Debunking Change Management Myths – Part I


Just like any other profession, change management is full of myths resulting from misleading assumptions. In this blog, we would like to review some of them and invite our readers to reflect with us. We hope that our perspective can contribute to the growth of this fantastic profession.


Myth #1: A change management strategy and plan can be developed in isolation

The first of our change management myths assumes that the person creating the change strategy/plan is the only one with the knowledge. Then, it is not required to involve your audience in your planning process.

Alternative perspective: Involving your audience will help you find new and better ways to manage the change. We suggest you use agile techniques such as the “Change Canvas” to plan for your change with those people impacted by it. This will help you know what to do and create engagement. (Contact us if you want to learn more about the Change Canvas.)


Myth #2: Lengthy and complex deliverables are a sign of good change management

If you have ever worked for a large consulting firm, you will know what we are talking about here. The assumption is that the more complex and elaborate the document, the better it is and the more value it will deliver to the client.

Alternative perspective: While clients should expect you to have methodological rigor, they will get confused with too much detail. It is okay for your documentation (e.g., power slides, spreadsheets, word documents, etc.) to be light, easy to understand, and actionable.


Myth #3: Change managers are the sole executors of the change plan

This assumption can be summarized as “each one to their own.” That is, “change managers should be concerned with training and communications,” “project managers should take care of the technical activities such as configuration and testing,” “sponsors should attend steering committee meetings,” etc.

Alternative perspective: A change manager’s mandate cannot be fulfilled without the rest of the project team members (i.e., sponsors, project manager, business analysts, developers, others). For instance, a strong project manager can create a good plan, an active sponsor can communicate the changes and remove roadblocks, a savvy business analyst or technical SME can help with training design, and so on. Conversely, other members of the team will need a change manager’s help. For instance, during User Acceptance a project manager could use a change manager’s perspective to run an effective session.


Myth #4: People are, by nature, resistant to change

We described this change management myth in a previous article. In brief, there is a myth in the change literature and the common knowledge that people don’t like change and are resistant to it. There are individual psychological models that are oftentimes extrapolated to organizations used to explain this (e.g., “the valley of despair”).

Alternative perspective: In our opinion, resistance is a function of how we show up to others and not something “inside” a person’s head or a personality trait. There is quite a bit of evidence of this in the Family Therapy and Systems Theory research.


Read the second part of this blog: Debunking change management myths – Part II


Do you recognize any other myth regarding change management? Share them with us in the comments!

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