Projects make changes. For many projects that means people will have to change their behaviors for the project to deliver results. But will they? Will people on the receiving end of a project embrace the new strategy, policy, or technology? Or will they shrug, duck their head and try to ignore it?
Tim Creasey is an executive for ProSci, a company that has been focused on this question for over 20 years. According to Creasey, “The people side of change sits squarely along the critical path to delivering value above and beyond specifications.”
Experience has shown that without conscious attention to helping people change their behaviors, many people won’t change. And that resistance can ruin the value of your project. This reality explains why the framework and techniques of change management are gaining new appreciation in the world of project management.
According to Creasey, there are concrete steps that every project manager can take to win the cooperation of these essential stakeholders. But first, he emphasizes, we must understand the critical principle that forms the foundation of ProSci’s work: “The first step in applying change management is to understand how a single individual makes a change successfully, because, in the end, it is through individual employee adoption and usage that project and organizational value is created.”
Individual change follows a pattern, which ProSci has named ADKAR for the five steps of change:
- Awareness of the need for change
- Desire to participate and support the change
- Knowledge of how to change
- Ability to implement required skills and behaviors
- Reinforcement to sustain the change
Project managers who grasp this model use it as a foundation for developing project change management plans. As the size of the target audience grows or the changes become more complex, it makes sense to engage with an organizational effectiveness professional to design and implement the communication, training, and coaching plans that have proven to be so valuable.
Successful projects do more than deliver to specifications, on time and on budget. They deliver business value. Winning the cooperation of the affected people can make the difference between realizing the value and wasting the investment. That’s a compelling reason to add change management to your project management tool kit.
Tim Creasey, ProSci Chief Development Officer, has co-authored Change Management: The People Side of Change and other books. Read his in-depth introduction to change management in the newly released Fifth Edition of The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management.