Alfaro Consulting

Coaching and Consulting for Nonprofits



Notes from Prosci Change Management Certification

Now that I’ve finished my change management course via Prosci, I am officially a Certified Change Practitioner! These are some of my high-level notes and takeaways from the training.

Alfaro Consulting

Coaching and Consulting for Nonprofits


Key Principles

  • Change is a process.
  • OCM is about “the people side of change.”
  • Individuals before organizations: “If you don’t get things right with individuals, you won’t get them right with the organization.”
  • Applying OCM in projects lowers stress for users over time and contributes to the realization of project ROI.
  • The majority of any project’s success will usually be determined by overall adoption of the change, utilization, and user proficiency. OCM’s overall value is in helping achieve those goals.


ADKAR Model

The ADKAR model is a trademark of Prosci (copyright Prosci, all rights reserved). This is a graphic I created to represent the stages of ADKAR supported by training activities in my current organization.

Stages of Individual Change

ADKAR is an individual change process. OCM practitioners can help ensure individuals are guided through these phases of a change by facilitating change management activities including communication, training, coaching, resistance management, and sponsor engagement.

  • Awareness of the need for change (“I understand why…”)
  • Desire to participate and support change (“I have decided to…”)
  • Knowledge of how to change (“I know how to…”)
  • Ability to implement required skills and behaviors (“I am able to…”)
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change (“I will continue to…”)

ADKAR is a registered trademark of Prosci (Copyright Prosci, all rights reserved). This is a graphic I created to show the alignment of the ADKAR stages with some of the key OCM activities.

*Note to self: ADKAR doesn’t explicitly take into account environmental or organizational culture factors. For example: Someone could have a great deal of knowledge and ability but be in an environment where they do not have access to the resources they need to act on their knowledge and ability, or the organizational culture may be antithetical to change overall, which may put social pressure on the individual not to embrace the change for fear of being ostracized.

ADKAR Self Assessments

When applying the ADKAR self-assessment, note that the first score at a 3 or below is considered the “barrier point.” Change managers should focus efforts on this point before moving on to the other elements of ADKAR. For example: If awareness or desire are missing, focusing OCM efforts on knowledge and ability will be ineffective.

*Note to self: I agree you can’t get people to the desire phase if they don’t have any awareness, but I don’t entirely buy ADKAR as a purely linear model. I think you have to iterate on these stages throughout the life of a project, especially for complex changes. For example: Even if you effectively build awareness and desire in the early part of a project, as people learn how to do something a new way (Knowledge), their resistance sometimes increases, especially if the new way of doing things is complex or significantly different from the old way. This may necessitate additional work to maintain the desire to change in conjunction with the learning activities inherent in the Knowledge phase. 


Change Process

Overall, change is about moving from the current state, through a transition period, to a desired future state. Common questions people have during the transition:

  • What is the future going to be like?
  • Will I like it?
  • Will I be good at doing this new thing?

Prosci’s 3 Phases of Change:

Copyright Prosci


Arguments for Change Management

Ways of Presenting OCM Value to Org Leadership

  • 4 P’s model: Project name, purpose, particulars, people
    • Value Statements: If people don’t change how they do their job, then it doesn’t matter what specific changes are implemented. If people don’t change how they do their job, then we ultimately won’t achieve what we set out to do from the beginning
  • Flight risk model: Mitigating negative consequences e.g. resistance, employees leaving the org, etc
    • You have to expect a decline in productivity and an increase in resistance throughout the life of the project. OCM can mitigate the worst effects of this decline but cannot entirely eliminate this normal curve.
  • Human ROI factors model: Translating change management to financial performance; focus on the direct financial benefits of avoiding productivity loss, turnover, customer impact. Human factors impacting ROI are…
    • Speed of adoption: How quickly are people up and running on the new systems, processes, or job roles?
    • Ultimate Utilization: How many employees are demonstrating buy-in and are using the new solution?
    • Proficiency: How well are individuals performing compared to the level expected in the design of the change?

