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How will organizations embrace change management this year? And next year? And the year after that? And how will the change management discipline respond? When we asked 1,778 change practitioners to tell us what they expect to happen from now until 2020, they identified the following trends.

1. Greater Awareness and Support

Since 2007, the top trend has been greater understanding of the value of change management. As change management continues to deliver the people-dependent results on projects and initiatives, it is earning broader acceptance and credibility as a discipline. Beyond simply understanding the value of change management, organizations are coming to recognize the need for change management as a core competency. 

Study participants reported an increase in senior leadership support, noting that executives now have a greater understanding of their role in change and a strong desire to be active and visible sponsors. With this senior level support, project managers and initiative leaders are able to implement change initiatives more effectively and the benefits are speaking for themselves. 

2. Broader and More Frequent Application

Across the organization, participants observed:

  • Larger numbers of employees engaged in change management
  • Focus on building change management capability across all levels of the organization
  • Use of change management on informal changes
  • Change management as a requirement instead of an option

Also of great significance, 75% of our 2018 research report participants reported the integration of change management with project management. This integration contributed to more projects meeting or exceeding objectives (see below). Project managers are recognizing the critical role change management plays in project success, and the two disciplines are working in tandem. To support this increase in change management application, many organizations are choosing to use formal change management methodologies that provide structure and consistency, allowing for easy adoption. This approach provides a common language and toolset, making application of change management accessible and achievable to each level of the organization and to each individual.

Participants Who Integrated Change Management and Project Management

Change Management and Project Management Integration impact on project objectives graph

3. Increase in Change Management Maturity

With the increase in change management application and growing support for the discipline, organizations are finding it necessary to hire ever increasing numbers of change management professionals. The Best Practices in Change Management – 2018 Edition reports a 6% increase in the number of permanent change management jobs since 2011. Participants expect this number to continue to grow over the coming years.

More than just the creation of permanent positions, this 6% increase also refers to the development of a Change Management Office or other dedicated functional group, solely focused on change management work. Presently, many change managers perform change management as a portion of their job only. To see positions emerging devoted entirely to change management is a huge step forward for the discipline.

4. Honorable Mention: Greater Need for Education and Training

One of the results that came from the 2016 report: More than ever there is an increased need for informed and experienced change management practitioners. The Best Practices in Change Management – 2016 Edition reveals an increase in education and training. Participants expect this desire for knowledge to continue, with the following trainings identified as particularly sought-after:

  • Designated training sessions for change leaders

  • Formal change management training events

  • Training for broader audiences

  • Integration of change management training into existing learning and development programs

What This Means for You

There are exciting times ahead for the change management discipline and its professionals! Practitioners can expect the discipline to evolve and to thrive. With increased application of change management, more widespread adoption of its proven methodology and continued growing interest in education and training, change management is set to transform the business world, so be ready! These are our trusted participant predictions for the change management discipline in 2020. Now we’d like to ask you: where you do see the change management discipline going?


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.