Managing Change in Organisations

Are you involved in change management? Have you ever wondered why change sometimes works and sometimes not?

Managing change in organizations is the title of a “practice guide” from the Project Management Institute (PMI). It looks at the principles of change management and in particular how change interacts with projects and programmes. It makes for interesting reading.

This summary and review highlights a few salient points from the 128 page document. It is available as a download from the PMI website – and we’ve added it to the our collection of expert resources.

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Download the full 128 page report.

Change & Change Management

Change is a comprehensive, cyclic and structured approach for transitioning individuals, groups, and organisations from a current state to a future state with intended business benefits.

To enable a robust change management process leaders need to challenge their assumptions and adjust the business and leadership models they use.

The complexity of change management will depend on what is impacted in the organisation – from processes and procedures at one end of the spectrum, through to policies and underlying values at the other.

orders of change management complexity


Guidelines for Change Management

  1. Formulating the change by identifying and clarifying the need for change, assessing readiness for change, and delineating the scope of change
  2. Planning the change by defining the change approach and planning stakeholder engagement as well as transition and integration
  3. Implementing the change by preparing the organisation for change, mobilising the stakeholders, and delivering project outputs
  4. Managing the change by transitioning the outputs into business operations, measuring the adoption rate and the change outcomes and benefits, and adjusting the plan to address discrepancies
  5. Sustaining the change on an ongoing basis through communication, consultation, and representation of the stakeholders; conducting sensemaking activities; and benefits realisation

This builds on an approach from former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch; he used less wordy language – and articulated the first stage as communicating the “why” before getting to the “how”


Resistance to Change

The PMI guide tends to be heavy on process and light on the people aspects of change. However there is a good list of questions which point to the potential change barriers:
– Do you believe this change is really needed?
– How involved have you been in the planning for this change?
– How clear has communication been about this change?
– How has the sponsor enabled the change to overcome organisational barriers?
– Do you believe adequate rewards are being provided?
– How compatible do you believe this change is with existing organisational values?
– How does this change align, support or change other organisation processes?


Change and Project Management

The guide relates change in some detail to both organisational project management and portfolio management. When it comes to projects and programmes the linkage is summarised in the table below.

change management and projects

Change and Communication

There is a useful framework outlined with respect to communication in a project context. The model distinguishes different organisational roles and project phase. The “looped” communication at the operational level emphasises the iterative nature of the communication required.

change management and communication


Change and Agile

It’s not overplayed but the guide does draw some parallels between agile principles and change management. These include:
– Early and continuous delivery of benefits
– Review of changing requirements and environmental factors
– Cross functional, collaborative and empowered team
– Regular team meetings
– Simple reporting and control

Other Change Management books tend to focus on change at the level of the individual, the team and the organisation. They major on the human aspects of change and resistance to change. The PMI guide concentrates heavily on process and on linkage to portfolio, programme and project management. It is a heavy going in places and would benefit from further editing – but equally it includes a lot of valuable insights.

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