding how one person
makes a change successfully
Understanding what tools we have to help
individuals make changes successfully
Organizations don't change, individuals do. No matter how large of a project you are taking on, the success of that project ultimately lies with each employee doing their work differently, multiplied across all of the employees impacted by the change. Effective change management requires an understanding for and appreciation of how one person makes a change successfully. Without an individual perspective, we are left with activities but no idea of the goal or outcome that we are trying to achieve. While change happens one person at a time, there are processes and tools that can be used to facilitate this change. Tools like communication and training are often the only activities when no structured approach is applied. When there is an organizational change management perspective, a process emerges for how to scale change management activities and how to use the complete set of tools available for project leaders and business managers.


Point #2: ADKAR presents an easy-to-use model for individual change

The first step in managing any type of organizational change is understanding how to manage change with a single individual. Prosci's model of individual change is called ADKAR - an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. In essence, to make a change successfully an individual needs:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate and support the change
  • Knowledge on how to change
  • Ability to implement required skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change

ADKAR describes successful change at the individual level. When an organization undertakes an initiative, that change only happens when the employees who have to do their jobs differently can say with confidence, "I have the Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement to make this change happen."

Because it outlines the goals or outcomes of successful change, ADKAR is an effective tool for:

  • Planning change management activities
  • Diagnosing gaps
  • Developing corrective actions
  • Supporting managers and supervisors


Point #3: The 3-phase process gives structure to the steps project teams should take

Prosci's organizational change management process was first introduced in 2002 after the third change management benchmarking study was conducted. Prosci felt that with the third study, there was a strong enough research basis for the process below. This process is built in steps that a project team can complete for a particular change or initiative they are supporting. The methodology includes research-based assessments and templates that are available in the online Change Management Pilot or hardcopy Change Management Toolkit.

Phase 1 - Preparing for change

The first phase in Prosci's methodology is aimed at getting ready. It answers the question: "how much change management is needed for this specific project?" The first phase provides the situational awareness that is critical for effective change management.

Outputs of Phase 1:

  • Change characteristics profile
  • Organizational attributes profile
  • Change management strategy
  • Change management team structure
  • Sponsor assessment, structure and roles

Phase 2 - Managing change

The second phase of Prosci's process is focused on creating the plans that are integrated into the project activities - what people typically think of when they talk about change management. Based on Prosci's research, there are five plans that should be created to help individuals move through the ADKAR Model.

Outputs of Phase 2:

  • Communication plan
  • Sponsor roadmap
  • Training plan
  • Coaching plan
  • Resistance management plan

Phase 3 - Reinforcing change

Equally critical but most often overlooked, the third phase of Prosci's process helps project teams create specific action plans for ensuring that the change is sustained. In this phase, project teams develop measures and mechanisms to see if the change has taken hold, to the see if employees are actually doing their jobs the new way and to celebrate success.

Outputs of Phase 3:

  • Reinforcement mechanisms
  • Compliance audit reports
  • Corrective action plans
  • Individual and group recognition approaches
  • Success celebrations
  • After action review




The linkage between individual change management and organizational change management is the key - and is what sets Prosci's approach apart from other change management methodologies. There are numerous models available that address individual change. There are also numerous models available that give guidance and structure to project activities for change management resources. The difference with Prosci's methodology is that it integrates individual change management and organizational change management to ensure the achievement of business results.

The image below shows the connection between the change management tools developed in the organizational change management process and the phases of individual change described by the ADKAR model. This picture is the essence of effective change management and is the core of Prosci's change management methodology.

Connecting organizational and individual change management


If you are interested in applying the methodology:

  • Online methodology tool: The Change Management Pilot is Prosci's web-based methodology tool. It includes step-by-step instructions and "four click access" to the entire methodology. In addition, the Change Management Pilot contains downloadable presentations, templates and assessments to help apply the methodology to your project.
  • Hardcopy methodology tool: The Change Management Toolkit is a 3-ring binder with USB drivethat guides you through the change management methodology and how to apply it to a project. The toolkit starts with the theories and principles and then moves step-by-step through the process. The USB drivecontains all of the templates and assessments built into the methodology.
  • Certification program: Prosci's change management certification program teaches you how to apply both individual change management and organizational change management to your projects. In the 3-day certification program, you apply the tools, templates and process to a project that you are currently working on. You leave with a 15 minute executive presentation and the start of your change management plans. You can also earn 2.4 CEUs, 24 PDUs from the Project Management Institute (PMI) and 24 recertification hours from the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). The certification program is offered twice a month at venues across the United States. Download the training brochure to find out more about this exciting program.


Download a PDF of the Change management methodology overview tutorial
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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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