By Craig A. Stevens, PMP, MBB
Change is the most natural of all management concepts. Physicist Dr. William Pollard put it this way, “Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
Change Management is a way to make changes happen. Change is required to transition from any operational state to a better or improved state. Every strategy that results in a different path or improved process or system requires a change. Project management is “The Tool” to Implement Change and is the most effective tool to manage the transitions during a change. Tom Peters, world-famous author and consultant, said, “The whole discipline and art of project management is going to be the essence of management training, operational excellence, and value added.” Managing and implementing changes is one of the most important jobs of any management team.
In 1990, Steven W. Gambrell and I published our first paper explaining that change happens in three phases before, during and after the change as in figure 4 above. Change Management is a way to optimize these three phases to make changes happen more effectively. This site focuses on implementing change with project management as the implementation tool that a change manager must master to be effective.
Change is applied in a number of ways, but there are two basic types of change:
1st Order Changes are small, incremental changes or continuous improvements. Small being defined as more of a transitional adaptation and not a major paradigm shifting step change (2nd order change). Small, incremental changes may not require a project at all. However, 2nd order changes could also require small or large or project
2nd Order Changes are major step changes. Major step changes shift the way you do business, changes paradigms, and may make entire lines of products or services obsolete. Whereas, a 1st order change may only make the current product or service better or more efficient. Major 2nd Order step changes may also require small or large projects.
In any case, a change when large enough is implemented using project management tools. Improving operations is directly related to changing an operational process or system within an organization. Once an improvement is suggested, the appropriate prioritized and selected changes are implemented using project management.
Project managers are change managers (the change implementers). To illustrate this, one of the figures above, shows the project management’s triple constraints “iron triangle” superimposed on the three phases of change model. Traditionally the iron triangle represents the full scope of a project manager’s interest. However, the Strategic Project Manager is also concerned with the regions outside of the actual project, both before and after the change.