Over the last few decades, the discipline of change management has emerged and evolved. What was once an ad hoc approach consisting of perhaps a communication plan and training plan has grown into a discipline driven by structure, rigor, process and deliverables.

Leading organizations are now beginning to make the shift from applying change management in a project-by-project fashion toward institutionalizing and embedding change management to build a true organizational capability. Prosci calls this effort Enterprise Change Management (ECM).

A major challenge change management practice leaders face is getting a clear and concrete vision of what they are trying to achieve through ECM. One exercise to help define this is called "standing in the future" - an exercise about envisioning what we would observe when an organization has built a change management capability.

Below is a list of the eleven most common attributes of organizational capability as identified by attendees of Prosci's Enterprise Change Management Boot Camp - a one-day workshop on building organizational capability. Use this list to help envision what you would observe when your organization builds a change management capability.

Use the statements below to "stand in the future," envisioning what a change capability would look like at your organization:

1. We Meet and exceed expectations in change

For change initiatives happening in our organization, we routinely meet project ROI targets. We also routinely meet our stakeholder expectations, our customer expectations and our shareholder expectations.

2. We Handle the change in our organization

We know that organizations are increasingly facing change saturation. However, by implementing Enterprise Change Management, we as an organization have the increased capacity to handle change and reduce change disruption.

3. We Expect change and engage in it

Instead of an attitude of fear, the teams in our organization expect change, get excited about change, and engage in it. This change agility and appetite for change permeates the organization and all employees.

4. We See Change as part of our job

Employees throughout our organization have internalized their role in leading change. They see "leading change" as part of their job and have the skills to excel in their role as change leaders. In addition, metrics are in place to measure how well every employee is fulfilling their role.

5. We share a common language for change

Employees throughout the organization have developed a shared change vocabulary. This vocabulary permeates the company culture at all levels.

6. We have a standard change management methodology

We as an organization have adopted and deployed a common change management approach, including a full set of tools to support its common and consistent application. Whichever approach we have chosen is used on all projects.

7. We budget appropriately for change management

On each project, we have dedicated change management resources and a dedicated change management budget that matches the change management needed.

8. We include change management at the start of every project

We include user impact in every project definition, and we evaluate the people side risks of the project. We are also careful to include change management activities in the project initiation process.

9. We integrate change management, project management and improvement processes

We embed change management activities into our project management methodology. And we have change management present in our improvement systems, including Continuous Process Improvement, Strategic Planning and Lean Six Sigma.

10. We create an organizational footprint for change management

At the individual level, our organizational footprint for change management includes job roles and career paths. At the organizational level, our footprint could include a change management office, a community of practice, a center of excellence or change agent networks.

11. We measure the impact of change management

We establish metrics for adoption and usage upfront, and we measure these metrics during and after a project goes live. We focus on demonstrating the return on investment of managing the people side of change

What This Means for You

As the pace, amount and importance of change continues to increase, building an organizational change management capability will be one of the most important core competencies for organizations in the future. However, building change agility takes more than "want to"—it requires a structured and intentional approach. These eleven elements—and the exercise of defining the future state—are critical to the successful journey of becoming more agile as an organization. 

Download the eBook, "6 Tatics for Growing Enterprise Change Capability."

Written by
Tim Creasey
Tim Creasey

Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.