Change Management Office is the new Queen’s Gambit

Change Management can sometimes be seen like playing a game of chess. How you can take control of a very complex situation where stakeholders are moving fast, and sometimes with unexpected moves. We can see lots of organisations building Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) to drive a sustainable transformation journey, and most of them understood the importance of integrating a Change Management Office (CMO). But why is this so important, and what are the key benefits you can gain from this new Change Center of Excellence (CoE)?

The world is changing fast, but we can still see sometimes old stereotypes, old processes, or old behaviours in some organisations, and everybody needs to move together to a new journey. Can you imagine that women were not allowed to compete in the World Chess Championship until the 1980s? And it is the move of the Hungarian player Judit Polgár who became the youngest chess grand master in history at just 15 years old in 1991, who helped to transform things, to acting as a Change Agent? How? She refused to play in women’s tournaments, instead going up against and beating the best male chess players of her time. Until that point, the word “men’s” had been in the name of the chess events, but she worked to replace that title with “open” and base the tournament’s eligibility on skill rather than gender. This is about change, this is about bringing people towards the right journey. Here are our top 5 tricks to start your CMO tactic.

What does the CMO bring to your organisation?

The main objective is to own and maintain the change management methodology and tools in one centralised place. This centralised office will be helpful to provide consultative support to project teams, and to provide change management resources on specific programs or projects. Furthermore, it will be a fantastic opportunity to maintain a change management community of practice (CoP), so that the team continue to grow in terms of skills and shape their efforts towards the right interventions. This CMO will gather all kind of change management curriculums and will facilitate unified dashboards and centralised view of change management efforts: that is the easy way to track all change management progress on programs/projects. Finally, this will centralise all your change management resources in one place, instead of getting them split across all services, which will help you to track and manage your change portfolio and agenda.

Which kind of shape should your CMO take?

We usually find 3 different kinds of CMO organisations:

  • Centralised CMO
  • Decentralised CMO
  • Hybrid CMO model

Which one fits you better? It will depend on a few criteria like the geographic distribution of your company, the cultural background, the hierarchy and sponsorship model, the repartition of change management resources (where are they coming from), and legacy of historical change measures (what worked well before).

Which maturity level do you want to achieve with your CMO?

There are four levels in maturity of CMO, and you will need to select which level you want to achieve:

  • Level 0 – no CMO
    • Change management is not or inadequately applied at your organisation
    • No formal change management structure and tools
    • No common change management language or application
  • Level 1 – Initial CMO
    • Change management competencies within CMO only
    • Standards and tools selected, and used on some projects
    • Initial governance model developed (few projects/few elements)
    • Change management used on some projects
  • Level 2 – Maturing CMO
    • Change management competencies in all streams
    • Standards and tools are used on all change management projects
    • Change management model further developed (more projects/more elements)
    • Experience is shared, and best practice is created / change management used on many products
  • Level 3 – Advanced CMO
    • High level of change management competency for all roles
    • Standards and tools are fitted to your organisation
    • Complete governance model developed and implemented
    • Change management is integrated with Program/project Management
    • Change management is used on all important projects

Where should CMO be located?

CMO is usually located where all your key projects and programs are organised, in most places they are located centrally. Most of the time it sits within the EPMO (Enterprise Project Management Office). But there are other options where it could make sense as well, like within the HR or IT department, or within some specific Business Units. We also have seen it within a dedicated Strategy or Transformation entity. The most important factor is to take the decision if it sits across your entire organisation, being able to reach out to all your verticals and horizontals. And this CMO should have easy access to projects, and located where it is easier to build reputation, credibility, and respect. From the selected location, there will be opportunities to facilitate alignment on purpose and on culture. Also, the closer you are from the C-levels, the better it is, since sponsorship will be a key aspect to be considered.

How to start?

While setting up your CMO, it is important you

  • Identify maturity level to achieve
  • Define the Change management roadmap
  • Start identifying, choosing, and owning the methodology and processes

In second stage, you will be able to

  • Establish governance model
  • Provide support for projects

And on a late stage, you will be able to

  • Map contract requirements and projects to CM artefacts
  • Initiate CM portal / SharePoint site

According to a recent study from CMI, in 2017 only 40% of the organisations had CMO or functional group, and nearly half of the study participants reported CMOs/functional groups of between 2 and 5 employees.

So, if you haven’t started already, play tactical like chess, anticipate the next moves of your stakeholders before it is too late, and sacrifice a bit of your time to be able to build long-term capabilities. Like Garry Kasparov said ‘’Question the status quo at all times, especially when things are going well. “

Johan Lequien, Head of Change, Maltem Australia