How often have you heard the words “project managers are change agents”?
“Project managers are change agents in an organization. Change agents are nothing other than someone or something that brings about change. But a skilled project manager is aware of this and helps orchestrate and manage change.”
I don’t agree.
There is, and always will be, a general misunderstanding of what we do and what we are. Typically, this is sector related. Maybe the healthcare sector really believes this. IT does. Construction doesn’t. I don’t think engineers do.
Maybe I would be more comfortable if the above said “Project managers IN THE HEALTH CARE SECTOR ARE OFTEN REFERRED TO AS change agents
in an organization. Change agents are nothing other than someone or something that brings about change. But a skilled project manager is aware of this and helps orchestrate and manage change.”
Project managers are not change agents and projects do not necessarily bring about change.
Some will say that building a new product delivers change. That’s a stretch and it seems to me that the words are being used to justify the title. A new release of an app delivers change? No.
Some projects do deliver change. A new internal process. A new product release that will require users to act, think and react differently. Sure.
Project managers should be aware that some projects will cause angst in people: fear, nervousness and concern. All of this needs to be managed. But any good organization that is causing a lot of change with the implementation of a project should understand this well in advance and hire the right people to manage the process. It is not the project manager’s job.
If, during your due diligence process, you discover that a project you are being asked to work on will be delivering a lot of change within an organization, be very careful. Raise the red flag and make sure the right people are in place to make it a smooth and stress-free implementation. You can then go back to doing what you do best… manage the project.