Due to several factors, including changing student demographics and expectations, technological advancements, compliance requirements, and shifts in the job market, higher education is continually transforming. Institutions respond to these drivers by implementing new or existing programs, adopting innovative technologies to enhance learning, teaching, and research, and modifying policies and procedures to meet regulatory requirements. Additionally, some institutions may undergo organizational restructurings, such as mergers or integrations, to achieve economies of scale and address inefficiencies. Implementing these changes can be challenging. This is where organizational change management comes into play. In this blog post, I will introduce a formal process called ProSci Change Management and its vital role in organizational changes.

As a leader/sponsor or recipient of change, it is crucial to understand the reasons behind the change and its potential impact. Before implementing any change, specific questions must be answered and communicated effectively to all stakeholders. These questions include:

  • Why are we changing? This helps to provide context and explain the need for change.
  • Why are we changing now? This helps explain the urgency of the change and why it needs to happen now.
  • What is changing? This helps to clarify what specifically is changing and what areas will be impacted.
  • What is not changing? This helps to reassure stakeholders that some things will remain the same and help to reduce anxiety.
  • What is the risk of not changing? This helps to explain the potential consequences of not making the change.

Think of a time when you’ve experienced change initiatives that met its intended outcomes and when stakeholders “bought in” to the change. How were the questions above defined and communicated?

Personal Experience with Change Management

In my 27-year career, I have led and been involved in major organizational changes, which has given me an understanding of the impact these changes can have on individuals and teams. From my experience, I have observed that when an organization does not consider proper change management, staff can experience negative consequences. Conversely, when the “people side of change” is intentionally considered and actively managed, successful initiatives can lead to ownership and satisfaction among those involved and impacted. Success is defined as achieving intended outcomes and ensuring those involved feel heard and valued. One of the recent and most complex changes I led and was a sponsor of was the integration of two IT organizations that spanned three years.

The Impact of ChatGPT:

Technology integration is often a significant change for organizations, and the adoption of ChatGPT is no exception. As an AI-powered chatbot, ChatGPT has the potential to disrupt traditional communication channels and change the way people work. In higher education, it has the potential to impact teaching, learning, and administrative processes. Implementing ChatGPT requires careful planning and management to ensure a successful transition.

The Importance of Change Management:

Depending on the scope and significance of an organizational change, one or all of these components may affect the organization and the people.

  • Processes
  • Systems
  • Tools
  • Job Roles
  • Critical Behaviors
  • Mindsets/Attitudes/Beliefs
  • Reporting Structure
  • Performance Reviews
  • Compensation
  • Location

This is where change management comes in. Change management is the process of planning and implementing change in a structured and controlled manner to minimize the negative impact on employees, customers, and other stakeholders. It provides a structured approach to managing the people side of change and ensures that everyone affected by the change understands why it’s happening, what’s changing, and how it will impact them.

The ProSci Change Management Process:

Many formal change management frameworks are available, including Lewin’s Change Management Model, Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model Bridges’ Transition Model, and McKinsey 7-S Model. and ProSci ADKAR framework.

I introduced ProSci as the change management process for integrating the two IT units because it resonated with me as it was more specific in addressing changes at the individual level. A principle of ProSci is that organizational change is the result of the collective individual changes.

The ProSci Change Management process consists of three phases:
  • Phase 1: Prepare for Change – Define your change management strategy, prepare your change management team, and develop your sponsorship model.
  • Phase 2: Manage Change – Develop change management plans that include communications, sponsorship, coaching, training, and resistance management.
  • Phase 3: Sustain Outcomes – Review performance, activate sustainment strategies, and transfer ownership.

The Change Success Triangle is a crucial part of the ProSci Change Management process and provides a framework for organizations to manage change successfully.

The Change Success Triangle consists of four components:
  • Success: clarity on the aim or purpose of the initiative
  • Leadership/sponsorship: provides strategy, direction, and guidance
  • Project management: delivers a solution that meets business requirements
  • Change management: enables people to adopt and use the solution

Another essential component of ProSci is ADKAR, which is an acronym for the five key building blocks of successful change:

  1. Awareness: This involves creating awareness of the need for change and its reasons. It’s about helping people understand why the change is necessary and what benefits it will bring.
  2. Desire: This involves creating a desire for the change by helping people understand how it will personally benefit them. It’s about creating buy-in and ownership for the change.
  3. Knowledge: This involves providing the knowledge and skills needed to change. It’s about providing training and support to ensure people are equipped to change.
  4. Ability: This involves creating the ability to change by providing the necessary resources, tools, and support. It’s about removing obstacles and providing ongoing support to ensure people have what they need to change.
  5. Reinforcement: This involves reinforcing the change by celebrating successes and embedding the change into the organization’s culture. It’s about making the change stick and ensuring it becomes part of the new way.

Middle Managers and Change Management:

Middle managers play a critical role in ensuring the change is successful by supporting their teams, communicating effectively, and managing any issues. While change management is essential for all levels of the organization, middle managers often have the most challenging roles. They not only need to go through the change themselves, but they also need to lead their staff in their roles as coaches, liaisons, and conflict managers.

Managers assume these five roles (CLARC) under the ProSci model:

  • Communicator – Share personal impact messages with direct reports about the change
  • Liaison – Engage with and support the project team
  • Advocate – Demonstrate support for the change
  • Resistance Manager – Identify and mitigate resistance to the change
  • Coach – Help employees through the change process


Effective change management is essential for organizations to remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing business environment. The ProSci Change Management process provides a structured and holistic approach to managing change and ensuring success. Whether integrating new technology like ChatGPT or implementing significant organizational changes, the ProSci Change Management process can help organizations navigate the complexities of change and achieve their goals.

As a leader/sponsor or recipient of change, it is crucial to understand and communicate the reasons behind the change and its potential impact. Organizations can provide context and clarity around the change by answering key questions such as why we are changing, what is changing, and the risk of not changing. By following a structured change management process like ProSci, organizations can minimize the risks associated with change and make the transition as smooth as possible.

Middle managers play a critical role in ensuring the change is successful by supporting their teams, communicating effectively, and managing any issues. Organizations can ensure that they have the skills and confidence to lead their teams through the change by providing them with the tools, training, and support they need.

In conclusion, integrating new technology like ChatGPT can significantly change organizations. However, with the right change management approach and effective communication, training and support, transparency, open feedback, leadership, and celebrating successes, organizations can successfully navigate the complexities of change and emerge stronger and more competitive. By embracing change and taking a structured approach to managing it, organizations can create a culture of innovation and continuous improvement that drives long-term success.