What is Change Management? (Part I)

One of the greatest opportunities in working with our customers is to introduce changes in behaviors and processes to the betterment of all. As we all know change isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. I have always believed that change is best administered a tablespoon at a time versus a shovel full unless of course circumstances call for drastic measures. The construction industry is at a watershed moment when it comes to adopting new project management methodologies such as Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) to increase productivity, reduce costs, and create confidence among owners to spur innovation.

Change management is like the Term IT which means different things to different people. But in general terms, Change Management covers all types of processes implemented to prepare and support organizational change. These range from methodologies applied to resources, business processes, budget allocations and other operational aspects of a project. Change management in the context of project management often refers to a change control process when working on a project. That is, the process of changes in scope to a project are formally introduced and approved as a change management system.
Change management isn’t solely about projects and organizations. You’re preparing, equipping and supporting team members, real people, to adopt change. This drives the organizational success of the project. Yes, while change can happen anywhere and at any time, and people’s responses can vary, change management offers a structured method that can reign in the chaos and control your project.

Change Management requires strong LEADERSHIP!

One thing is certain: change is going to happen. It’s an inevitable fact of any team or project and, therefore, an aspect of any project that must be planned for. To best plan and respond to change, first, a clear definition of change management must be understood.

Different Types of Change Management
To first wrap your head around change management models, it’s important to distinguish change as occurring in three distinct categories. By breaking the large subject of change into small subsets of change it immediately becomes more manageable.

  1. Individual Change Management: People are the root of all change. You can change systems and procedures, but if you don’t address the human in the room, then you’re not changing anything. To get people to change, you must know your subject. What do they need to hear to become open to change? How and when should training be offered to help them with the transition? The tools of this trade are psychological; even neuroscience can help with finding the right angle to steer a person from one behavior to another more productive one.
  2. Organizational Change Management: While the people on your team are the core target to effect change, there are also larger, more organizational issues you must address if you want to create real change in a project. To do so requires first identifying the groups that require change and how they must change. Then, create a plan that addresses these components of the project, which includes making everyone aware of the change, leading that change through coaching or some other method like training, and then driving that change in congress with the management of the whole project.
  3. Enterprise Change Management: Taking a step up from the organizational change is to address the entire enterprise. It’s basically taking change management writ large to encompass all aspects of an organization, meaning roles, structure, process, projects, leadership, etc. By approaching change on the macro-level you’re more likely to implement change on the micro-level, as strategic engagement with change has been applied to the very workings of the organization. It creates a nimbler organization, able to stay flexible and adapt quickly to changes as they occur.

So why exactly is Change Management Necessary?

Project management teams focus primarily on fulfilling the strategic objectives of a project. While a team is often made up of stakeholders from various departments and backgrounds, the stakeholders on the team are not always able to address the impact the project may have on stakeholders outside of that “inner circle.”

This uncertainty can lead to anxiety, confusion, and resistance from the people on the ground who may not fully understand the need for the changes or how to adopt and adapt to new processes. Without buy-in from the rest of the organization, the Advance Work Packaging project outcomes can be stunted.

Change management is the solution to this sticky problem.

Change managers help the people affected by a project to transition smoothly. They fulfill this goal through three process stages:

  • Planning for change
  • Managing change
  • Reinforcing change

In many ways, change managers are the cheerleaders for a project. They must craft and deliver the messaging around the project and communicate the reason for adopting Advance Work Packaging changes with employees and other stakeholders. Additionally, they will work with stakeholders to help them understand how those changes may impact different departments and roles and how to move forward effectively and efficiently.

Next month we will delve more into the differences between Change Management and Project Management and how Advance Work Packaging processes are far more effective when Change Management is an important part of the mix.