2775011897_19b6365f4f_oAs I explained in part one, the Prosci ADKAR Model is one of the most widely used frameworks for managing change. Practitioners say that it makes sense, is easy to explain to others and helps them see and unlock numerous and various types of change. Whether a change is impacting five, 50, 500 or 5,000 employees, it will deliver better results when each employee has awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. Since ADKAR describes the outcomes of a successful individual transition, the five building blocks can be considered the milestones of successful change at the individual level. So what can a project team do to support impacted employees through their own individual journeys?


This article is an excerpt from Eric Verzuh’s latest book, The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management, courtesy of The Versatile Company.


Actions Required: Organizational Change Management

Whereas individual change management and ADKAR describe the “outcomes desired” for change, organizational change management describes the “actions required.” Over the past two decades, change management has evolved from primarily conceptual frameworks toward a rigorous, structured and documented process with formal deliverables and tools to support its application. While there are numerous approaches available, here we’ll be exploring the Prosci “Three-Phase Process” at a high level, and I’ll call out specific activities and deliverables in each of the phases:

  • Preparing for change;
  • Managing change; and
  • Reinforcing Change.

Phase 1: Preparing for Change

A “one size fits all” solution for change management is ineffective. The type and nature of change will be unique, and so will the people side impact and people side challenges. Phase 1 focuses on building the strategy and situational awareness and supporting structures dictated by the change you’re working to manage. Key activities of phase one include:

  • Defining the individual level change required by the project;
  • Assessing the nature and type of project (the change characteristics);
  • Assessing the individuals and groups being impacted by the change (organizational attributes);
  • Evaluating overall people side risk;
  • Developing risk mitigation tactics;
  • Anticipating resistance and developing mitigation tactics;
  • Creating a customized change management strategy;
  • Designing the sponsorship model needed to support realization; and
  • Equipping the change team and project team.

The outputs of building situational awareness in this first phase guide the development of the specific activities and deliverables in phases two and three.

Phase 2: Managing Change

The second phase in the process covers the outward, employee-facing activities of change management. Based on the analysis in phase one, including the risk profile and customization based on situational awareness, the team creates five specific plans for supporting individual adoption and usage during the course of the project. These five plans are aligned to the ADKAR elements and integrated into a project plan for greatest impact. The five plans are:

  • Communications plan: A “telling plan” merely informs employees about what the project team is doing; a communication plan answers the questions employees have and is delivered by preferred senders through preferred mediums.
  • Sponsor roadmap: This provides specific direction and actions needed by senior leaders to fulfill their role as sponsor — namely, active and visible participation, building a healthy coalition and communicating directly to employees.
  • Coaching plan: This presents the actions needed by front-line managers and supervisors throughout the organization to support their direct reports in times of change; their proximity to impacted employees makes them crucial allies.
  • Training plan: This plan details the efforts to build sufficient knowledge during and after the change, documenting requirements and positioning efforts within context.
  • Resistance management plan: This plan lays out the approach for both proactive and reactive resistance management, including who the key players are for identifying and managing resistance.

Each of the five plans supports specific building blocks of the Prosci ADKAR Model. For example, you can’t train awareness, and you can’t communicate ability. ADKAR provides guidance that enables the team to leverage the right plans and tools at the right time during the change lifecycle. Formal deliverables are created for each of the five plans and they’re integrated into the project timeline to ensure that affected employees have ability when it is time for “be live” on the project.

Phase 3: Reinforcing Change

The final “action required” in organizational change management is reinforcement of the change. As it is with individuals, the natural tendency of organizations is to revert. Specific, deliberate activities and mechanisms must be leveraged to ensure the change sticks and results are sustained. Key activities in this third phase include:

  • Proactively collecting feedback;
  • Listening to employees;
  • Auditing compliance;
  • Measuring performance;
  • Diagnosing gaps;
  • Identifying and managing resistance, particularly pockets of resistance;
  • Implementing corrective actions;
  • Celebrating successes; and
  • Transitioning the change to the operational owner.

Many times, the project team is disbanded once the project ends, but reinforcement activities are still required to ensure sustainment. This requires a well-designed approach that transfers ownership and accountability for reinforcement into the organization.

While projects come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, the universal constant is the affected employees who must change how they do their jobs. A significant portion of your project’s expected results and outcomes rely on and depend on individuals making their own personal transitions successfully (even more so for strategic, critical and integration-oriented projects). As a project manager your ability to support and catalyze those individual transitions is a key part of creating project value and your own success. Change management provides the structured discipline, milestones and deliverables you need to manage the “harder” side of projects and initiatives.

To learn more about change management, visit http://www.prosci.com to access blogs, webinars, tutorials and tools. Prosci provides role-based solutions for project managers, change management leaders and business leaders and managers based on decades of research. Its popular book series includes ADKAR: A Model for Change, Change Management: The People Side of Change, and Best Practices in Change Management.

Copyright Prosci. Used by Permission.

Have your change management efforts used this framework? Share your experiences with the MPUG community in the comments below.

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