Change Success vs Project Success: What's the difference?

benefits change leadership change management organisational change project management project success projects return on investment value Sep 13, 2022
Lata in front of green trees smiling; text: change success vs project success: what's the difference?

Most Change Management occurs in the project space, so it's easy to assume that Change success and Project success are the same thing. 



They're not. 


In a nutshell, Project Management is focused on delivery of the "thing" (be it a new process, system, product, service, team structure etc) by managing scope, budget, time and quality to realise the business case.


So Project Managers tend to measure project success as: a) delivery, and b) meeting the business case. 


The business case is usually something along the lines of:

  • make money
  • save money
  • save time

And occasionally: because we have to (otherwise known as "compliance", but really falls into the above buckets because companies can get fined, have to provide payouts, or lose brand trust or maybe even their license to operate if they don't do it).

A business case is designed to get a budget signed off and prove there will be a return on investment so it makes sense these are what most "business case benefits" ultimately refer to.


So what about Change success?

Change Management is focused on helping people feel informed, inspired, confident, and ready to understand, adopt, use and embed that "thing" to realise the business benefits.

Obviously, we also care about reaching the business case benefits. Change Management is an approach where we balance people and results. It's not one or the other.

Where the difference occurs is the more holistic and expanded view of what we include in "results".


We measure Change success with adoption - are people actually using it?

We measure Change success with embedding - are people going to keep using it and is the business going to keep this change updated and improving in the future (after all, if there's one thing we know, it's that things change!)?

We measure Change success with overall transformation - the way we positively impact the experiences and lives of employees, customers, clients, shareholders, and community. 


I always think about that old adage: "If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?" 


We could ask the same about a project: If a project delivers its solution and there's no one around to learn it, love it, use it, and extract value from it, was there a point in doing the project at all?


Delivery for the sake of delivery is not success. 

Everything we do in this world is for people.


And the vision we create of a bright and positive future because of our efforts. 

That's how we measure success in Change.


If you'd like to learn how to set Inspirational Change Visions, set and track change measures, and set projects and businesses up for Change success, come join me in my Leading Successful Change program. 


CLICK HERE to find out more about Leading Successful Change


Lata xx

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