The Prosci Project Change Triangle (PCT) is a model for successful executing and implementing projects. It was developed out of a number of client engagements and training experiences, where we found that there lacked a framework showing how different components of successful projects interact to create a sustainable and successful business initiative. This tutorial looks at the leadership component in making projects successful.

Leadership role in making change successful

The model pictured below builds on the Prosci Project Change Triangle (PCT) framework for successful projects. The original Prosci Project Change Triangle (PCT) (the triangle in the center) presents three elements crucial to a project or initiative meeting its objectives and ROI targets: leadership/sponsorship, project management and change management. This tutorial expands on the model by illustrating the interaction between leadership and the other two elements of successful projects.

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Project success is shown as a triangle because there are specific links between leadership and project management and between leadership and change management (and ultimately between project management and change management). The expanded Prosci Project Change Triangle (PCT) above shows that:

  • the connection between leadership and project management is related to decisions that are made by leaders
  • the connection between leadership and change management is tied to the actions of the senior leader
Leaders play a key role in supporting both of the other two legs of the Prosci Change Triangle - project management and change management.

This tutorial is a valuable tool you have to help get your change sponsors on board and supportive of the role they play in managing change. To make this easier, read and reference the article, "Executive Sponsor's Importance and Role" which illustrates the role of senior leaders in making change successful. Use this content and your understanding of the Prosci Project Change Triangle (PCT) to get your senior leaders on board with their role in supporting the project management and change management elements of the Prosci Project Change Triangle (PCT).

At the onset of a new project, the executive sponsor should ask:

  • What is our project management readiness?
  • What is our change management readiness?
  • Am I ready to sponsor this change? (see Prosci's Sponsor Competency Assessment***)

These steps are important to ensure that the project has the three elements of the Prosci Project Change Triangle (PCT) in place before getting started. Review the definitions of each of the elements and use this assessment to determine if a project has the necessary pieces in place to be successful.

Key roles on the project-side of the change (project management):

  • Define the scope, resources and schedule that are needed to align with the business strategy and objectives.
  • Resolve project issues by balancing scope, resources and project dates.
  • Help set priorities between this project and competing projects or day-to-day operational commitments.

On the project side, leadership is central in defining what will be changed and how it will be changed. This is why the connection between leadership and project management is referred to as executive decisions in the Prosci Project Change Triangle (PCT). The first requirement on the project-side is to clearly define what is changing in the organization. While executives typically outline some of the dimensions like scope and schedule when they charter a project, it is equally important for them to monitor and balance the time-scope-resource tradeoff on the project.

Key roles on the people-side of the change (change management):

  • Communicate directly with employees; share why the change is happening, the risks of not changing and align the change with the overall direction of the business; repeat these messages through multiple communication channels including face-to-face interactions.
  • Build a sponsorship coalition that reinforces the awareness message at all levels; enable peers, direct reports and managers to communicate the reasons for change to their employees such that a consistent message is finding its way throughout the organization.
  • Participate actively and visibly throughout the entire change process; stay engaged with the project team; collect feedback from employees using ADKAR assessments.

Senior leaders play a central role in making change successful. In all nine of Prosci's benchmarking studies on effective change management (1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015) participants sited the role of the sponsor of change as the number one contributor to success. In most of these studies, the role of the senior leader was cited by a three-to-one margin over any other success factor. One of the biggest issues related to the executive actions on the change management side is that senior leaders don't know what good sponsorship looks like in concrete terms. It is the responsibility of the change management practitioner to educate and coach senior leaders to fulfill the roles mentioned above, with checklists and specific actions to follow.

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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.