Research and sausage. 

Yes you read that correctly! How is sausage made and what is the process? Growing up my dad would often say, “You never want to know how sausage is made,” (while cooking sausage for dinner). The sausage may have it’s secrets, and since we are so fond of our processed meat, we might be best to skip the details. But Prosci’s research is a very different matter!

Understanding why and how Prosci conducts its best practice and benchmark research benefits us, giving us unique insights into the findings and data points created by the research.

Why we conduct change management research

Prosci has always been a research company. From its inception, Prosci has sought to first understand what makes changes successful or unsuccessful, and then to build the tools and methodologies so that others may leverage the most current best practices more easily.

To us, research is the foundation upon which all of our offerings and tools are built. When our research explores new findings or identifies changes in key trends, our offerings and even our methodologies are evolved to reflect these new insights. This process is almost as intensive as producing the research itself. Almost. 

How we conduct our research

Our research process begins by identifying the topic areas we want to explore. We revisit previously studied areas for one of two reasons; either to update the data (the data may have changed) or because they are key areas that track longitudinal data. We also periodically identify new topic areas that will add vital knowledge to the change management discipline. For example, the Best Practices in Change Management - 2016 Edition is the first publication to explore change management adaptations based on culture, and customization of change management by vertical industry.

Once our topics are selected, a team of researchers create and refine a set of questions. We then solicit responses to these questions from a wide variety of change management professionals. In our biannual surveys, we seek to have a blend of roles contribute to the research, including practitioners, consultants, sponsors, project managers and organizations applying a variety of different change management methodologies to different types of projects.

Once data is submitted, Prosci’s team of analysts begins the intensive process of analyzing data from hundreds of respondents (for the 2016 report, this included 400,000 data points from 1,120 participants!). We use a combination of statistical methods to draw findings from quantitative data and thematic analysis to identify themes from open qualitative data. Analysts then write concise and robust synopses of their findings, which are compiled into the current Best Practices in Change Management report.

Longitudinal research: What it is, and why it matters

There are some questions we have asked from the very first study in 1998, and others we’ve asked several times over the past decade. Having this longitudinal data serves several purposes. We can:

  • Identify trends, fluctuations and evolution in key areas, helping us to understand our field and its growth
  • Verify important research over time, removing the possibility that a certain finding was the result of the current economic climate or other external force. For example, since 1998, we have asked, “What is the top contributor to success when doing change management?” Consistently, the number one answer has been active and visible sponsorship. Consider what has happened in technology and our global economy since 1998. To have an answer remain consistent over this time period is profound and proves its importance to our work 
  • Identify and act on future trends within the field of change management, using this data to ensure our methodology and tools are always proactively adapted to meet the future demands of our growing discipline 


The history of change management

Going deeper

We constantly strive to understand our discipline better and build tools and models that reflect this understanding. We do not manipulate research to support our currents models; instead, we allow ourselves to be changed by the research. When you interact with a Prosci tool or work through our methodology, you are connecting to the most current best practices in the field of change management.

In life there are some processes I do not wish to know in detail (namely how a sausage is made). But understanding the Prosci research method not only gives me a greater appreciation for Prosci’s offerings, but also helps me to understand Prosci’s course, a course that will change and adapt with the best practices of the time. Change is inevitable, and not only does Prosci strive to understand and embrace change, Prosci is dedicated to sharing its knowledge and insights so that others will benefit.  


Best Practices in Change Management - 2018 Edition Executive Summary

Written by
Robert Stise
Robert Stise

Robert uses his extensive educational background in social science research and writing to continually expand and deepen the body of knowledge dedicated to change management. In his role as Prosci Research Product Family Manager, Robert works to plan, run and produce meaningful advances in the field of change management.