Organizational Change Management – Why do PMs keep forgetting?

One of the biggest failures project managers experience when executing their projects stems from the lack of understanding of Organizational Change Management (OCM). Sadly, it’s true. When we see projects fail over and over, often we see problems in the same two areas:

  1. Project communications
  2. Organizational Change Management (OCM)

Would you agree?

Let me ask you a couple of Yes/No questions to make the point.


 Is there a formal OCM lead on your project today?

 Does your company have a formal OCM framework?

 Do your executives or leadership ask you about the impact your project is having on the people who are touched by proposed changes?

 Do you include OCM in your status meetings?

 Does your development or project management methodologies have OCM built into them?

Ok. Now let’s score one point for every question you answered Yes to and zero points for every question for which you said No.

What’s your total? Use this scoring table below to rate your company’s OCM score.

Score Description
0 Not good. Your company needs to start focusing on the importance of OCM.
1 Still not good. Your company knows about OCM, but isn’t doing anything about it.
2 Getting there! Now we are starting to see some OCM maturity.
3 Better! We see some traction towards OCM and the importance, but we are still at the beginning.
4 Good! You guys believe in the importance of OCM, but could be at an even better place.
5 WOW! Do your projects ever fail? Good job. Clearly, your company believes in OCM.

What was your score? Do you have work to do, or did you knock it out of the park? I have some guesses about how your company scored, but don’t worry, this is just between you and me. I won’t tell anyone!

I know the quiz was just for fun, but your result should get you thinking about the importance of OCM and the role it plays on projects. Obviously, the lower the score, the worse off your company is at doing OCM. You have to do something about that, or you will continue to struggle on your projects.

How does one resolve? 

Well, there is no easy answer this, but if I could give you any advice, I would say follow these tips:

  1. Understand the different Organizational Change Management models. You don’t have to master them all, but knowing at least one or two of them helps you get going in the right direction. I would highly recommend you starting with www.prosci.com ADKAR model. I have used for years and it is amazing. 
  2. Know the OCM frameworks and follow them. Don’t wing this. You are impacting people’s lives with these changes, and it’s something that you have to take very seriously.
  3. Focus on the people first, and the process second. This is so important! The only way that you are going to be successful is when you get adoption from the people impacted by the changes you propose.
  4. Know that people accept changes at different rates and some people take a lot longer than others. Understand, embrace, and work with that fact to help everyone through the change!
  5. Obtain executive support. Before beginning any project, you need executive support for the changes the project will have on the people. Without executive support, you are never going to be a success, so don’t even try until you have this in place!

What do you think?

I hope these tips help. As PMOs and Project Managers, if we work together and continue to push the importance of Organizational Change Management, I think it will go a long way in delivering successful projects!I’d like to hear from you. If you like this article, you are going to love this one. Have a read ADKAR  – How to Implement Successful Change in Our Personal Lives and Professional Careers!

Comment below!

Bill Dow, PMP

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Bill Dow, a PMP-certified expert in Project Management Offices (PMOs), has co-authored books on the subject. With over 20 years of teaching experience and having built 10 PMOs across 4 companies.

1 thought on “Organizational Change Management – Why do PMs keep forgetting?”

  1. Great article, Bill. OCM is such a huge part of my programs and projects regardless of the organization I work for. As a consultant, I have seen how different companies address OCM. Often is left to the PM to figure out and deal with. It can be particularly challenging when the PM is new to the PMO/organization.
    As the article points out, OCM impacts people’s lives and is of great importance. While I may not see a lot of formalized OCM in some organizations, this is something, that as a PM I can help bring attention to and change.
    Thank you for an excellent, thought & action provoking article, Bill!

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