Change management represents a large and rapidly growing discipline that is being increasingly deployed on a global scale by corporations, governmental entities, and non-profits. Change management refers to a structured approach to facilitate the adoption of change by groups and individuals within an organization.

When you think about change management, think first of people going through a change, both as individuals and as groups. For example, consider a change that you have been part of at work or at home. How well was that change handled? Did you feel part of the change, or a victim of the change? Did your change have effective change leadership? Change management is the application of a structured process and tools to enable individuals or groups to transition from a current state to a future state, such that a desired outcome is achieved. When change management is done well, people feel engaged in the change process and work collectively towards a common objective, and the outcomes are change projects realizing benefits and delivering results.

Change management differs from project management in that project management is a technical set of tools and processes applied by a small group of project management professionals. Change management emphasizes the “people-side” of change and targets leadership within all levels of an organization including executives, senior leaders, middle managers and line supervisors.

History

Change management as a discipline began to emerge in the 1980s driven by leading consulting firms working with Fortune 50 companies. Early adopters, such as GE, Ford, and AT&T, were very large corporations that could derive significant savings through more efficiently implementing new programs and were accustomed to cutting edge thought leadership roles. This work resulted in early change management models such as GE’s Change Acceleration Process (CAP) and John Kotter’s Eight Step Process for Leading Change. At this time, Change management offerings were mostly available through consulting services, with a limited number of books and textbooks available. During the 1990s, industries undergoing significant and rapid change in areas such as information technology and human resources began highlighting the benefits of change management programs on a broader scale. The experiences, consequences, and costs of implementing change without a structured approach has helped employees and organizations embrace change management tools. Though use of change management was still limited primarily to large corporations in the habit of regularly utilizing professional consulting firms, change management was receiving more and more visibility and credibility.

The 2000’s marked widespread acceptance of change management as a business competency for leading change. This shift increased the credibility of change management in the business world and with project teams. The benchmarking data on ‘use of a methodology’ shows a marked increase from 34% in 2003 to 72% in 2011. The value of change management was further validated through additional research on the impact of change management on business success by Prosci, IBM and McKinsey.

The market for change management tools and training grew rapidly through this period, with as many as 320 consulting firms having been identified as offering change management services by 2011. Some were established with their own change management methodologies while others previously offering only consulting services also began providing training and some level of product offering as well. The close of the decade saw the formation of the industry’s first global association for change management practitioners, the Association of Change Management Professionals (“ACMP”).

Industry

The change management marketplace consists of consulting services, training services and products. Companies actively offering change management services or products include large and small consulting firms, change management product development companies, higher education institutions and business certification organizations including change management associations.

Most large consulting firms offer change management consulting services that fall broadly under the management consulting headline. These services are typically strategic offerings rather than a stand-alone service. Companies offering change management training services in addition to consulting services usually do so on a client-specific basis. Products, when provided, are generally offered to support a consulting engagement.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are businesses dedicated primarily or solely to change management. These companies provide a core offering in the form of consulting or training services. Their intellectual property often takes the form of proprietary change management models, strategies, and methods, as well as products such as books, toolkits, and web applications.

Other organizations fall somewhere in between in their specific focus on change management. Higher education institutions have begun offering change management degrees, as well as continuing education credits through change management courses. In limited cases, certain higher education institutions have partnered with management consulting firms to offer programs and services. Additionally, business certification organizations also offer change management accreditation among their certification courses.

Change management targets all organizations undergoing change, regardless of industry. Products, tools, and training programs target the larger group of general managers and business leaders, in addition to a select group of change management professionals and consultants. Over the next decade it is expected that change management will continue to be increasingly internalized into organizations as an expected leadership competency. Prosci’s holds a unique position in this marketplace as the world leader in change management research and the associated training programs and products.

Change management targets all organizations undergoing change, regardless of industry. Products, tools, and trainings target the larger group of general managers and business leaders, in addition to a select group of change management professionals and consultants.

When deciding on a change management program, organizations can generally choose from:
1. Off-the-shelf change management programs to apply to their projects
2. Developing and applying their own change management methodology
3. Engaging a consulting firm which offers change management services

Organizations choosing to apply an off-the-shelf approach may send a team of managers or group of executives to training courses and/or buy change management products to support their change management program. Organizations choosing to develop their own Change Management methodology in-house may license intellectual property from a change management provider to customize their unique approach or develop tools and processes completely from internal experience. Organizations choosing to hire a consulting firm may request the consulting firm develop a custom set of change management tools tailored around the organization, or the organization may be aware of a specific change management methodology and engage a consulting firm to educate and train its managers in that particular methodology.

Increasingly, organizations have opted to develop internal change management competency over one-time consulting engagements for Change Management. This has resulted in a shift in the marketplace from a preference for services only, to a preference for services with product offering. Organizations are more frequently choosing to buy or license Change Management models and tools and become trained in their theory and application in order to develop an internal capability. This shift in preference has also resulted in the recent increased desire for web-based software and mobile applications. Over the next decade it is expected that Change Management will continue to be increasingly internalized into organizations as an expected leadership competency.


References:

Prosci Inc [2013] Change Management [Online] Prosci Inc Retrieved from: http://www.prosci.com/change-management/definition/ [Accessed 23/11/13]