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9 May 2007

Change Management – a definition

Project practitioners everywhere are using the phrase change management in the context of managing the work effort or the design elements of a project. It’s a problem when you want to talk about change management in the holistic context of the change the project is bringing to the client.

Both the PMBOK and the PRICNE2 framework use the phrase change control. This phrase is better as it differentiates it from change management, but still focuses change efforts on managing the scope rather than the project’s efforts to implement change into the client organisation.

Implementing change is where the true focus of change management should be for project teams. Regardless of whether your project is introducing new internal systems or a new product the client organisation needs to be able to adapt to the new systems, tools, processes or structures.

Project management is more than the hard sciences of how to plan, monitor and control a project. Successful people management is one of the critical success factors for a project and so management theory should not be discounted when talking about project management.

Change management in the contact of modern management theory begins with Kurt Lewin’s three step freeze, unfreeze, refreeze paradigm of the 1950’s and has continued to evolve, drawing on psychology, sociology and other social sciences as it’s travelled.

If you want to learn more about change management in the first scope oriented sense try this website. If you want to learn more about the ideas around people change management stick around here.