4 Change Management Trends In 2020

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It was refreshing to read the 4 Change Management Trends in 2020 by Tim Creasey, Chief Innovation Officer at Prosci.

I wonder if you are seeing the same four trends that the 1,778 change practitioners told Prosci?

1.    Greater awareness and support

Since 2007, Prosci reports that the top trend has been greater understanding of the value of change management and a broader acceptance and credibility of change management as a discipline.

In my experience, this greater awareness and support is a real slow burner. 

Prosci says that “executives now have a greater understanding of their role in change and a strong desire to be active and visible sponsors”, but this is not my experience.

I am more than pleased to see that this is reported as an upward trend as we move towards 2020 but a serious amount of education and meaningful conversations need to be undertaken over the next 2 years so that organisational change management is not seen as a ‘nice-to-have’ and is the next thing to be cut out of the budget after the scheduled training gets cut!

2.    Broader and more frequent application

This is a trend that warms the cockles of my heart. The Prosci participants observed:

·      Larger numbers of employees engaged in change management

·      Focus on building change management capability across all levels of the organisation

·      Use of change management on informal changes

·      Change management as a requirement instead of an option

It is the first two points that really excite me and reflect what I am seeing. I am observing many change management practitioners working seriously hard to build and develop a change management competency across all levels of the organisation. 

In a world in which change is constant, fast and unrelenting, the management of the people side of change cannot be left to a select few. Change has to be everyone’s business.

This is where I think change management practitioners really need to focus now as more organisations are delivering continual change in an iterative fashion. 

We need a true change management network that grows organically up, down and across the organisation. Being a change champion (or agent) is more than just being given a lanyard that says ‘I’m A Change Champion’!



The role of the change management practitioners is to provide the change network with the skills and capabilities they need to be effective change coaches. The change coaches need to help build, maintain and sustain a workforce that is resilient to constant change. Now is the time to stop talking about resistance to change and start talking about change resilience.

In the Prosci 2018 research, 75% of the participants reported the integration of change management with project management.

Whilst Prosci attribute this to project managers recognising the critical role change management plays in project success, I also see this as a direct result of increasing adoption of agile practices.

Change practitioners themselves are seeing an increasing need to be an integral part of agile projects. They cannot operate the same way as they did on waterfall deliveries when change outcomes, dates, impacted stakeholders, etc. where all known upfront. 

On agile delivery, anything can change at any time and therefore change practitioners have to be entrenched in the project team and be capable of changing direction and adapting to shifting outcomes as needed.

3.    Increase in change management maturity

The 2018 research reports a 6% increase in the number of permanent change management jobs since 2011 with participants expecting this to continue to grow. Prosci states that this 6% increase also refers to the development of a Change Management Office (CMO) or other dedicated functional group solely focused on change management work.

This is a great trend and I believe that this is the only way organisations will be able to successful deliver change management.

The CMO, containing the change management practitioners, needs to be dedicated to building a resilient organisation through a network of equipped change coaches that ensure the health and wellbeing of the workforce.

The CMO creates the strategy for a resilient workforce and the coaches deliver that strategy throughout the organisation. The coaches are our sponsors of constant change.

4.    Greater need for education and training

The Prosci research revealed an increase in education and training and participants expecting this desire for knowledge to continue.

I think the focus will need to be on equipping all of those involved in change management, through education and training, with the tools they need to be effective in an agile world.

When outcomes are unclear, delivery dates uncertain, impacted stakeholders somewhat unpredictable; the days of hefty and approved change management strategies and plans written in stone are gone. 

Change management practitioners and coaches need plans that are fluid, accessible, simple, transparent, evocative and relevant – FASTER!


© Karen Ferris 2018

Change management plans need to be able to be continually changed and adapted just as agile iterations will continue to change as the business drivers will change.


So great trends being noted by the Prosci research and I agree with Prosci that these are exciting times for the change management profession. 

My concern is that many change management practitioners are not yet ready for the onslaught that is the world of constant change. If we do not get on the front foot now, the change management discipline in many organisations will be seriously disrupted and we will not be able to build, maintain and sustain the resilient workforce needed if the organisation, and those within it, are to thrive.

So, a call to all change management practitioners – the time is now! How are you going to construct and support a workforce that is resilient in the face of constant change?

Karen FerrisComment