The Changing Nature of Change Management

What is new, what is  changing and what refuses to change for the change management profession?

This is, of course, IMHO, take everything CM with a grain of salt.


Awareness down to the individual stakeholder is new.

There are a lot of things written, pushed, manipulated out there when it comes to change management. The world of CM thought is one search away. It appears a lot of people are making those searches. I have been surprised at the level of questioning that comes as a result of those search journeys. People are surprisingly astute, open to thought and willing to question when it comes to change.

Change Management thought used for operational work.

On many, if not most, projects (not always with much real change) there is a CM resource. Not only is this assumed to be an important role, but people push back when it is not. Personally I used to have to work hard to build trust, now I am received with open arms- a change management consultant on board means there actually MIGHT be some change!

Internal change practitioners.

They were always there, now they have the label. One reason is that they have vocally stepped up (CM is about people so everyone wants to try it at some point). They have created Communities of Practice, they have volunteered for extra work in order to build an internal CM resume and they have pushed senior (but usually mid level) leaders to include CM in some way. This category of new will be next years “changing” as they gain leverage and create successes.

End State and Goal Focus

There is much more talk about the future and the real reasons for change. The more that happens the more transparency needs to exist. Honesty and clarity are core components of successful change.


The original gurus have lost sway.

Change Management as a practice is finally beginning to mature. There are enough senior practitioners out there now who have been through big engagements that the original approaches can be questioned. “Why is it we focus so much on resistance?” questions tend to change the way CM is approached. Not much questioning of approach has happened in the last 10 years- that is changing.

Collaboration and virtual environments are producing results.

It could be argued this virtual thing has gotten out of hand (everyone calls in even though their offices are right next to each other). With the global nature of almost all business, virtual was inevitable. Now that the tools are better and organizations are doing more change around social media and different ways to interact and share information, successes are starting to show up. It is easy to use collaboration to create wins within CM (Yammer for dialogue to build FAQ’s is my favorite so far). Turning that into operational interaction that gets information sharing and saving to the right level might be another “changing” for next year.

Levels of CM.

Not only are CM resources almost assumed for projects, but multiple specialties are often included. Partially gone are the days when the change management consultant did all the training, made all the videos, created all the communications and then somehow (by giving up sleep) actually PRACTICED change management. We have junior, mid and senior level consultants now. Sometimes there are all three on the same large transformation.

Status Quo

Some things are slow to change.

My list of CM status quo:

  • Heavy reliance on templates (why? for documentation? for planning? to cover your “you know what”?)
  • Urgency. Not going away, not necessary to get rid of. The perspective that there HAS to be a sense of urgency is status quo guru stuff and is all about push change. People are onto this.
  • The list of deliverables- Readiness Assessment, the survey, individual readiness yellow/red/green chart, the plans. Versions of these do make sense (as does some status quo all of the time). Again, it is the way they are approached and the reasoning behind including them that is status quo. One decision by a senior leader throws all those deliverables completely out of whack (so what was the reason to create them again?).
  • We should do whatever we can internally with internal resources. ‘Never gonna go away. This may make sense for operational work where competency can be trained and developed. It rarely makes sense when competency needed requires experience OUT of the organization. The ONLY way you get that is with externals. CM is one area where I would venture to say external influence is essential to success.

Stakeholders are open to this change management thing. Approaches (and so successes) are following that openness. Change Management is changing. Now if we could stop with the templates, false urgency, spreadsheets and “we can do this ourselves” attitude we will be closer to a mature approach to change.

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