Change Management Blog

The 5 Areas That Define Your Organizational Change Capability

December 18, 2023

Talal I. El-Assaad: Specialized Change Management Expertise

Time to Read: 7 Min


The 5 Areas That Define Your Organizational Change Capability

Developing a robust capacity for organizational change brings substantial benefits, yet it's a path often patterned with obstacles. One significant hurdle is tracking an organization's advancement towards its change management maturity. Prosci offers a solution grounded in research and practicality to navigate this challenge effectively.


Prosci Change Management Maturity Model


Drawing on twenty five years of research, the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model acts as a benchmark for assessing how well an organization manages change. 

This model, anchored in five critical pillars of change capability, allows an entity to identify its strengths and opportunities for improvement. Utilizing this framework, organizations can strategically focus on enhancing their change management proficiency in specific areas to elevate their overall maturity.

Let’s delve together in a comprehensive breakdown of each level in the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model, along with specific actions that organizations can undertake to progress to subsequent levels.

We use research findings on maturity levels from Prosci’s Best Practices in Change Management, offering valuable insights into where organizations typically stand and how they can improve their change management practices.


Level 1: Ad Hoc or Absent Change Management

At the first level of the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model, project teams typically lack awareness of Change Management as a formal method for addressing the people aspect of change. In this stage, Change Management is often used reactively, primarily as a response to employee resistance that threatens the success of a project. This approach is generally not proactive or integrated into the initial project planning stages.

At Level 1 of the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model, change management is often reactive, employed as a secondary measure rather than integrated from the project's outset. 

Key characteristics of projects at this level include:

  • Primary focus on technical aspects like funding and scheduling

  • Infrequent and limited communications

  • Reliance on rumors for information dissemination

  • Lack of active and visible executive sponsorship

  • Insufficient change management knowledge among people managers

  • Employee resistance and surprise at changes 

  • Decline in productivity and increase in turnover as changes are implemented. 

This level signifies the need for a more proactive and integrated approach to change management.


Advancing to Level 2 in the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model, organizations should start by investing in change management education and resources. This includes attending training sessions, acquiring change management tools, or consulting with experts in the field. 

Additionally, they should begin applying change management techniques to specific projects, especially those facing resistance, to build experience and showcase the value of structured change management practices.


Level 2: Change Management on Isolated Projects


At Level 2 of the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model, change management practices start to surface sporadically within certain areas of the organization but without a centralized approach. Projects vary significantly in their application of change management techniques, with some effectively managing change and others still at Level 1. 

Key characteristics include:

  • Basic communication planning without substantial sponsorship or coaching 

  • Absence of formal change management training for people managers 

  • Reactive use of change management typically in response to negative events

  • Minimal interaction among project teams using change management, leading to a lack of shared learning and repeated re-learning of basic skills in this domain.


In Level 2 of the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model, change management begins to be more actively applied in projects, particularly when resistance surfaces or as projects approach implementation. This stage sees some isolated projects utilizing change management from their inception, with early efforts in communication planning. However, at this level, change management is not yet fully integrated with project management. Teams on projects employing change management become more aware and informed about its practices. In some cases, advocates for change management play a key role in promoting the integration of Change management with project management methodologies.

  • Start by gathering knowledge on various change management initiatives being used internally. This includes researching best practices in change management. 

  • Establish groups of project teams that apply change management principles. Additionally, efforts should be made to gather and share knowledge and tools across the organization, while celebrating successes in change management.

  • Start building support for change management among executives and senior leaders who are responsible for overseeing multiple projects.


Level 3 Change Management on Multiple Projects


At Level 3, structured change management processes are adopted by specific groups within the organization, but these practices are still not standardized across the entire organization. Characteristics of this level include:

  • Multiple projects employing structured change management processes with varying methodologies.

  • Emergence of excellence in change management & knowledge sharing between teams, although it's limited to certain departments resulting in lack of organizational standards for change management.

  • Increased active involvement from senior leadership in sponsoring change, but no formal, company-wide training programs for change management.

  • Availability of training and tools for project leaders and team members, and resources for people managers to coach employees through change.


In Level 3, change management begins proactively on some projects, though many still resort to it reactively in response to employee resistance during implementation. Teams that effectively manage change are those that incorporate change management into their project management methodologies from the start. This includes the development of communication plans and other change management strategies and plans as integral parts of their initial project framework.


To advance to the next level in the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model, it's crucial to secure executive support for implementing change management across all projects and building change competencies at every organizational level. 

Additionally, selecting and standardizing a common change management methodology for use throughout the organization is essential. This process involves acquiring the necessary tools and training to effectively deploy this chosen methodology across various departments and teams.


Level 4: Organizational Change Management Standards


At Level 4 in the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model, organizations embrace a standard change management approach for all new projects. 

Key characteristics of this level include:

  • Widespread understanding of change management's importance

  • Adoption of a common methodology (there is no one size fits all)

  • Availability of training and tools for key roles 

  • Dedicated roles for supporting change efforts, proactive executive sponsorship, and an expectation of resistance in some projects. 

However, adoption isn't yet universal, and the organization is in the process of enhancing change management skills throughout its structure.


In Level 4, change management is routinely incorporated from the start of a project, with its activities integrated into the planning phase. As projects progress, change management becomes inseparably intertwined with project management. Project teams adhere to both project management and change management milestones, ensuring a cohesive approach to implementing and managing change.


To progress in the Change Management Maturity Model, organizations should establish a formal role or department responsible for effectively deploying, training, and enhancing change management competencies. 

Additionally, it's important to address areas of non-compliance and analyze gaps where the chosen methodology is not being applied, to ensure consistent and effective implementation across the organization.


Level 5: Organizational Competency


At Level 5, change management is deeply embedded in the organization's culture, becoming a core competency. Key characteristics of organizations at this level include:

  • Change management being a strategic priority. 

  • Widespread understanding and application of change management across the enterprise. 

  • Routine use of change management techniques by people managers.

  • Continuous refinement to improve of change management methods. 

  • Extensive training at all levels.

  • Tangible benefits such as higher ROI, reduced productivity loss, and decreased employee resistance to change.

This level represents the pinnacle of change management maturity, where its principles are seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the organization.


In organizations with high change management competency, change management is fully integrated into project management from the outset. This integration is evident in the planning and design phases of projects, where both project and change management elements are standard practice and begin even before the project launch. This approach represents a mature understanding and application of change management principles as an integral part of project execution.


Change Management Maturity Model Benchmarking Research

Prosci's Best Practices research revealed that majority of participants (54%) identified their organizations as being at Levels 1 or 2 in the Change Management Maturity Model, indicating either an ad hoc approach or change management applied only to isolated projects. In contrast, only 11% of organizations were at Levels 4 or 5, where change management is deeply embedded into organizational standards and competencies. 

This data highlights the varying degrees of change management maturity across different organizations.


Next Steps to Reach Organizational Change Management Maturity


Advancing through the Change Management Maturity Model significantly enhances an organization's performance and operational effectiveness during change. Research shows a clear link between the successful management of the people side of change and the overall success of projects and initiatives. Experiences of both failed and successful changes heighten the urgency for organizations to progress up the Maturity Model, as they recognize the tangible impact of proficient change management on their outcomes.

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