Reading the fine print and trying to make sense out of “Change Management”?   Looking for a concise definition and overview?  Here is a document you might not be familiar with:  “Statement of Change Management: Scope, Knowledge Areas, and Process Groups” published March 31, 2012 by the ACMP® (Association of Change Management Professionals).   The ACMP is a global membership organization, formed in 2011, whose purpose is to advance the discipline of change management.  The “Statement of Change Management” document is highly condensed and is an excellent place to start.  Below, we will touch on the documents’ highlights.  For more detailed descriptions and examples, we encourage you to check out the entire document.



“ACMP defines change management to be the application of knowledge, skills, abilities, methodologies, processes, tools, and techniques to transition an individual or group from a current state to a desired future state, such that the desired outcomes and/or business objectives are achieved.”

ChangeIsCertain Translation:  In order to reach the desired outcomes, take a systematic, disciplined, two pronged  approach to implementing change:    1) identify major “barriers” that obstruct adoption of the New Ways and remove them  2) identify change “accelerators” that increase the speed of adoption of the New Ways and implement them.

In addition to their definition above, the ACMP includes several important clarifications:

“ACMP’s definition assumes that the organization has agreed upon the need for change and has identified the nature of the change.”

“Change management is an integral part of the overall change process and ideally begins at the onset of change. “

 “Change management processes, when properly applied, ensure individuals within an organization efficiently and effectively transition through change such that the organization’s goals are realized.” 

ChangeIsCertain Translation:  these clarifications stress the importance of making sure that:  1) the change initiative/change in strategy being pursued has already been approved and tested and has the support of the Executive Committee, 2) that an effective change management program is pursued proactively at the beginning of the change process rather than pursued reactively downstream.

Additionally, from a scope perspective, the ACMP recognizes that being skilled in change management processes is necessary but not sufficient for success; i.e. Change management professionals must show-up with their own complimentary leadership, interpersonal, communication, and emotional intelligence  skills, in order to:

” …navigate complex political environments, geographic and organization cultures, work at multiple levels within an organization and engage many different types of personalities in the workplace”.


“Process groups are assemblies of similar or related processes that serve as guides for the application of change management knowledge, skills, and abilities during a change management engagement.  They are linked in the sense that the output or result of one process becomes the input of another process.  Processes within each group are iterative, sometimes simultaneous, and may be applied multiple times throughout the phases of a change management effort.”

The ACMP document calls out 5 “process groups” which represent the lifecycle of change management’s involvement in a particular implementation process.  (These 5 process groups draw upon the 16 knowledge and skill areas in the following section.)

(For detailed descriptions please refer to the ACMP “Statement of Change Management” document.)


“ACMP recognizes that [the 16] knowledge, skills, and abilities shown … are unique and critical to the discipline of change management and are therefore are within the scope of its recognition and certification programs.”

(For detailed descriptions please refer to the ACMP “Statement of Change Management” document.)



While not called out by the ACMP,  the effectiveness of change management can be significantly increased or decreased based upon the nature of the change, the structure under which it must operate, the culture in which it must operate, etc.   John Kotter, in his November 2012 article “Accelerate!”,   has the following to say about the benefits and limitations of change management when operating within a low risk, hierarchal structure:

“Change management typically relies on tools–such as diagnostic assessments and analyses, communications techniques, and training modules–that can be invaluable in helping with episodic problems for which here are relatively straightforward solutions, such as implementing  a well-tested financial reporting system.”

Kotter goes on to describe a different structure, “dual operating system” that picks up where traditional change management leaves off.



Change management is a systematic approach for dealing with large scale changes.  It erupted onto the scene in the 1980′s as a successful means for reducing the failure rate of rapid, large scale business changes and has continued to evolve ever since.  Currently, it is in the process of being “legitimized” and codified as a professional discipline through the efforts of the ACMP.  While interdependent with one another,  Strategy Execution, Change Management, and Project Management are separate and distinct disciplines.  For large scale strategy changes, it is vital that all three disciplines work in concert with one another since none are substitutes for one another.  It is important to remember that many macro variables  can impact the effectiveness of a change management effort including the personal skills and experience of the change management professionals, the nature of the change, the organizational structure, the cultural norms of the organization, etc.



“Statement of Change Management: Scope, Knowledge Areas, and Process Groups” published March 31, 2012 by the ACMP®

“Accelerate!”  John Kotter, Harvard Business Review November 2012