Latest Trends in Change Management

Taking a retrospective look before diving into how professionals foresee the future, this series of two articles is packed with actionable insights.

Article written by Vincent Piedboeuf

Curious to know more about the latest trends in Change Management? Drawing upon the experience of more than 1000 CM practitioners, PROSCI’s latest[1] report offers the most accurate picture of what has happened in the field over the last two years … and what its avant-garde looks like. We have extracted lessons learnt and emerging trends[2]. Taking a retrospective look before diving into how professionals foresee the future, this series of two articles is packed with actionable insights. Nothing can come in handier to build and maintain a competitive edge. So, get prepared for a successful ride!

*PROSCI’s survey focused on most noticeable trends reported by respondents as they reflect on the past two years. Each trend is summarised with cross references to articles previously published by NEXUM for further reading guidance.

1.    Better understanding of the value of CM and growing credibility. 

It is an undeniable fact that there is growing awareness of the discipline within organisations worldwide. Better yet, it is increasingly seen as a prerequisite to project success. The ability to efficiently manage the human component of change gives organisations 6 times more chances to meet objectives on time and on budget. Note that this correlation has remained unchanged over the years. To further advance the agenda of CM and ensure maximum impact, it is of utmost importance to pursue the effort of clarification of CM. It is not a set of soft skills or of specific tasks such as training and communication, but rather a holistic approach to change that seeks to maximize the ROI depending on adoption and usage of a “solution”.

2.    Broader application of Change Management.

By broader application, we mean both frequency and breadth. CM is applied to more projects and to more types on average. AGILE projects are a case in point. CM methods themselves have evolved to echo the iterative approach of AGILE. As sprints and smaller releases are preferred, intermediate stages are popping up on the “change continuum” (see graph below), thus changing its morphology and overall CM workflow. This has had the positive effect of more efforts made in terms of efficiency implementation.

3.    Improved adoption of a standard change management model or approach.

The need and quest for a common CM language and shared tools have pushed organisations to dedicate time to identifying and adopting a standard approach. This has multiplied satisfaction outcomes up to 3 times. One of the most common approaches to CM involves breaking down the process into three distinct phases, including prior preparation (CM strategy, CM team training, sponsorship building), actual change management (CM plans design and subsequent implementation) and consolidation (feedback, gap analysis and corrective actions).

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4.    Lack of adequate dedicated resources for CM.

This trend is somewhat less encouraging. As respondents report being increasingly asked to do more with less, CM suffers from a lack of adequate resources (people and budget). It is, more often than not, conceived as an additional task to business as usual (BAU). Shifting the conversation from what CM does to what CM delivers is the best way to make the case for proper resourcing. At the end of the day, realisation of benefits depends to a large extent - between 80 up to 100% -  on whether and how people change the way they work.
 

5.    Increased focus on capability-building across the organisation.

Greater attention is paid to deploying CM at the organisational level. CM is gradually outgrowing the confines of single projects or isolated change initiatives. More concretely, concerted actions are taken to train management practitioners, executives and mid-level managers. Likewise, the build-up of CM as an organisational capability (ECM = Enterprise Change Management) goes hand in hand with an increased focus on career development tracks and role specialisations. The 5-stage maturity model developed by PROSCI provides guidance on how to progress along the CM ladder.
 

6.    Improved integration with PM (Project Management).

Change Management and Project Management are growing closer. The two sides have certainly progressed towards mutual recognition and cross-fertilisation in an effort to improve performance. This translates into better integration of processes and tools from day one of the project life-cycle. Fostering dialogue between CM and PM still requires a lot of work.  Beyond activity and milestone alignment, success ought to be measured not so much in terms of “go-live” but of benefit realisation at the individual, team and organisational level.

7.    Increased leadership support for CM.

PROSCI’s report closes on an extremely positive note given the increased support for CM at senior levels. Where change leadership is gaining traction as a strategic objective, CM is given a further boost. This should not obscure the fact that mid-level management resistance remains a challenging issue. Ultimately, managers are the ones in charge of cascading the change and “making it happen”. Not for nothing is pro-active resistance management an important piece of the CM arsenal.

 


[1] PROSCI (2018), Latest Trends in Change Management.

[2] Piedboeuf, V. (2018), Les tendances émergentes en Change Management, Online Seminar.

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