A definition of Enterprise Change Management (ECM).

Posted by Audra Proctor

And why digital disruption makes it even more essential for your organisation.



A key theme we kept revisiting in a recent blog series on Agile Change Management was how to implement Enterprise Change Management (ECM) in our organisation.

It’s a topic that we have written and blogged about quite a bit in recent times, but we wanted to revisit in this new series – particularly as the topics are inextricably linked. Over the next few weeks we are going to take a closer look at ECM including:

  • Providing a definition of what we believe ECM actually is
  • How to effectively baseline your ECM strategy
  • Why leadership is critical to successful implementation
  • How to kickstart your ECM approach
  • And how to roll it out across your organisation

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In this first blog, we are going to take a look at our ECM definition. 

Organisations are under pressure to change, more than ever before

It appears to us that a majority of organisations believe that they need to change more quickly and more comprehensively than ever before. For larger organisations this is partly being driven by the constant threat of disruption from new, smaller and more agile competitors. This is a trend that was driven initially by innovators in consumer-focused industries – where companies like Uber, Mondo and Stripe have successfully challenged and reinvented existing business models, driven largely by advances in technology and the huge opportunities of scale afforded by the Internet. Which has levelled the competitive playing field.

But it is also increasingly finding its way into business-to-business markets too.

Because of this, words and phrases like “disruption”, “innovation” and “continuous change” are becoming an integral part of the lexicon of modern management. The challenge for organisations – and particularly larger organisations who are incumbents in these markets – is to become as nimble and agile as the competition.

And we believe passionately that ECM in Change Management is a key building block in any strategy designed to meet the challenge.

How ECM offers the capability to respond to the challenge

So, what is ECM? And how exactly does it enable these organisations to take a more agile approach to delivering change in their organisation?

For us ECM is:

A belief that if an organisation is to become agile and responsive to fast-moving competitive, often disruptive, markets then it needs to do more than simply train a small number of project or OD specialists in Change Management. Rather it needs the whole organisation to possess the appropriate skills and tools to help deliver change at the volume, speed and accuracy required.

At its most effective, ECM requires a C-Suite-led effort to build and maintain the capacity of the organisation to change.

Source – Enterprise Change Management: How to Prepare Your Organisation for Continuous Change by David Miller and Audra Proctor. You can download Chapter 1 of the book for free here.

ECM is about “making change everyone’s business” and at its most fundamental level requires that the organisation has:

  • the ability to deliver change across the organization
  • with different people in different places and roles jointly contributing to success
  • a focus on building the capability and the capacity to meet organisational demand
  • whilst doing all of this effectively and at speed, enterprise-wide

If the term ‘Change Management’ refers to the skills, processes and tools used to manage the people aspects of major organisational change, then Enterprise Change Management is about ensuring that Change Management is being applied consistently across the organisation. And, that individuals:

  • have access to the requisite skills to build their own personal change competency
  • can scope and define the change being implemented
  • can analyze the impact and risks of the change on people
  • have access to tools to create plans and actions to help drive successful implementation

If we accept that digital and business model disruption has become the norm for organisations. Then having a competitive lever like ECM, that can boost your company’s ability to respond to the competitive threat, makes it a necessary competency for continued success. 

Why ECM is not the same as organisational agility

One key distinction we are keen to make early in this blog series is the fact that ECM is not the same as organisational agility. Although the two are very closely linked. 

There has been much written about the need for an increased level of agility in the last few years and there is little doubt that it is a key goal for organisations. For example:

  • 94% of organisations surveyed by Deloitte see “agility and collaboration” as critical to their organisational success (although only 6% see themselves as “highly agile today”)
  • McKinsey also found that while less than 10% of organisations have completed an agility transformation, a whopping 75% see organisational agility at either a top or top three priority for them

Agility can be defined as the capability of a company to rapidly change or adapt in response to changes in the market. This could involve the ability to break down organisational silos or a higher focus on risk management as significant enablers to achieving agility. Therefore, improving organisational agility tends to focus on many aspects of an organisation’s culture, technology, operations and processes. In our experience, many organisations that rate their agility as high or moderate also report that they are highly effective at change. In fact, they see it as a driver of agility, not the result.

 So, it seems to us that effective Change Management is a key foundation for agility. Without it, organisational agility simply may not be possible.

Deploying ECM is not easy. But digital platforms are changing the game.  

Having all 6 characteristics in place to deploy ECM is a significant challenge for organisations. But perhaps ironically, digital transformation itself – which is driving so much demand in the change space - also means we are rapidly moving to a world where a Change Management approach supported by digital platforms can achieve ECM far more easily than in the past.

For example, previously, traditional workshop-based models of Change Management training were slow, cumbersome and costly. The model worked when the pace of change was relatively slow, and you had the luxury of long project lead times that included extend planning and roll-out phases that lasted very often for several months or years.

Fast forward to now and timescales are expressed in weeks. Not months and years. And, it takes an entirely different approach to be successful. In this environment, digital change management platforms like our own Roadmap Pro become a key component in your ECM strategy:

  • Allowing your organisation to enable people to move from learning to application quickly and seamlessly
  • Proving the ability to apply processes, tools and virtual coaching immediately in a way that brings the concept of ‘just-in-time’ to life

All combined with the capability to quickly scale activity across functions and geographies at a pace that previously wouldn’t have been possible.

In our next blog in the series we will take a look at how to effectively baseline your ECM strategy - and why the ability to assess both change capacity and demand are critical to your success.




Roadmap Pro can help your organisation benefit from a flexible, people-led approach to organisational change.


If your organisation is looking to put its people at the center of organisational change then you may want to take a closer look at our revolutionary Roadmap Pro platform.

Based on our proven approach it makes it quicker and easier for people to ‘learn-while-doing’ and rapidly builds your organisation's agility to deliver change - in a highly cost effective and scalable way.

Simply visit our website here for more information. 





Tags: engagement, successful change implementation, change practitioner, agile change management, change planning, starting a change project

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