So building on the last two posts – the past and the present

The Future

In response to the fragmentation and the confusion, I see a move towards consolidation and centralisation. I am not overly enthralled with this, but I understand why…it is a corrective action to a confusing time and will reassure those who pay for the change management practice. But ultimately we all pay in one way or another and I hope the price of a central view of Change Management is not too high.

Consolidation and centralisation looks like a move towards accreditation, the establishment of global networked organisations, and an enterprise view of change. Let me unpack those.

Increasingly we will see organisations set a minimum benchmark with the hire / recruitment of accredited change managers. It’s much the same reason as to why you pick a CPA accountant.  It provides reassurance as to the quality of the person who holds the accreditation. Or it should.

Currently Prosci, PCI, CMI, AGPM are the major providers of change management accreditations.  They all do a good job of providing entry into a body of knowledge around change management. What will become problematic though is the expectation that some-body who has done 3- 6 days course-work alone (eg without some form of portfolio review) is considered “match fit”.  Even more problematic is the exclusion of people with 10 years + experience because they don’t have accreditation. But I’m guessing that day will come.

If I had an early career change manager under wing I certainly would be encouraging accreditation, particularly if they don’t have the time or funds to do post graduate study in organisational change. To be fair, there are not that many universities who provide this, so it is a very sensible pathway for some one new to the field.

In a related theme, we see the establishment and development of global professional associations / bodies who seek to provide guidance, leadership and direction in the field of change management. Current examples are ACMP and CMI.  If these bodies can remain agnostic of vendors and open minded about diversity and variety I think this is a positive step. My biggest fear is that these bodies will encourage a “one best way” approach to change management.  And then all the benefits of having such a varied and diverse background are lost. That change managers become reified and rigid in practice is beyond ironic.

At an organisational level, consolidation and centralisation looks like enterprise approaches to change. The establishment of Centres of Excellence, Communities of practice.  The merits of consistency in approach in organisations outweigh the negatives. When organisations have common approaches to the language, models and tools of change it builds a competitive capability.

In an ideal world this will lead to increased change capability at every level – rather than having change management as remarkable in an organisation, it is simply the DNA.  Extend this concept and you are making a case for “change managers” per se to become obsolete.  I hope this is where we are heading, I hope the pace is not too quick; -)

I think we will also see more of the following fields like neuroscience, the use of social media and role of change management in integrating customers and employees in change. Technologies like yammer will increasingly become important to collaborative approaches to change

While this series of posts have been percolating and published, I have been simultaneously running a discussion on the LinkedIn Organisational Change Practitioners Group on The Future of Change Management.  As is often the case with discussions in this group it has been a rich and rewarding dialogue. I was asked to summarise it after the 100th comment. I’ll publish the summary next week!


Dr Jen Frahm – Author of Conversations of Change: A guide to implementing workplace change.


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