Putting your client in the driver’s seat: change management from a consultant’s perspective. 

The summer is coming to an end. It’s been a busy one for me, but in the midst of client deadlines and family vacation, I am quite proud of having taken some time to complete the PROSCI change management certification. 


As a consultant I have been practicing change management for a number of years and have ended up putting together my own change toolkit: a mixture of theoretical concepts taken from my university days and best practices garnered from field work. 

My objective in taking the certification was to tie everything together in a robust industry recognized framework. At Boreala we have team members that are certified and there is widespread interest for the framework. Thus, it was with the organizational blessing but a little hesitant that I headed to the three-day intensive certification retreat. I was hesitant mainly because I wondered how this notion of “human aspect of change” was integrated or rather scaled to an organizational capacity to change. 


I loved it. 


The learning experience was challenging and intense but oh so pertinent. It also answered a lot of my questions on organizational change. 


Note that there is no affiliation to PROSCI here, so it is all just my unbridled enthusiasm. 


In no particular order, here are some rapid-fire responses to why I loved it: 


ADKAR: I went into this training wondering how scalable it was to look at change just from an individual perspective and not an organizational one. PROSCI frames organizational change as the sum of individual changes and Change Management as a competency and capability for the organization to develop. 

Individual changes go through a five-step process: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement (ADKAR). Such a simple tool. Usable with anyone going through any change.


ADKAR case study: my three-year-old won’t sleep!  

I did the mental exercise of evaluating why my three-year-old was unwilling to embrace the change of sleeping through the night without coming to wake mum and dad. Turns out his Awareness level is a 5/5 but the Desire piece still needs a lot of work. This means I am stuck: I obviously can’t move to the Knowledge or Ability step if he just doesn’t want to cooperate. Enter the resistance management tools. What had I not been doing to increase his level of desire? Turns out I was not providing clear consequences and then enforcing them. I did, and it works.


The tools: While it is indeed a framework that closely resembles others one might find on the market (think of Lewin’s unfreeze-Change-Refreeze or Kotter’s Create climate – Engage and enable – Implement and sustain), it is enriched with a very comprehensive set of tools. 

These tools lie on a continuum from the strategic (assessment of the change impacts and risks), to the tactical (planning and execution) to the operational (evaluating and sustaining the change). This combination of tools on a continuum makes it really easy for the change manager (whether internal or consultant) to put the managers affected by the change in the driver’s seat through a planning and coaching process. 


Putting the client in the driver’s seat: A core principle for projects at Boreala has always been a deep collaboration with clients with a focus on knowledge transfer. As there are very clear and useful role definitions in the framework, it supports this collaborative approach in our project delivery. Furthermore, it helps frame difficult conversations as each role brings specific value to a project (think how important it is to get your sponsor engaged and visible). Once this understanding is integrated in the organization, well it remains long after we have left. 


A common language: Ask ten practitioners what change management is and they will give you ten definitions and a multiple of tools or frameworks. Picking one that has the theoretical underpinnings, the best-practices research and the actual tools is, I find, a great way to encourage a common language around our change management practice. Of course, it doesn’t stop at PROSCI, however there are enough similarities between approaches that having a preferred one does not create limitations. 


Ultimately, I am interested in change because it is a fact of life, both personal and organizational. Done well, it can be a great source of pride, empowerment, cohesiveness and growth. Personally, I thrive in changing environments, but I have seen first-hand the angst that it can create and the destructiveness that can come when people are pushing back for reasons that are very legitimate for them. I am really pleased to have this framework and tools to add to my practitioner toolkit as we continue to grow this exciting change management service offering. 


Do you manage your three-year-old with change management tools? What approach does your organization use? 


About the Author

Bibigi has been interested in all things change from a very young age. Growing up in an expatriate family, she quickly got used to packing up and changing schools, houses, friends and countries every few years. As a management consultant, she takes the insights acquired from those years on the road, pressure tests them against change management theories and uses all this to help clients navigate change within their own organizations. 

Bibigi Haile

Senior Consultant