Change Management Glossary

Common Change Management Terms 




A model developed by Prosci® to describe the elements needed for an individual to successfully move through change.
The acronym ADKAR stands for:
A – Awareness
D – Desire
K – Knowledge
A – Ability
R – Reinforcement


Employees doing their job the new way

As-is state

This is the current situation in the organization, i.e. the pre-change people, processes, technology, structure, strategy, culture, etc.

Barrier Point

The first element in the ADKAR sequence that is insufficient and impedes change progress. Neutral is a barrier.

Best Practices

A method or technique that consistently achieves superior results as compared to other means.

Change Agent

A person within an organization who applies leadership, communications, problem solving, business knowledge and project management skills to enable staff to work effectively as they plan, implement and experience change. 

Change Champion

An individual who clearly sees the vision for the change and takes an active role in moving the change forward.   Change champions advocate for the change, and are key to realizing successful outcomes.  They can be from any level within the organization.


Change Curve

The change curve is a way of understanding and visually representing the level of an individual’s confidence, morale and roll competence through a period of change. From its starting level, for most people it rises slightly, dips, rises again and levels out. Effective change management involves ensuring that the dip is as shallow and narrow as possible and that the curb levels out higher than it started.

Change Initiative

An organized, concerted effort to alter part of or all of an organization.

Change Readiness

Change readiness is the capacity for change of a stakeholder of a change initiative.


An acronym that represents the critical roles that managers and supervisors must perform to successfully lead their teams through change.
The acronym CLARC stands for:
C – Communicator
L – Liaison
A – Advocate
R – Resistance Manager
C – Coach

Client/ Customer

The recipient of a product, service, information, or other output.

  • External Client - A person or organization that receives a product, service or information but is not part of the organization supplying it.
  • Internal Client - The recipient (person or department) within an organization of another person’s or department’s output (product, service or information).



This role refers to the relationship between a supervisor and their employees. A coach is that individual who helps their direct reports transition through the change. In most cases, this role is assumed by front-line supervisors or managers who are directly involved with employees impacted by the change.  Coaches are key communicators and managers of resistance.

Communication channels

Routes used to pass messages, such as social media, email, verbal presentations, reports, etc.

Communication Plan

A guide to the communication and sponsorship efforts throughout the duration of the project. It is a living and working document and is updated periodically as audience needs change. It explains how to convey the right message, from the right communicator, to the right audience, through the right channel, at the right time. It addresses the six basic elements of communications: communicator, message, communication channel, feedback mechanism, receiver/audience, and timeframe.

A communication plan includes:

  • “Who” – the target audience
  • “What” – the key messages that are to be articulated
  • “When” – timing, specifically, the appropriate time of delivery for each message
  • “Why” – the desired outcomes
  • “How” – the communication vehicle (how the message will be delivered)
  • “By whom” – the sender (who will deliver the information and how he or she is chosen)

Current State

How things are NOW.  It is business as usual - the processes and tools that make up an employee's daily work. The current state is known and comfortable, and is generally preferred by employees.


A term used in project management to describe a tangible or intangible object produced as a result of the project.  It can be a report, document, server upgrade or any other building block of an overall project.  Deliverables are laid out on a timeline and may delay overall completion if not performed/produced as scheduled.


The act of enabling a group to collaborate and achieve synergy through applied, impartial and constructive meeting practices including active listening, clarifying roles, evoking participation, summarizing and organizing ideas, etc.

Future State

Where we want to be in the future.  This is unknown or not well understood.

Incremental Change

Continuous improvements made to the organization in an ongoing, adaptive manner. These are gradual changes to the current state. Incremental change does not usually challenge the existing culture of an organization.

Individual change management

The process and steps an individual goes through to implement a change successfully, whether personal change or professional change. ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement) is one example of an individual change management model that describes the sequence of successful change.

Managing Change

Managing change is the second phase in the Prosci® change management plan.  It includes developing plans for Communication, Sponsorship, Training, Coaching and Resistance Management, and taking action on those plans.

Newton’s First Law of Motion

Things in motion continue to move in the same direction unless some effort is exerted upon them.


A specific statement of a desired short-term condition or achievement; includes measurable end results and time limits.

Organizational Change Management

The specific actions and steps that can be taken to implement a change management program.  Prosci's 3-phase change management process (preparing for, managing and reinforcing change) is a methodology for implementing organizational change management.

Organizational Culture

The shared story of the individuals within it. It is the deeply ingrained social fabric of the organization that drives people’s behavior. It is made up of the values, belief systems, dominant leadership styles, collective unspoken assumptions, stories, myths, legends and rituals as well as its character and orientation.

PESTLE analysis

PESTLE analysis looks at the political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors which affect an organization. It is a way of ensuring that a situation has been thought of in a practical manner from all sides. It can be combined with other diagnostic models.

Preparing for Change

Preparing for change is the first phase in the Prosci® change management plan and includes building a change management strategy.

