When Change Management & Project Management are the Same


It seems every month or so a discussion crops up in a Forum somewhere about change vs. project roles. Are they the same? Are they different? Can one person do both? Could one person switch from role to role? What are the competencies for each (or one if you think they are the same)? I have found a time when they are very much the same. It might still take two people though (or four hands).

Major Date Changes

Change a hard and fast date that everyone has been pivoting and ricocheting off of and things explode.

Explosions create a lot of small pieces that spread everywhere.

There is probably a complicated mathematical formula to figure out exactly where each piece goes, how far and what kind of damage it might cause.

Formula or not picking up the pieces is a tactical exercise. And yes I have converted our metaphor to change management.

Tactics are the realm of junior change management consultants and project managers.

Change a date and the two become almost the same. One may have an eye on effect of one thing on another. The other may be looking for increased risk (from the always risky date change and all the previous documented danger areas). Still they are both tactically focused at this point.

I have seen this dance on every engagement I have been on. My friends, who should know better by now, always think my current engagement is going to be THE ONE that does not have a major date adjustment. And they are ALWAYS wrong.

Let’s see if these lists end up being the same:

Change Management:

  1. Adjusts training schedules
  2. Instantly crafts those apology communications
  3. Tries to remain visibly calm while calming others
  4. Somewhere in the back of their minds re-sorts the stakeholder list

(P.S. on #4- date changes makes readiness assessments look like a colossal waste of time… and there is always a date change… so…)

Project Management:

  1. Pushes dates forward, sideways and out of the way on the project template
  2. Schedules a new ridiculous amount of extra meetings
  3. Spend even more time on the phone pushing decisions
  4. Somewhere in the back of their minds does a new risk calculation

Except for number four in each list they look the same with different task lists.

Odds are pretty good that a senior change practitioner is thinking of the PM and what is going through their mind-risk.

Odds are pretty good that a senior project manager is thinking of the CM and what is going on in their mind-people having to mini-change in the middle of big change.

When a major date for a change initiative changes, project managers and change practitioners quickly become much the same. Tactics cross specialties.

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