In the coming years, no other competency will be more important to your organization than the ability to manage change effectively. But building the competency to manage change—or enterprise change management—is not like installing a new system or technology. It is a transformation in how the organization operates and leads people. It requires individuals to learn new skills and take on new roles. And it requires a new approach to project changes and initiatives.
An organization is successful at building change competency when change management is applied on each and every project, individuals at all levels of the organization have developed the competency to manage change, and change readiness becomes a competitive differentiator. Change management will also be evident in the organization's processes and structure, and visible in the actions and behaviors of executives, senior leaders, people managers, project teams and front-line employees.
Regardless of the change management approach you choose, effectively deploying enterprise change management requires sponsorship, structure and strategy.
Enterprise change management (ECM) requires sponsorship at the highest levels of an organization.
In all of Prosci's Best Practices in Change Management studies over the past two decades, active and visible sponsorship has been identified as the number one contributor to success. Building the competency to manage change requires the same leadership commitment in terms of strategy, resources and actions.
One of the most important lessons learned about deploying ECM is that it must be managed as both a project and a change. From the technical-side perspective, the project needs a team, a plan, resources, time frames, and effective project management. From the people-side perspective, the human side must be managed to support and equip people throughout the organization to engage, adopt and use change management principles, processes and tools. For many, "applying change management" is a significant change to how they operate.
Prosci's Unified Value Proposition
Every organization is unique, which means the "right" deployment strategy will be too. Prosci research and client observations show that effective approaches should meet your organization's unique needs while balancing additional key tactics.
Prosci's research on building change management competency within an organization offers insights and a roadmap for three common deployment approaches: project-centric, skill-centric and holistic.
A project-centric approach is often taken when the effort's originator wears more of a "project hat" in the organization, e.g., an experienced project manager, member of the PMO, or leader overseeing several projects in their department. This person tends to have influence over projects and can drive change management into projects first in the organization.
The focus of this approach is to apply change management to a handful of specific projects. This typically involves sequencing and planning to identify the first, most appropriate projects. One way to do that is to begin with a single, major initiative that is highly visible. Another is to attach change management to several projects in one functional area, such as IT, HR or the call center, or to projects within a geographic region.
A skill-centric approach is often used when the effort's originator has a human resources or training background. In fact, these efforts often originate in HR and focus on developing the leadership competency to manage change. Skill is typically the focus because the originator (e.g., the director of training) has influence and control in the training part of the organization.
The focus of the skill-centric approach is on building skills and competencies to manage change in the organization. While projects may be marginally addressed, the initial focus is training. This approach leverages the fact that senior leaders, people managers, and project team members have specific roles and responsibilities, and training is an effective tool for building skills associated with these roles.
The project-centric and skill-centric approaches to building change management competency in an organization each have their own merits and potential risks. However, Prosci's research and experience shows that a holistic approach that addresses both areas along with the elements of process and structure will be highly effective when you have sponsorship from the highest level of your organization.
In Prosci's ECM Boot Camp, attendees learn how to begin the process of building change competency and identify their organization's current state. We apply a five-wedge model called the ECM Strategy Map, which identifies five areas where tactics should be developed to improve how the organization manages change. All five areas are important, but the balance will differ for every organization.
Although building enterprise change management competency is a unique journey for every organization, here's what a successful future state looks like in each area of the ECM Strategy Map:
Building ECM competency requires sponsorship, structure and strategy. Although a project-centric approach or skill-centric approach can make sense for certain organizations, a holistic approach will yield the best outcomes when you have the leadership support you need. A holistic approach combines the pros of both skill-centric and project-centric approaches while minimizing the risks by applying more structure and process.
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.
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