What is Change Management?

yes-noMuch has been written and discussed on the subject of change management in the last 20 years.  Change management has developed into a discipline separate in many ways from its organization development roots.   A consequence is that change management is often formulated and executed as a distinctly separate activity.  It is important here to understand that change management should not and will not be considered a parallel or collateral activity to a change project.  There should not be “the project plan” for whatever change is being made and the “change management plan” that sits beside it.  They should be one and the same – inextricably connected so that organizational changes of any type and scale always have a fully integrated approach from beginning to end.

But what is change management, and what exactly does it entail? Change management is the planned, deliberate process to prepare and engage people in making and sustaining organizational change. Change management comprises a continuum of actions, decisions, and behaviors that extend from leading the change effort from a project perspective to managing people through change from a psychological and emotional perspective.

While there are a number of attributes of effective change found throughout the content of the site, there are some things that effective change management is not.

  • Top down and imposed
  • Exclusive participation of the few on behalf of the many
  • Disingenuous engagement that asks people to contribute meaninglessly
  • Delegated leadership
  • Weak preparation and foundation work
  • Poor or at best emergent planning
  • Focus on project management to the exclusion of people management
  • A separate, parallel workstream with its own rationale, activities, and objectives
  • Lots and lots of push communication and little else

So what is change management? It’s the implementation of a change plan utilizing various tools, resources, and frameworks that involves potentially every individual within a given organization. Only when everyone understands the benefits of change can an organization expect their changes to be sustained or stable over long periods of time.