"Change management" means all kinds of things to different people, but almost everyone agrees: whatever it means, it's pretty important. And while that agreement is good, in order to identify tasks and systematically pursue the ideal, we need a working definition.


In the most literal sense, of course, "change management" means identifying the difference between what is and what should be, and helping to move an organization across the gap between them.


But to many, the term has become synomyous with two particular activities in the context of an organizational change: communications and training.  And those are usually important and time-consuming initiatives.  But when considered by themselves, they raise a number of key questions, including:

  • What do we really want people to do?
  • What will it take for people to do what we want them to do?
  • If we communicate with them and train them and they still don't do what we want, what then?


To further complicate the question: Not only do we all define change management differently, but not everyone uses that term in the first place.


A decade or so ago, Accenture confronted the issue of what to call this thing when it changed the name of its Change Management competency group from "Change Management" to "Human Performance".  The name change was an indicator that the term "change management" may not precisely describe what most "change management" efforts do.  But the term is deeply entrenched.  Many of our customers use RFP forms that include a category called "Change Management", evidence that the term is still common for many of us.


And that includes Ariba.  We have had a Change Management practice in our consulting business for the better part of a decade.  We grew, as many such groups do, from a training organization into one that sees training as only one (albeit a significant) means to achieving the REAL goals of user adoption, performance, and success.  But to call ourselves "user adoption, performance, and success" is convoluted and still somewhat unclear.


Nonetheless, as mentioned before: while both the meaning of the term and the specific scope it entails are in question, everybody agrees that the topic is really important.


So I'll attempt to make the starting points for this discussion as clear as I can by asking:

1) What do you call the part of your project, or the elements of your business, particularly with regard to the implementation of a new technology or practice, that are tasked with getting your people to do what you want them to do; and

2) What do you do in order to get people to do what you want? What are the constituents of your initiative (whatever you call it): communications, training, support, other? How do you approach a change? How do you make and execute plans to achieve the behaviors you want? How many people do you assign to a task? Do you use a certain methodology?


Our own Change Management team (if we decide to continue calling it that) will be sharing some ideas soon, and in fact we already have a number of articles here on the topic (search on tag change_management). But for now, we're interested to hear what you do and what you call it.


Let's share some ideas and experiences.