Business Outcomes of OCM

The combination of effective leadership/sponsorship and project management with change management results in greater project success (meaning projects meet objectives and finish on time/on budget, and ROI for the project is realized). This relationship is represented by Prosci’s “PCT Model.”

Copyright Prosci


Human Factors to Consider During Any Change

Change Fatigue/ Change Saturation

  • Change fatigue is like fog. Users can’t see through it and imagine only negative things on the other side.
  • The amount of work it takes to learn, find information, re-prioritize, etc. has a direct relationship to change fatigue. (i.e. the learning curve)
  • Realistically, people have to prioritize (every change can’t be equally important). It’s the leadership’s job to help set those priorities.


Top Contributors to Successful Change Initiatives

The list is per extensive research conducted by Prosci, and items are ranked in order of importance:

  1. Active and visible executive sponsorship
  2. Structured change management approach
  3. Dedicated change management resources
  4. Integration and engagement with project management
  5. Employee engagement and participation
  6. Frequent and open communication
  7. Engagement with middle managers

Additional notes on #1, 5, 6, & 7 below…

Active and visible executive sponsorship

Vital traits and activities for effective sponsors include:

  • communication skills
  • creates engagement through passion and enthusiasm for the change
  • engaged and involved
  • visible and supportive
  • approachable and available
  • a recognized leader with sponsorship experience

Employee engagement and participation

Copyright Prosci

Frequent and open communication

  • This is the number one thing people say they would do differently/better about a project if they could do it over again.
  • See communication plan and other comm-related OCM templates for more info.

Engagement with middle managers

Managers’ Relationship to Change:

  • Managers are the group that has the most resistance to change in any organization and one of the most critical for the success of change initiatives.
  • Only 15% of the impacted individuals will be able to navigate the change on their own; the rest will need help from their manager.
  • Roles for managers in the change: CLARK: Communicator, Liaison, Advocate, Resistance Manager, Coach

Creating a Coaching Plan for Managers:

  • Enable supervisors and managers to become effective change managers
  • Provide them with the tools and support they need to work with employees

Related Resource: An employees survival guide to change (Book)

*Note to self: This would almost certainly have to be a whole separate project in this environment. Prepping front-line managers for their CM roles would be a major undertaking at scale, so I think it would be more successful to take something this on within the context of a project but to treat it as a separate “sister-project” with robust change-management wrapped around the initiative.


Resistance Management

Top reasons for employee resistance

  • Lack of awareness of why a change is needed
  • Change-specific resistance
  • Change saturation (i.e. change fatigue)
  • Fear
  • Lack of support from management or leadership

Top reasons for manager resistance

  • Organizational culture
  • Lack of awareness and knowledge about the change
  • Lack of buy-in (i.e. desire)
  • Misalignment of project goals and personal incentives
  • Lack of confidence in their own ability to manage the people side of change

Managing resistance

  • Principle: Encourage resistance early. Consider it feedback.
  • Three phases of resistance management:
    • Resistance prevention
    • Proactive resistance management
    • Reactive resistance management

*Note to self: I think that waiting until the critical decisions about the change have been made (e.g. what exactly to change, when to change) and then engaging in resistance management is a mistake. Involving stakeholders in the decision-making process about the change in the first place is one of the best ways I’ve seen to prevent a great deal of resistance from the beginning.


Measuring Change Management Effectiveness

Specific metrics will always change per the goals and objectives of the individual project, but some general criteria for evaluating success include:

  • Adoption metrics – Example: % adoption and utilization per specific objectives of the project.
  • Qualitative/feedback metrics – Example: Survey collecting employee feedback before and after the change.
  • Employee performance – Example: Proficiency in work activities related to the change.
  • Overall project performance – Example: Project completed on time and on budget.
  • Readiness assessments – Example: ADKAR self-assessments conducted throughout the change initiative.

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