Is Change Management IN your Team or ON it?

Is that a Project Management activity or a Change Management activity?

This was the question put to me recently by an IT Project Manager as we prepared for the re-launch of a critical ERP module at a Business Unit of a major corporation. The team was primarily made up of experienced IT Professionals. As an innovation, and in response to previous implementation stumbles, one Team Member had been assigned from HR, in order to add Change Management capability to the team. We were in the early stages of defining her role.

At first the question had me stumped. Then after taking a step back I began to understand where the question was coming from.

The PM’s question, as well as the team’s structure, was based on the principle of having Change Management ON the team. However to be truly successful in bringing about change in an organization we need to think about Change Management being IN the team.


The difference here is making sure that ALL members of the team have a certain level of Change Management capability. While teams can certainly benefit from having a dedicated Change Management SME or specialist, or a PM experienced in Change Management, training the whole team on these tools and skills increases the project’s chances of success dramatically. This is especially true for an IT project when a large group of users is going to be directly affected.

With Change Management IN the team, each team member would have aptitude in the following areas, among many others:

  • Observing behaviors and proactively identifying signs of resistance to change

  • Applying change models & tools to clarify the underlying reasons for these behaviors

  • Making deliberate interventions with people to understand and help them overcome their resistance to change

Additionally, the team member should have a deep appreciation of change as a journey, not as an event or series of events, as experienced by individuals with the organization.

Having Change Management Capability IN the team:

  • Effectively leverages the Change Management capabilities of the organization

  • Ensures that all team members share responsibility for managing the human side of change

  • Integrates Change Management deep into Project Management and Execution

So is it Project Management or Change Management? My answer to his question is yes! And yes!

Philip Croome

Philip has more than twenty years of consulting experience, focusing on improving processes to drive improvements in cost and cash flow performance. His industry experience includes energy (upstream, oilfield services, offshore drilling, and pipelines), as well as industrial services, technology, professional and healthcare services.