6th Edition PMBOK® Guide—The Relationship between Project Management and Change Management

I am starting a project of going through the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide and blogging about its contents.    The 6th Edition was released on September 22nd by the Project Management Institute, and the first chapter is a general introduction to the framework in which project management exists, starting with section 1.2 Foundation Elements (section 1.1 describes the purpose of the Guide).

In section 1.2.1, PMI introduces the definition of projects (discussed in the previous two posts) and it is then immediately followed by this bold statement:

“Projects drive change”

This is a declaration that a project manager is, almost by the very nature of what he or she is doing, also a change agent!

The reason why this statement leaped out of the page for me was that I had just been just recently discussing the subject with Elizabeth Allen, a project manager in the PMO at Nemours Children’s Health System for 12 years who has been leading change efforts for +25 years.  She is preparing a presentation for the PMI Global Conference to be held in Chicago in late October 2017 (next month).    The title of her talk is “Becoming a Holistic Agent of Change.”  In it she describes some of the theoretical models of how organizations process change, but she also recounts some of the personal experiences she had on a recent project involving change of a hospital system.   The statement she made that struck me was that every project manager is automatically a change agent, and managing the resistance to change is part of what makes a project manager effective in his or her job.

Although what she said I thought was intuitively true, I didn’t realize that PMI would be stating it at the very beginning of the new PMBOK® Guide!   In the section describing the relationship between project and change management, PMI announced that it has published its own guide to change management called “Managing Change in Organizations:  A Practice Guide.”   In terms of knowledge areas in the PMBOK® Guide, the biggest impact a greater understanding of change management would have for a project manager is probably in the area of Stakeholder Management (Chapter 13).  This is because many stakeholders within the organization will be the source of resistance to a project for the simple reason that is does represent change to that organization.   This is probably more true for internal projects whose objectives are to change the business processes of the organization rather than external projects that are done for customers.

So in this section, PMI makes explicit the relationship between project management and change management, and it puts “skin in the game” by announcing its own change management guide.    It also put the fire of ambition into me, as I now want to study change management after I finish studying for and passing the Project Management Professional exam!



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