As Prosci works with numerous clients tackling change management challenges, we spend time trying to understand:

  • What they are trying to achieve?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What challenges are they facing?

Increasingly, clients are asking questions on how to spread change management throughout their organization. There is a growing recognition of the value of getting the entire organization to improve how it manages change.

Prosci has done considerable research and development on what we are calling Enterprise Change Management - or the building of an organizational change competency. Ultimately, organizations must begin setting themselves apart with their flexibility and durability - and taking on Enterprise Change Management is a critical step.

This tutorial presents several common concerns we hear from change implementers and practitioners. For each of the statements below, we will look at the potential consequences of addressing change management in an ad hoc manner. We will conclude the tutorial with Prosci's definition of and perspective on Enterprise Change Management.

What are the issues they are facing

"We've had too many different approaches in too many different places for too long"

In some organizations, enlightened project leaders have begun to adopt change management on the projects that they support. The problem occurs when there are numerous leaders utilizing a wide variety of approaches and tools. Some projects may not have any change management. Others may build only a communications plan. Still others might focus heavily on training but neglect the whole set of tools available to manage change.

This lack of consistent approach does not deliver the benefits that come from an organization-wide approach. There is also a danger of collision of multiple approaches, where a single leader or manager is hearing mixed messages from the different change management approaches being utilized.

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"We need a common language"

Without a common language, it is hard to have meaningful conversations about change management. Sometimes, there is even confusion over what "change management" actually means. Even if different groups are applying change management, there is often confusion when there is no common language. What one group calls stakeholder management another might call the sponsor coalition. It is hard to problem solve and capitalize on lessons learned when different terminology is being used.

"We can't afford for our important upcoming changes to fail our past projects"

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the quote: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." This statement holds true when thinking about change management. Many organizations have projects that failed because they neglected the people side of change. Observant leaders and project teams are beginning to recognize that it is the people side, not the technical side, that often derails a project. The "sane" step that many are taking is to bring change management into new projects, especially those with significant impact on the future of the organization.

How are they overcoming these issues

Below are several tactics we have seen for bringing change management to an organization:

  • Adopting a common change management methodology for the organization - This is a critical step in building change management competency. A standard, single approach lays the foundation for a common vocabulary, more consistent application and resource sharing. Lessons learned and continuous improvement of change management can now take place within a controlled organizational methodology. Selection of a common methodology also sends a message to the organization about the importance of change management and the organization's commitment to improving how it manages the people side of change.
  • Forming a Change Management Office - The creation of a formal structure in the organization that oversees change management is another step toward building the competency to manage change. We have seen this formal change management group housed in the HR department, within the Project Management Office (PMO), under a director of strategy or transformation or even inside a particular department that launches many changes like IT. A formal group can support multiple projects and maintain the methodology, tools and training that are utilized by the rest of the organization.
  • Requiring change management plans on all new initiatives - Typically by executive decree, this approach requires that change management be applied to every major change initiative in the organization prior to receiving business case approval. We have also seen organizations set an investment threshold (i.e. any project over $500,000 needs a change management plan). Another approach we've seen involves creating a change management risk analysis completed at the beginning of a project, with change management plans required for any project that has a high "people risk" factor.
  • Selecting key projects and training the project team - This approach implements change management within the highest profile projects. The selection of key projects is tied to the fact that these key projects are critical to the organization's success and they are the ones that cannot afford the consequences of slower adoption, under utilization or poor results. In some cases, this is an intermediary step toward requiring change management on all projects.
  • Institutionalize change management into the training curriculum - We have seen a number of organizations thinking about "managing change" as an individual competency that is necessary in employees throughout the organization and not just at the project level. In these organizations, training programs are established for project team members, executives, middle managers and supervisors. This approach lacks a direct connection to any one project but utilizes educational programs to build knowledge about change management in the organization.

Each of the above tactics have their merits. However, to truly deploy change management in an organization someone must begin thinking about the deployment as a project that must be managed. Managing the project involves both a "technical" side - defining the desired future state and the set of tactics the organization can employ to reach that future state - and a "people" side - building support and buy in for applying change management.

Below is Prosci's ECM Deployment Strategy Map that is covered in the ECM Summit. The five elements of the Strategy Map are based on research Prosci has completed on deploying change management. The right approach is customized for your organization and the particular circumstances you face, but in planning the project of deploying change management each area must be addressed.



Enterprise Change Management Boot Camp


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.