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Bill Wilder Learning is Change blog

Communities of Practice and Change Management: Part 2

In my last post I introduced communities of practice as a tool for change management. Today I’d like to go deeper and share specific ways CoPs can help companies become more change-agile. 

The Prosci Change Management Maturity Model (CMMM) measures how mature organizations are in managing change.  By mature, I mean how much companies have institutionalized change management as a philosophy and structured practice.

The model uses a scale from one to five, with five representing the highest level of change management maturity. At this stage, enterprises have fully integrated change management across the organization. At the other end of the scale are companies just starting to incorporate CM on a project by project basis. Prosci calls the process of moving toward change management maturity Enterprise Change Maturity, or ECM.  

Communities of practice can help companies move along this scale toward greater change management maturity.  

Let’s look at this in more detail. In Level 3 of the CMMM, companies start to integrate structured change management practices organically with project management. This integration is still basically ad hoc, but the two processes are no longer totally separate.  

In Level 4, change management starts to be integrated consciously with project management. At this point, it’s common to see a core group of people coalesce who have become experts on change management. On the CMMM, this is called a “super user group.” Sharing resources and best practices, they often act across corporate silos and outside traditional business organizational units.

This sounds an awful lot like a community of practice—because it is!

The process of maturing through ECM is exactly the kind of environment that encourages communities of practice to develop. Remember, CoPs can emerge naturally whenever people with a shared domain need to solve a common problem.

The good news is that companies don’t have to wait for CoPs to happen organically. They can organize them proactively at any point in the ECM process. This can speed the company along the scale from 1 to 5.  

The CMMM measures fives capability areas involved in ECM. The chart below outlines examples of tasks and responsibilities that CoPs can support in these areas.

LEADERSHIP Create policies and procedures around CM requirements and application.
APPLICATION Develop a repository of tools, expertise, and resources for managing the people side of change.
COMPETENCIES Deploying training in the common CM methodology at all levels of the organization.
STANDARDIZATION Adopt a standard approach to CM and create standardized tools; establish criteria for applying CM.

Your organization might have other ways a CoP could support each capability area. The point is to think of CoPs as a flexible tool that can short-cut the outcomes of institutionalizing change management.

The British author W. Somerset Maugham wrote, “Life is change; growth is optional. Choose wisely.” I think the old idea of the community of practice is one whose time has come for change management.

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