Explore the Levels of Change Management

Managing Change Should Be a Natural Part of a Leader’s Job, but Is It?

Al Lee-Bourke

2 Mins


I read an article in the Harvard Business Review, which said that change management is or should be just a natural part of management. But it very often isn't. That means we've got to encourage and help organizations to develop leadership capabilities and change management as an organizational competency. 
It’s only when an organization does that, can they possibly hope to cope with and manage the increasing pace of change that is happening and is required for organizational success.

Change Management vs.
Enterprise Change Management

I always get great questions from organizations I work with and in the Prosci programs I taught at Microsoft. One of the top questions is, “How do we balance and prioritize among numerous, different people-dependent change projects?”

The answer is really the difference between doing change management for one project and doing it on an enterprise scale. And while the former builds on the latter, you have got to know how to do change management for one project before you can embed it as an organizational competency to do it for many, and preferably all, people-dependent changes.

Let's say you are doing Project X, and it depends on people adopting the new way of working. So, you do change management effectively and achieve success on the project.

levels-of-change-managementBut what happens when you have 10, 20, 50 projects that depend on people changing how they work? The key, as Prosci calls it, is enterprise change management, which involves prioritizing and balancing all of the activities required to help people through their ADKAR elements against all the programs. To do that efficiently, change management really needs to be an organizational competency. It's the lens through which all people-dependent projects are prioritized, analyzed and deployed.

Here's a simple example. We know the number one success factor for any people-dependent change program is active and visible sponsorship—sponsors are a core role in any change. So, I'm going to ask sponsors to undertake certain activities to help drive that change throughout the organization.

Now multiply that by 10, 20, 50 programs, all of which depend upon the sponsor undertaking certain activities to execute their ABCs of sponsorship. Very soon the sponsor is expected to spend 150 hours a week just doing their ABCs for these 10, 20, 50 programs, which is impossible, of course.

And so, with enterprise change management, we practitioners are necessarily thinking about what the priorities are among all those projects and programs. Can other people sponsor them? Can we integrate some of the activities across the program? And ultimately, how do we prioritize these?

The only people who can prioritize these projects are the sponsors. In other words, the people who made a promise to the organization that this investment would yield a business benefit. Only they can make the promise and ensure that the organization delivers on it. They do that by recognizing that the return on investment for a people-dependent project and program comes from speed of adoption, ultimate utilization and proficiency. That, in turn, depends on sponsor actions as well as actions by people managers and possibly by other extended roles.Contributors to Success Over Time-2023

Enterprise Change Management
in a Nutshell

When you prioritize which programs to do when, in a consistent manner, systematically deploying change management across the organization as its own “project,” you're doing enterprise change management.

Of course, Prosci gives us tools to analyze the change management maturity of organizations. Using the Change Management Maturity Model, we have five levels starting at 1 and going up to five, with Level-5 organizations having the highest likelihood of success. And in Level-5 organizations, change management is an organizational competency—something that is always done, and where managing the people-dependent change program is a natural part of what the organization does.

Prosci Change Management Maturity Model


Change Management
is a New Skill for Leaders

And so, what’s the “WIIFM” or “What's in it for me” takeaway about change management in terms of both individual projects and enterprise change management initiatives? Well, it's good for individual projects. It's good for prioritizing between and among projects. It’s likely to be a new skill for leaders, and even more so for people managers. And finally, if enough people in the organization do it, it can become an organizational competency. When change management does become an organizational competency, that's when you can properly manage change.



Al Lee-Bourke

Al Lee-Bourke

Al Lee-Bourke is the former Principal Consultant for Microsoft’s Adoption and Change Management Global Practice. Based near Glasgow, Scotland, he uses the Prosci Methodology to enable IT productivity, enhance adoption and usage of key technologies, coach leaders and teams, and more. Al is a Prosci Certified Advanced Instructor, Prosci Experienced Practitioner, and Director of the Scotland Association of Change Management Professionals. He is also an avid YouTuber and author of two books: "Change Management Field Guide: How it works & tips for doing it" and "What They Don't Teach You at Change Management School: From Theory to Practice and Everything in Between."

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