Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.


Where should Change Management reside in an Org Structure?

This excellent question was posed on LinkedIn today.  Of course there is no single answer – it must be custom. Key factors include:

  • How much change is your organization facing in the next 3-5-10 years?
  • What kinds of change? Will your people have to think and behave differently? Role change, technology change, process change, all of above?
  • How many changes? One big bang (sprint), several moderate bangs spread out (marathon), on-going transformational change?
  • How large is your organization? 1 location, National, Global?
  • How is your organization structured today? chain of command, matrixed, finance driven, product driven, functional driven, etc. Is this changing?
  • What is the change culture like? Is change a part of the culture, is there change resilience?
  • Where are the strengths in your leadership team? (requires discussion – per our definition of CM below, CM is multi-disciplinary by its nature and silo-ing weakens the benefits. Basically is there a leader respected enough in the organization for collaboration, who can juggle without default prioritization eg PMO / CM balance, HR / CM implementation balance) Who is ‘driving’ the most change?
  • Candidates could be Head of Strategy, PMO, OD, Business Unit, etc.

I believe there is a distinction between:

  • Organizational Change Management (Mission, Vision, Values, Culture, Capability / Training) and
  • Project Change Management (tactical implementation: raising adoption, proficiency and ultimate utilization) and
  • that these are both required but do not naturally reside in the same place in an org structure

I will also suggest that in some organizations much change is initiated from IT (e.g. ERP) however the real value is generated out of adoption in other departments. The key is engagement and collaboration.

I like Garrett Gitchell’s challenge “no where” but I would say instead “every where”. If an organization faces global, transformational change then I do believe a CM Executive is important with a team that is dispersed, highly matrixed and collaborative – and includes a Centre of Excellence with participation of HR, OD, IT, PMO, etc and is open to any professional to develop these competencies.

Many start with a CM track in a project and use this experience as a platform for learning – please be sure that you retain reputable and experienced practitioners for this. Please ensure that representation from each of the multi-disciplines above are engaged. And please do not make CM subservient to PM. The greatest (very real) risk here is that it is under scoped and under delivered leading to the incorrect assumption that CM does not drive much value.

As an intermediate solution, one might establish a pilot CM group that would allow for trial and learn to customize the right structure for your organization.