Over the past 15 years, the use of structured methodologies for managing the people side of change has increased dramatically. Below are the most frequently asked questions we receive about change management methodologies, including the Prosci methodology.

What is the value of using a methodology to manage change?

A methodology for change management provides structure and intent for managing the people side of change. Change in organization is a reality, as is the fact that these changes ultimately impact how individual employees do their jobs. Given that the success of an organizational effort is tied inextricably to individuals adopting the change, change management provides tools and processes for encouraging and enabling those individual changes. The advantages of using a structured methodology include:

  • Provide structure and rigor for the people side of change
  • Enable repeatability
  • Address all of the key components
  • Avoid missing important steps
  • Draw on the lessons learned by others

An important point here: a methodology for change management does not define or prescribe particular changes. Change management does not tell you what changes your organization needs to make. Change management is an overlay; it is applied to changes that are already decided upon to encourage employees to adopt and utilize those changes.

Can I manage the people side of change without a methodology? What are the risks?

Certainly, one could introduce a change without using a methodology or addressing the people side of change. Most projects, whether they are using change management or not, will have some elements of a communication plan and a training plan. The problem is: these communication plans tend to be "telling plans" full of project updates and details, instead of what employees really want to know - namely, why the change is happening and "what's in it for me" (WIIFM). Likewise, training plans in the absence of a change management framework typically do not have the necessary context and foundation to be effective - namely a compelling case for why the change is happening and why someone should be engaged. Have you ever been sent to training without understanding why it was important to be there? It feels like a waste of time and can actually demotivate you.

The risks of trying to manage change without a structured approach include:

  • Not providing the necessary context for your activities
  • Not focusing your actions based on where employees are in the change process
  • Missing key steps or activities
  • Attempting to manage the change without all of the right "actors" being involved (namely, senior leaders as sponsors of change and managers and supervisors coaching their direct reports through the change)
  • Wasting time and energy by "reinventing the wheel"

Some very experienced and expert practitioners may be able to address a change initiative without a structured methodology in place, but the majority of practitioners benefit from having a structured process and set of tools to guide activities. Even experienced practitioners can benefit by having guidelines in place.

Does following a methodology make change management just "boxes to check off" of a plan?

Absolutely not. The foundation of a solid change management methodology is that individuals are the ones who adopt a change. Change is organic and fluid - and it is a very personal experience. However, we can model it and take actions to encourage and support it. Just because we are applying a methodology - following a process and utilizing tools and templates - that does not mean we are removing people from the equation. Instead, we are drawing upon research and the experience of others to put ourselves in the best position to succeed.

Is designing the solution part of a change management methodology?

From our perspective, defining the solution is not part of the change management methodology. Change management, like project management, is a discipline and set of tools applied to a particular change. This means that recognizing a need for change and developing a solution take place in a parallel but different work stream. Prosci's taxonomy for scoping change management shows the distinct work streams that support successful change and transformation in an organization (read more about the taxonomy).

What are other practitioners looking for when selecting a methodology?

Study participants in Prosci's change management benchmarking studies have identified the key factors for selecting the methodology they used on their project. The top factors identified by participants included:

1. Easy to use - Overwhelmingly, the top factor for selecting a particular methodology was ease of use. Participants noted:

  • Easy to implement
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy to communicate to others
  • Simple
  • Practical
  • Structured and systematic
  • Logical
  • Comprehensive and holistic

2. Previous experience with a methodology - Many participants cited their own personal experience with a particular methodology as a key factor in selection.

3. Proven to be effective - The methodology chosen was proven and effective, or had been successful when it was applied within the organization previously.

4. Matched the need - The particular methodology met the needs of the change that was being introduced and was applicable to that situation.

5. Flexibility and customization - The methodology could be applied to many different types of change and in many different parts of the organization. It was flexible and could be customized to meet the needs of different change programs.

Practitioners are looking for methodologies that are easy to use, above and beyond any other factor. Managing the people side of change is challenging. Although sometimes called the "soft" side of change, in reality, getting employees to adopt a new process or technology, for example, is usually the "harder" side of change. The technical side of change can be complex, but changing employee behaviors is the bigger challenge. This is why practitioners are looking for simple, actionable approaches that deliver results - a methodology that makes sense and can be scaled to meet the particular change at hand without overly complicating the issue.

What is meant by individual change management and organizational change management?

Prosci's change management methodology is founded on the principle that effective change management requires two perspectives - an individual perspective and an organizational perspective. It is the marriage of individual change management and organizational change management that provides an outcome-orientation with the supporting tools and processes to make a change successful.

Individual change management is an understanding of and model for how one person successfully makes a change. Prosci's ADKAR Model describes the five building blocks of successful change as: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement®. Since this results-oriented model outlines the building blocks of successful change, it is also used to guide change management plans, measure progress and diagnose gaps. Individual change management answers the question: "what are we trying to achieve by applying change management?"

Organizational change management, on the other hand, answers the question: "What am I going to do to support individuals through change?" Organizational change management is applied by change management practitioners, project leaders and project team members - with the employee facing actions executed by senior leaders, managers and supervisors throughout the impacted organization. Prosci's organizational change management methodology contains three phases for practitioners to work through:

  • Phase 1 - Preparing for Change
  • Phase 2 - Managing Change
  • Phase 3 - Reinforcing Change™

Each phase includes activities and tools to support change management application by practitioners. By following the organizational change management process, you create a strategy and full set of plans to move the employees impacted by a change through their own change journey.

For a deeper discussion of Prosci's Methodology, visit our Thought Leadership Library. There you will find in-depth articles about our methodology, the ADKAR Model, integrating change management and project management, and roles in change management.


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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.