Project Management and Change Management are often used interchangeably. The confusion is interesting because getting the Project and Change teams to work well with each other pays off significantly.
Making the decision about which of these approaches to take at the earliest opportunity will save us a lot of time and effort later on. The choice is all about how easy it is for people to understand what has to be done.
- Change Management is an additional level of discipline based on the complexity of the activity being undertaken.
- Project management is used if the tasks or changes are simple and commonly understood. When the changes become more complex, the need for increased discipline with respect to Change Management becomes important.
In short, Change Management serves as another layer of discipline over Project Management in complex transformations.
The most frequent practical difference is in the level of communication needed. Leaders who initiate real change spend time communicating the change before it gets rolled out. This is the key to minimising resistance. The temptation to speed through the communication; or to assume that others already know what needs to happen, is often what seems to get things derailed. This is entirely understandable because senior staff have spent much time thinking about change before they try to implement, and it is very easy to assume others know as much as us at this stage.
Change Management allows for a greater degree of communication, involvement and participation in the process. It also demonstrates flexibility and patience when there appears to be initial resistance. In this way success is much more likely.
Project Managers are more like scientists and Change Managers are more like artists.
Have a great week.
About the Author: Adam Blackie is a professional Interim Manager who leads service delivery teams through their change programmes. He works with CEO’s and their Boards in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.