Some of the core ideas about human behavior that shape the field of Change Management have been around for over 50 years. But the field itself is relatively young. In the last 20 years, the field has grown and changed tremendously and more is yet to come.
In the mid-90’s, when many of us at Change Guides were just getting our start, big consulting firms like Deloitte Consulting and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) created Change Management methodologies for the first time. Practitioners read John Kotter and Daryl Conner (ok, so some things haven’t changed) but generally, available resources were limited. There was a lot of experimentation – what works and what doesn’t?
In 2005 when Change Guides formed, experimentation led to best practices and we published the first accessible methodology and toolkit focused on Change Management (The Change Management Pocket Guide, First Edition on Amazon.com). Today, ten years after the start of Change Guides, we see a different landscape in terms of demand, advocacy and available resources.
Demand and advocacy
Then: We heard “what do you do?” Change Management Consulting and Training could be a hard sell. Change Management wasn’t in project budgets. Project or operational managers weren’t sure how the work that change management consultants differed from the work of project consultants. As a company whose sole business is Change Management, we were advocates and educators first. We had to teach our customers what deliverables and outcomes resulted from Change Management work and training.
Now: We hear, “we need Change Management on this project.” We’ve had repeat clients for years and we add new clients annually. Once companies experience what skilled Change Management resources do, the tides turn. Internally, business leaders advocate for Change Management resources. They advocate to develop skills internally and they set aside budget to fund external experts to help the overall effort.
Then: Information was out there, but it was not ubiquitous. Knowledge sharing was organic and informal. We talked face to face with colleagues about what they did, what worked and what didn’t. We listened, adapted, tried, sometimes failed but mostly succeeded in improving project outcomes.
As consultants solely focused on Change Management, we were an anomaly. Clients never had internal change management resources. There were no CMOs (Change Management Offices). There were no Chief Change Officers, no certified change management professionals. There were no Change Management Workstreams in projects (unless we were there to add them).
Now: Knowledge is readily shared in the form of books, eBooks, LinkedIn groups, Blogs, YouTube videos, Change Management certifications (like our very own Change Guides Change Management Certification) and Change Management apps like our free Change Readiness Audit (add links). More consultants are dedicated to the field of Change Management as seen by the growth of the Association for Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and the Change Management Institute (CMI).
Clients build internal competencies and centers of excellence (COEs) in managing change with leaders and internal subject matter experts (SMEs). They demand more from their partner consulting and training firms. They need external resources that partner with internal SMEs, help develop their internal competency and provide a higher level of experience and expertise.
While Change Management has changed over the years, more is on the horizon. We know that the foundational truths like the ones captured in our second book, The Eight Constants of Change, still apply and probably always will. But we are always learning. The field will grow as experienced practitioners continue to learn and grow and feed that learning back into the field, as the Change Management research base grows, and as the workforce changes.
We are excited to continue leading the evolution of this important field. As Change Management work evolves, we predict that consultants will fall into two groups – Change Management Generalists and Change Management Specialist Experts. Generalist positions will exist internally and at consulting firms whose core competency is something other than Change Management (where Change Management is seen as an “add on” service). Firms like ours, who only do Change Management, will be hired as Specialist Experts to work with the Generalists. Whether our prediction about change management roles is correct or not, one prediction is certain… The field of Change Management will keep changing.
Have your own predictions? Join our LinkedIn Group and let us all know what you think.