Big Themes

What is Change Management?

At a project or initiative level "Change Management is the application of processes and tools to manage the people side of change from a current state to a new future state so that the desired results of the change (and expected return on investment) are achieved."

Jeffrey Hiatt / Timothy Creasey
Change Management: The People Side of Change

To be more specific

Change Management is a Process that follows a repeatable cycle and uses a holistic set of tools, and a Competency, because it enables change and creates a capability to increase organizational effectiveness.

To better understand how Change Management manages the people side of change and what it is, we need to establish the Prosci® 5 Tenets for Change Management, as presented by Jeffrey M. Hiatt and Tim J. Creasey in their book Change Management - The People Side of Change.

The 5 Tenets of Change Management

  1. We change for a reason

    We are changing to achieve a future state that involves a specific and desired outcome. Reasons for change vary from cost reduction to customer satisfaction improvement.

    The need for change is always driven by an opportunity or a problem to solve.

  2. Organizational change requires individual change

    New tools or processes are not enough to achieve organizational change, you need individuals in the organization to adopt new values and begin working in new ways.

  3. Organizational outcomes are the collective result of individual change

    Change is an individual event, so there are human factors to take into account. That means the more adoption an organization gets from employees, the closer it is to achieving the desired outcomes.

  4. Change Management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change

    Resistance to change is the norm in organizations, especially in change-saturated environments. Managing the people side of change drives a higher speed of adoption and an improved proficiency.

  5. We apply Change Management to realize the benefits and desired outcomes of change

    Change Management primary objective is to drive and support the realization of the desired future state and the achievement of the expected outcomes.

    Source: “Change Management - The People Side of Change” by Jeffrey M. Hiatt and Timothy J. Creasey

Change happens
at 3 levels

It enables success by supporting personal change.

Prosci®'s model for individual change is the ADKAR® Model, an acronym for awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. Change is successful only when every employee has achieved all five milestones.

Competency Building

Prosci® Fundamentals of Change Management

Understand the main concepts and organizational benefits of Change Management through a one-day experiential learning program.

Go to Program
  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate in and support the change
  • Knowledge on how to change
  • Ability to implement new skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change

It enhances outcomes and ROI by prompting adoption and usage.

The Prosci® 3-Phase Change Management Process guides leaders through change management activities during a specific project.

Competency Building

Prosci® Delivering Project Results: Workshop for Project Managers

A workshop designed to integrate Change Management and project management, to improve results and consistently reach your project objectives faster.

Go to Program

Phase One Prepare Approach

  • Define your Change Management strategy
  • Prepare your Change Management team
  • Develop your sponsorship model

Phase Two Manage Change

  • Develop Change Management plan
  • Take actions and implement plans

Phase Three Sustain Outcomes 

  • Collect and analyze feedback
  • Diagnose gaps and manage resistance
  • Implement corrective actions and celebrate success

It supports employees to adopt and use change in their daily work.

Change Management must define and assist organizations deploy this discipline across all their departments. That means everyone knows and fulfills their role in change, throughout any project and initiative. This is a journey, not a quick, silver bullet.

When this happens across multiple projects and functions the organization starts to develop a maturity in Change Management, as shown below.

Now that we know what it is, let's move to:


The 'what' has an implied 'why'. Indeed, the 'why' drives the 'what'. If we know why we need to manage change it helps define what it is we need to do, and that in turn puts the boundaries to the idea of Change Management. Let’s begin here and see where this takes us.

“Have you ever been asked to make a change when you didn’t know why a change was needed? How did that make you feel?”

Prosci®, Introduction to Change Management

Change happens constantly

In organizations, at an abstract level

All companies are aware that change is the only constant and that adpating to shifting environments in and around the organisation is necessary to survive. Change is either forced onto us due to circumstances beyond our control, or it is a conscious decision made to enable personal growth.

Why apply Change Management in an organizational context

  1. Increase probability of project success;
  2. Capture people-dependent ROI;
  3. Manage employee resistance to change;
  4. Build change competency into the organization

Change is often a necessity due to external or internal circumstances. The changes we focus on are those that aim to achieve some purpose. This fundamental need to achieve an outcome provides the motivation and the value, that demands our attention.

There are various drivers that build the need to change, and could include the environment we find ourselves in that is changing, for us personally or for our organizations. These changes could be driven by economic changes, or changes in regulations for our industry, or governments making laws that change how we operate our businesses.

We could be asked to change because of the relationships we have with other people. In the organizational case these could be our shareholders wanting better returns on their investment; our bosses, teammates, or employees, needing changes in the way processes are executed. It could even be external stakeholders, like special interest groups.

At a personal level

Perhaps the most important reasons we want to manage change may have to do with us, personally. It's well known that leaders need to lead the changes they want to see in others. They would also need to contribute their role to the overall management of the change.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Nelson Mandela

It has also become very clear in recent years that there are various roles that need to be executed in managing change, and these roles span the entire hierarchy of the organization, executives to workers. If you are a leader, then leading and managing change are essential competencies and behaviors that strengthen your control and direction.

Of course, there are those who choose to become change managers; subject matter experts in the profession of change management. These people take their passion for helping others change and apply their skills and energy to planning, building and facilitating Change Management activities for those changes they are asked to help with.

What’s the essence of Change Management?

The essence of management in the context of change is about creating the strategies that will help people:

  • Adopt and do things differently

  • Think differently

  • Feel differently

Once fashioned, these strategies inform detailed action plans that are created for various roles in the organization. This set of strategies and action plans provide the guidance and agenda for the execution of activities that drive adoption and utilization.

In a similar way to how we help people develop habits, change managers will facilitate the reinforcement of changes the organizations have made, in order to make the changes stick.

A Change Manager's essentials

Frameworks, models, tools and processes

To help achieve the above in a managed way, change managers use frameworks, models, tools and processes. The product of their work needs to be integrated into other disciplines that help the organization run smoothly.

Competency Building

Prosci® Change Management Certification Program

A comprehensive, workshop-style Program to learn how to deploy a successful change initiative, working on your actual project.

Go to Program

Yet there is still some resistance

However, change managers must be prepared to face a biased view from organizations that still don’t see it as a valuable asset.

Thus, according to the practitioners who have attended Prosci®’s courses over the past six years, some of the biggest challenges Change Management faces are:

  • Change Management is somehow recognized as important, but nothing is done to put it in practice
  • Unqualified change managers
  • Confusion around activities like communication, training and methodologies
  • Perceived to slow down projects
  • Tensions between Project Managers and Change Managers
  • Limited internal capability


  1. Knowing why we need to manage change helps define what we need to do, putting boundaries to the idea of Change Management.
  2. Change happens constantly, at an organizational and also at a personal level.
  3. There are still some biased views to overcome, and many changes to be managed over the next year.

Solutions for Individuals and Teams