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Business Strategy
Industry Expertise

Organizational Change Management (OCM): Debunking Persistent Myths


Change is constant, whether triggered by organic growth or rapid business transformation, planned or unplanned. With Organizational Change Management (OCM), projects are seven times more likely to achieve goals, according to Prosci®. Let me repeat that: with OCM, projects are seven times more likely to achieve their goals.  

OCM lays out a way forward for the organization, business units, teams, and employees. It answers critical questions: Why are we doing this? What does the future look like? What does it mean for me? How am I supported through this change? Will I have a place that I like in this new future? 

OCM is a game changer, yet it is still often misunderstood. Let’s dispel some common myths! 

Myth #1: “OCM is just the soft stuff; we don’t need that.” 

  • IT teams are responsible for managing a multitude of technologies.
  • System Implementers (SIs) are experts in technology implementations.
  • Technology vendors tout the benefits of their applications. 

But who’s responsible for supporting the people who will need to adapt to that technology? 

Projects are expected to deliver value to the organization, but that’s not an automatic by-product of the technology investment. It is largely dependent on how well it enables the people in the organization and garners support and adoption. OCM designs and implements specific activities, tailored to the unique change impact and business readiness of an organization.  

Fact: OCM is tangible, and managing the people side of large change initiatives is critical to success and value realization.  

Myth #2: “OCM is simply a fancy term for training.” 

Implementation project plans typically include training. However, the training effort is often designed like the implementation: Here is how the system works. Read the documentation. Take a class. You’re good to go now, right? Not quite.  

Training is indeed a big component of OCM. Done well; it should be learner-centric. What does that mean?  

It’s not about teaching users how the system works but all about teaching them how to be successful in their roles with the necessary skills and confidence. It focuses on methods that optimize learning, including practice in a training system, instructor-led training, and digital learning directly in the application to support them as they work.  

Fact:learning & development (L&D) method is tailored and multi-dimensional, precisely because humans are not generic users and learn best with safe practice options and multiple modalities.   

Myth #3: “OCM is the same thing as a project communications plan.” 

Project plans often include a communications plan. Like training plans, these tend to focus on sharing project updates. Perhaps the corporate communications team and marketing publish exciting visions of the project, display creative posters, and distribute project-themed merch.  

Everybody’s got a project hat? Check. We’re good now, right? Not quite. 

Yes, employees at large want to know what the project team is doing. More importantly, they want to know the reason for the project and how the organization and customers are impacted. And especially how they are impacted.  

  • What is in it for me? 
  • What is expected of me?
  • Who will support me and how?  

A thoughtful OCM approach to communications shepherds the human workstream to that future target state.  

Communications are also bi-directional. Employees need to be seen, heard, and understood, with communications that are specific to them.  

Fact: Employees want to hear what’s most relevant to them, from their leadership and direct managers. Not just once, but throughout the project, from both project sponsors and stakeholders.  

Myth #4: “We can just hire an outside vendor to handle OCM.” 

We often hear things like, “We’ve identified a resource for OCM,” or, “We hired a company to do OCM for us.” We beg to differ. 

An OCM expert is a crucial resource to help structure and lead an OCM effort. They provide a framework, help solidify the idea, and acclimate the organization to the fundamentals.  

The OCM practitioners, however, are the organization’s leadership, management, and other champions of the change. These practitioners must be visible and effective participants, acting as a concerted unit through a direct and ongoing discourse with employees. They advocate, communicate, coach, and directly manage to alleviate fears and resistance. Employees look to their leaders at all levels for a commitment in words and actions.  

Fact: OCM practitioners are the primary in-house resources and carry the responsibility for managing their teams and organization through the change journey. OCM simply cannot be outsourced or handed off. 


OCM is an important component of any change effort. The data couldn’t be clearer. We believe technical innovation – think automation and AI – and macro factors (from political uncertainty to supply chain disruptions) are accelerating the speed of change. Juxtapose that with trends to reimagine the workplace and radically different ideas of career and engagement, motivation and communications styles of the four to five generations that are now working together. Managing such change might just be the difference between companies and teams that thrive or barely survive.