Ask 100 people to define Change Management, and you'll get 100 different definitions. At the end of the day, the definition is just semantics. What really matters is whether you can implement a Change Management program in a practical way that allows you to support your organization in successfully achieving its goals. Whether you're a Change Manager, a consultant, or the tech. guy who was told to "figure out some Change Management stuff," this blog will help address common issues and topics you're likely to run into along the way.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Solid Methods, Solid Benefits: Solid Tips

Reminder: The numbers quoted in this post come from IBM's 2008 Global Making Change Work study.

Now that you're all fired up to gain insight into the changes a project will bring to your organization, IBM's study lays out recommendation number two for implementing a successful project: "Solid Methods, Solid Benefits."  According to the study,
Practitioners who always follow specific and formal change management procedures had a 52 percent project success rate, compared to a 36 percent success rate for practitioners who improvise according to the situation.
That's a 16 percent difference in success rates.

How is the average person supposed to put this advice into practice?  Unless you're a Change Manager, or work for a large organization that has a Change Management department you can tap into, the chances that you just happen to have a solid Change Management methodology on hand is pretty slim.

Don't let this stop you from realizing the full potential for "Solid Benefits."

Practical Tips
If You're Hiring Outside Help:
Many projects will bring in outside consultants to help with implementation.  If your company is doing this, here are some questions I recommend asking about their Change Management methodology during the sales process.
  1. Q: Have you included Change Management in your proposal?  A: If the answer is, "No," that's a very bad sign.  Ask them why not, and follow-up by finding out what it would cost to add to the proposal.  If the answer is, "Yes," continue on to the next question.
  2. Q: Do you have a Change Management methodology that all of your practitioners follow?  A: If the answer is, "No," I recommend looking at another firm.  If the answer is, "Yes," ask question 3.
  3. Q: Do your Project Managers support Change Management and its integration into the project?  Do they understand the Change Management methodology?  A:  I've been on more than one project where a Project Manager said to me, "I don't really understand what you Change people do, and I'm really busy, so I won't be able to provide any support to the work you're doing."  That is never a good sign.  If the Project Manager doesn't understand and support the Change Management methodology, there's a good chance that many of the vital Change activities will be under-resourced or cut from the project entirely.
  4. Q: Can your methodology be adjusted to fit our particular culture, project, resources, and needs?  A: Although the IBM study stresses that benefits are achieved as a result of consistently following a structured methodology, it is also important that a methodology has flexibility built into its design.  Not every activity in a methodology is relevant to every project.  To make sure you get the most bang for your buck, work with the consultants to figure out which aspects of the methodology will provide the most value.  This is especially essential if you have a limited budget.
If You're Doing It Yourself
Sometimes hiring consultants just isn't an option.  Sometimes you're the technology guy who is told to "figure out some Change stuff."  Sometimes an organization that has always flown by the seat of its pants suddenly realizes the benefit of having a Change Management methodology and wants you to set one up.  Now what?
  1. Read the Experts: If you only have time to read one book, I'd recommend something by John Kotter.  He has a number of books available, but Leading Change is probably his best known.  If you have time for two books, check out Managing at the Speed of Change, by Daryl Conner.  And if you have lots of time, the "Harvard Business Review" has published a number of interesting, thought-provoking articles on Change Management over the years.
  2. Online Resources: For overall Change Management information, check out Prosci's Change Management Learning Center.  For in-depth information about training, go to the American Society for Training and Development.
  3. Take Some Training: Training options, either in the classroom or on-line, abound.  Since they're always changing and I can't attend them all, I won't recommend any here.  Ask around for recommendations of courses people have attended.
  4. Buy It: I know that a few years ago, one of the major consulting firms would sell its methodology to companies for a price.  I have also heard of Change gurus who will come to your organization and put in place a personalized Change Management methodology.  If you have the money, this can be a fast way to put a methodology in place.
You've reaped rewards.  You've garnered benefits.  Up next: "Better Skills, Better Change."


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