Change Management Trends for 2019

Over the past twenty years, change management has evolved from a “nice to have” ad-hoc program into a globally recognized field with professional certifications and accreditations. During this evolution, change management trends have shifted to keep up with industry trends (if you are updating your change strategy after every program increment as part of an Agile implementation you know exactly what I am talking about) as well as with advances within the change management field itself.

Last year, Prosci asked 1,778 change practitioners what they expected to happen in change management from that time until 2020. These practitioners identified the following trends:

  1. Greater awareness and support for change management (I want to point out that this has been a top trend since 2007)
  2. Broader and more frequent application of change management
  3. Increase in change maturity (referring to both hiring more change professionals and establishing a formal change management office and where that office sits within an organization)
  4. Greater need for education and training

These trends are definitely familiar to me and from what I have been reading on change blogs and in other publications, they also ring true for a lot of other change professionals. Earlier this year I attended a webinar on Change Management trends for 2019. The trends covered in the webinar reflected the Prosci data cited above. In addition, the presenter identified an increased volume of change as a key trend to watch out for in 2019 and beyond. The key forces driving this frequent change, according to the presenter, are Agile Development and organizations needing to stay competitive. These trends indicate that change practitioners around the globe are facing similar challenges in delivering successful change programs. While this can seem daunting, it’s also an opportunity for all of us to collaborate, share best practices and continue to advance the discipline of change management.  

Personally, the trends that resonate the most with me with are Increased Awareness for Change and Where Change Management Should Live Within an Organization.

According to Prosci, increasing change awareness has been a top trend since 2007. Despite the growth and development of change management, it is unfortunately still seen as merely communications and training by many people with influential roles. As change practitioners, we need to demonstrate that the full spectrum what we do (often behind the scenes) is essential to user adoption and ultimately, ROI. I also believe change management needs at seat at the table early in the project lifecycle which I am sure most of you agree. All too often change management is brought in right before execution or deployment – not leaving much time to build awareness and understanding, putting adoption and overall project success at risk.

The second trend I’ve called out – where should change management live - is an interesting debate and one that I find myself thinking about quite often. Where change management resides really does vary depending on the organization. Should change management be enterprise wide or business unit specific? Most of my experience as an internal change practitioner within several corporations has resulted in me being placed inside of the IT organization. When I worked as a consultant, I worked on initiatives led by various business units, including HR and the PMO.

When change practitioners are surveyed on where change management falls within their organization, the top ranked departments are typically the PMO, HR, and IT. In 2017, a Prosci survey found that when asked where change management lives, participants stated the PMO (32%), HR (30%), and IT (20%). In that same survey, Prosci asked participants where they think change management should live and where it would be the most effective, the top results were the Strategy / Transformation office (24%) and the PMO (22%). Only 2% of the participants stated that change management is most effective residing in IT.

I can see the value of change management operating from within HR, sitting alongside organizational development and L&D. I think there is great value in change management working collectively with organizational development as the volume and complexity of organizational change increases. Also, people are at the core of both HR and change management. The issue with having HR as a home is that often ties HR lacks a connection to the day-to-day operations of the business. It makes sense that change management often falls within IT because IT change initiatives often impact users across the entire organization; however, as with HR, IT may not have a strong connection with the business. If change management reported into a Strategy / Transformation Office, it would be closely aligned with the long-term strategic goals of the organization. It would also bring change management closer to C-suite executives, which would hopefully lend itself to increased executive support for change initiatives. The issue here would be change management being seen as a strictly corporate function and that may make it difficult to create productive and meaningful connections with all of the necessary departments across the organization.

There are pros and cons to all of these options. My personal take on this trend is still forming. What I can say with certainty is that the best home for change management is where it can have the most impact and be the most effective and I think this will vary depending on the organization.  Wherever change management lives, practitioners must repeatedly demonstrate the value change management provides while continuing to build the credibility and influence of the change management function.

I’d like to hear from you, our ACMP NE members. What do think are the key trends in change management? What trends are you seeing in your organization?  Post a comment to this blog or email your thoughts / comments to [email protected].

Authored by: Barbi Jo Orlando, ACMP NE board member





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  1. Melanie Smith

    Aug. 19, 2019

    Nice article - all topics that resonate and lovely to hear your dilemmas and emerging thoughts. I listening to a great Prosci webinar on the way to Vancouver the weekend with the family (ear piece I must add, not sure my children would replace their music with Prosci webinars just yet !). The Webinar was 'Change Enabling Systems' (thanks Prosci). It talked about the umbrellas Change Mgt is often placed under. It also talked about the great number of 'enabling capabilities' across an organization/enterprise, which vary based on the unique challenges that organization may have and also the type of organization. Importantly they are unique drivers identified as needed for an organization to grow. Eg manufacturing industries may focus on - optimization, lean, six sigma. Architect business may focus more on knowledge management, Utilities - continuous improvement, data, analytic etc etc And that there is often never just one capability but a blend of capabilities that an organization may need (often the reason they are forced together under an umbrella with other capabilities under the headings you mention or 'transformation' or 'Org and process optimization' as some additional examples) What I found enlightening is that they are all important and whilst there is of course a level of friction to be anticipated - its how we not just come together and stay together but work together for the best interests of the business. Change Mgt is key and has a place in any area where a people orientated ROI is required - and unless were all robots, that accounts for a fair few. We can help in Change Management by being clear on our value …To achieve what…By doing What …. (this will help others understand) eg to deliver successful change and people dependent return on investment and value BY preparing, equipping and supporting our people on their change journeys.


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