Project Management

Change Is Simple. Why Do We Keep Making It Hard?

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at

At this point, it is well established that projects are vehicles for change. They create new results, enhance existing solutions, incrementally improve current capabilities, or retire or remediate underperforming assets. Once a project is complete, something is going to be different as it emerges out the other end. Hopefully the result is better in some way, but in all instances the expectation is that it delivers some change.

This change might be a new business process, or enhancements to an existing one. It might produce new transportation infrastructure. The change may involve computerizing a currently manual and inconsistent process. An organization may want to launch a new service offering. A manufacturer may want to build a new production line to improve automation. A firm may build new office space to support its operations. Using these results for their intended purpose creates circumstances where people are now expected to work and interact in different ways than they have in the past.

Given this fundamental truth, you would think we would be pretty good at the whole change thing by now. Sadly, we really aren’t. In reality, change most often gets managed very, very badly, to the extent that it gets managed at all.

Too many executives–and project managers, for that matter—believe that a logical rationale for a new result will sell itself. If …

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