What is Change Management, Really? A nine-step approach.

Like many things in life, the definition of Change Management depends on the Landscape you are looking at.

Like many things in life, the definition of Change Management depends on the Landscape you are looking at.

If you have been following my “Ponderings and Insights,” you already know that I am active in several Change Management/Organization Change groups in Linked In.  There have been numerous discussions by “Change Management Practitioners” about what Change Management is (or isn’t), how it fits in with PMI (or doesn’t), as well as the variety of related terms (e.g., OCM, Change Transformation).  If we the practitioners can’t agree, how the heck can we expect the rest of you to understand what Change Management is (and isn’t)! 

So here I am, trying to cut through the morass and net things down to some fundamental concepts.  My personal objective in the next series of articles is for you, the reader, to expand your knowledge base.  To better understand what it really takes to execute changes within an organization.  It is my hope that you not only learn something, but that you have the opportunity apply some of my “Ponderings and Insights” (which I often think of as a look inside my brain) to your own life and organization. 

This article is the beginning of a series of related articles written by myself and Gail Severini, CEO at Symphini Change Management Inc.  While Gail and I can both be considered “Change Management Experts”, you will see that there are areas where we don’t always share the exact same view.  We are very close, but there are differences.  

I decided to start my portion of the series with a contribution I just made to a Linked In discussion.  This particular discussion began 6 months ago with the following statement “The PMI does not recognize the importance of OCM in project implementation success.  Comment on this statement”.  At this point, the discussion is up to 312 contributions and has touched upon not only the original statement, but a myriad of related items.  What was interesting today was that we are reaching the point I like to call “agree to disagree”.  One contributor attributed it to left-brain vs. right-brained, several others focused on “symptoms” vs. “root cause”. 

So here was my first discussion contribution today.  There was (of course) a rebuttal of sorts so I’ve written more in the LI discussion.  During future articles, I’ll explore what I mean by each of these nine steps.  Who knows, maybe these nine steps will be the framework for the book that keeps trying to work itself out of my brain. 

“To me, many of the differences depend heavily upon what type of change.  Is it an IT change, an organizational change, or a strategic business change.  They all have very different components … however there are core elements and activities to all of them.

So here’s the summary of a “middle brainer” (I don’t cleanly fit either left or right.) and a person who considers themselves both a CM and PM.

1 – Begin with the end in mind. This should not just look at the project, but the business needs. It’s not just putting in an application, what is the company looking to accomplish with it.
2 – Identify stakeholder groups. Not just key stakeholders or impacted groups. Stakeholders can be other projects.
3 – Architect the program. The framework, specs, program elements.
4 – Identify potential barriers.
5 – Adjust Architecture.
6 – Design components.
7 – Execute components.
8 – Monitor & Assess against 1, 3 & 6.
9 – Adjust, revise, enhance, course correct, et al

The specifics within each of these points vary greatly based upon numerous factors.

What can we do?
* Listen to our clients and colleagues.
* Not get hung up on terminology.
* When you run into a situation where your view of CM is different, simply explain that there are different types/flavors of Change Management the same as there are different types of applications and IT programs.
* Understand the purpose and value of PM. There is a reason it is there. Does it sometimes get out of hand?  Yes, it can. But so can anything else.
* Think in terms of collaboration not combating.
* Recognize that we can likely never do all the program elements that we would like or even feel are necessary. That is simply a truth of the business world.
* Expend energy on moving forward rather than on unimportant details or terminology.
* “Win over” others through successful execution and through a positive example.

In the end, what is most important is really #1 above.  There are many, many paths to get there.  How you exactly get there is truly not as important as actually arriving.”

Gail and I both believe that Change Management is a critical component of successful business change.  As such, we are committed to expanding the general understanding of Change Management and will be posting multiple articles on this topic over the next several months.  Some articles will be collaboratively written, others written and posted individually, still others may add new “voices” to our discourse.  You can find us both on Linked In.  We hope you will visit both our sites as well as others we may point you to. 

  • To read about Faith on Linked In, click here
  • Other information about Faith is available on the About Us portion of this site. 
  • To read about Gail on Linked In, click here.  
  • Other information about Gail is available in the About Us portion of Symphini’s site.
  • To see Gail’s blog, click here
  • To review Symphini’s Twitter account, look for “symphini”.  The mission of this Twitter account is to contribute to the development and awareness of Change and Change Management.

If you want to contact us directly, you can reach Faith at ffuquapurvis@synergetic-solutions.com and Gail at gailseverini@symphini.com.

Categories : Change Management


  1. Rosalind says:

    By far the most helpful plus informed tips I stumbled upon for this subject. Sure pleased that I stumbled upon that web page by chance. I will be opting-in to your own rss feed in order that I’m able to have the current updates. Truly appreciate everything here.

  2. Wayne Kaea says:

    actually a good post. I will absolutely be reading this blog a lot more.

  3. Daniel says:

    Thank you for this info! I enjoyed it.

  4. Terence says:

    I think you know how to write a actually wonderful post. Thanks!

  5. Tamesha says:

    Thank you for this info! I enjoyed it.

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes