Project Manager, Change Manager or Change Leader?

Project Manager, Change Manager or Change Leader?

Insights | 11 July 2014

It appears that today’s Project Manager not only has to be PMI®, PRINCE2® and Agile certified (and an expert with years of specific industry experience!), but now Change Management has been added to the ever growing list of requirements.

You are forgiven if the proverb “Jack of all trades, master of nothing” springs to mind. Or sceptically asking “Isn’t change management just another trend? Isn’t this all covered by my communications/stakeholder engagement plan(s)?”

The answer of course is no.

Both Organisational Development (the practice of changing people and organisations for positive growth) and Portfolio / Project Management have views on ‘managing change’. Integrating these worlds is not trivial. Nor is one person necessarily meant to be the expert in all disciplines.

So what does change management mean for us as project managers?

According to the PMI® (Project Management Institute):

“Change management is the comprehensive, cyclic and structured approach for transitioning individuals, groups, and organizations form a current state to a future state with intended business benefits”.

Prosci’s® definition is that:

“Change Management is the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome”.

This highlights the view: is it managing change or rather, leading change?

A ‘change’ leader (as opposed to someone ‘managing’ change), drives change, ‘stirs the pot’, takes the lead, is passionate and a catalyst for an alternative future. Change leaders are not always necessarily popular; they challenge the current status quo and the often comfortable but stagnant zone.

In effect, successful change requires management and leadership.

Change management/leadership is an essential capability that today transcends projects, programmes and portfolios and beyond, into the realm of business as usual. A robust change framework should address formulating, planning, implementing, managing and sustaining change, addressing factors that can impede and foster change.

“Organizations that have implemented good change management practices are 117% more likely to report increased success with new initiatives than those organizations that have not established strong change management cultures”.

The PMI® Pulse of the Profession® In-Depth Report: Organizational Agility

So where does that leave you as a Project Manager?

As part of professional development and setting yourself up for success in future projects, an understanding of change management and the role of the change manager/change leader is vital.

“Effective change managers play a key role alongside programme and project managers in leading, facilitating and coordinating engagement with stakeholders through the full life cycle of change”.

Change Management Body of Knowledge, 2013

Effective change management/leadership requires not only understanding the type of change required, the processes or framework to follow but also a knowledge of the culture and political environment of the organisation. Change management/leadership needs to happen before, during and after a project, from within and also externally to the project. Change needs to be sustained through ongoing activities often outside of the traditional scope of programmes/projects.

Successful organisations will integrate the worlds of project management and change management to meet the dynamic business landscape confronting them. Successful project managers will acknowledge, embrace and adapt to such changes.

For more information on our Practical Change Management workshop contact our Professional Development Consultants on +65 6818 5771.

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