Primary Sponsor

Typically the senior manager or executive that initiated the project.  The primary sponsor is that individual whom authorizes and funds the project. This person is usually in control of the resources, systems and people that are affected by the change. The primary sponsor has three main change management responsibilities, including active and visible participation, coalition building, and communication of business messages about the change.  The project’s level of risk may influence the primary sponsor’s level within the organization. 

Project Change Triangle

A model developed by Prosci® to describe the elements needed for an organization to successfully move through change. 

Project Leader

This role is assigned to that individual who has overall responsibility to implement the project. This individual would have direct day-to-day control over the project team, the project schedule and all vendors associated with the project.

Project Management

The discipline which manages projects, through planning and organizing the resources, controlling the quality and is ensuring adherence to the time constraints. For example, they would ensure that the machine is delivered on time, at the right price and that it is being built to the specifications and quality level required by the organization to bring about the desired benefits.

Reinforcing Change

Reinforcing change is the final phase in the Prosci® change management plan.  It includes collecting feedback, managing resistance, implementing corrective actions, and celebrating successes.

Resistance Management Plan

The resistance management plan is the identification of what resistance might look like, where it might come from and what steps will be taken to mitigate or prevent the resistance. This is a proactive effort to address concerns and build support early in the project, rather than waiting until implementation.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on investment is a specific quantitative measure, the ratio between the amount of money spent on achieving the change (known as cost of change) and the financial value of the improvement (the return). The return needs to take into account both the positive value of any improvements (known as benefits) and the negative value of any disadvantageous results of the change (known as dis-benefits). Using this method requires organizations to attempt to put a financial value on benefits which may not be financial, such as improved staff morale, customer satisfaction or increase reputation, hence the move in many organizations towards a portfolio of financial and non-financial measures which give a rich picture of the value of the change.

Speech-maker sponsor

A leader with the undesirable trait of assuming that merely making a presentation on the need to change constitutes sufficient personal involvement in the change effort.


In general, this term refers to any senior or mid-level manager who has employees that will be impacted by the change, and who must sponsor the change with these employees in order for the change to be a success. Sponsors play a role in building awareness and desire to change with their direct reports, groups, divisions or departments.

Sponsorship Roadmap

The sponsorship roadmap provides specific details about what the executives and senior leaders need to do to make the change successful. In all four of the Prosci® change management benchmarking studies, effective sponsorship was identified as the number one contributor to success. The three high-level responsibilities of the sponsor are active and visible participation, building coalitions and communication of business messages about change. The sponsorship roadmap is the document that puts real actions to the role of the sponsor.


A person or group which has an interest in the process or result of a change initiative. They do not necessarily have to be directly or indirectly affected by a change initiative to be a stakeholder; some stakeholders are unaffected but can wield direct or indirect influence, such as damaging an organization’s reputation or encouraging public support. Examples of stakeholder groups include: customers, groups of employees, people with specific roles within the organization, the media, government, society, competitors, trades unions, campaign groups, etc.

Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder analysis is about identifying who has an interest in or influence over a change initiative and what their characteristics are.  Stakeholder analysis involves thinking about:

  • Who the stakeholder or stakeholder group is
  • What might be their needs and expectations from the potential change
  • What that stakeholder or stakeholder group’s level of influence (or power) within the organization is
  • What their likely attitude towards the potential change is
  • What barriers or potential sources of resistance could prevent the individual or group moving towards the change?
  • If the stakeholder is a group, what differences would the change make to the roles, processes and structures in that group?

Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholder mapping involves representing stakeholders on a grid that displays their level of power (or influence) on one axis from low to high, and their likely attitude toward the change on the other from positive to negative.

Training Plan

The training plan details the knowledge that must be built for the change to be successful and the steps to overcome any knowledge gaps that exist. Training covers both the transition state (what do you need to know to be successful during the change) and the future state (what do you need to know to be successful after the implementation). One note - training is effective for building knowledge and ability, but should not be relied upon for building awareness and desire to change.

Transformational Change

Change which is not merely an extension of, improvement or modification of the current state of an organization, but one which involves a complete and fundamental change to the organization, involving changes to processes and systems, people, structure and/or culture.

Transition State

How things are during the change; the process of changing the way work is done. For employees, the transition state creates stress and anxiety. It is the 'implementation' phase of a project. The transition state is where change management can minimize resistance and improve how well and how quickly a change is adopted.

Unblocker Sponsor

A senior leader with sufficient authority whose intervention may be sought in removing difficult organizational obstacles which hamper progress during the change.


Employees are effective in their adoption.

Vision Statement

The change vision statement is a pithy, inspiring description changed organization will look like. It should be short, punchy, easily understood, appeal to all communication styles and be memorable. If leaders cannot easily, quickly and convincingly encapsulate a change, it is unlikely they will persuade others to buy into it. The vision should be what the organization returns to when confusion develops about the change and what it uses to enthuse stakeholders to support the change.


An acronym for “What’s In It For Me?”