Agile and Organizational Change Management


to Increase Project Success



By Paul Burton, PhD

Amberton University

Texas, USA


Project success requires the use of effective organizational change management (OCM) techniques, including stakeholder and sponsor management, change agent development, resistance management, and end-user adoption. These strategies and tools are essential for ensuring that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the desired quality standards. However, while Agile methodologies have gained widespread popularity in product development and offer a range of core methods and processes to increase the chances of project success, they do not fully address best practices in OCM. This paper proposes a hybrid approach that combines the Agile and OCM frameworks in order to optimize project success. The suggested approach includes recommendations for addressing stakeholder and sponsor management, managing resistance to change, and developing strategies to ensure end-user adoption of project solutions after they are implemented. By focusing on the integration of Agile and OCM, organizations can significantly increase the likelihood of project success.

Managing Change

Challenges remain with managing change on projects, calling for further development of Organizational Change Management (OCM):

“Project managers claim to be agents of change, and the effective management of such change has been recognized as a factor contributing to project success. However, management of organizational change has received relatively little attention in project management research.  Thus, there is lack of clarity concerning the relationship between and among change, project, and program roles. Previous research suggests that project managers do not necessarily have the required competence to perform the full spectrum of activities required to promote and implement organizational change. (Crawford, 2014).

Organizational Change Concepts

A core approach to OCM is provided through the concept of ADKAR, addressing the recommended stages to address a stakeholder’s understanding and acceptance to change through a staged (ordered) approach of the individual’s Awareness, Desire, Knowledge & Ability, and Reinforcement towards the change:

Awareness of the need for the change.  This represents a person’s understanding of the nature of the change, why the change is being made and the risk of not changing, and addresses the individual’s “What’s In It for Me” (WIIFM) considerations.

Desire to support and participate in the change, representing the individual’s willingness to support and engage in the change.  Desire is ultimately about personal choice, influenced by the nature of the change, influenced by the nature of the change, one’s personal situation, as well as intrinsic motivators that are unique to each person.

Knowledge of how to change represents the information, training and education necessary to know how to change.  Knowledge includes information about behaviors, processes, tools, systems, skills, job roles and techniques that are needed to implement the change.

Ability to implement the change through skills & behaviors represents the realization or execution of the change, turning knowledge into action. Ability is achieved when a person or group has the demonstrated capability to implement the change at the required performance levels.

Reinforcement to sustain the change represents those internal and external factors that sustain the change. Reinforcements could be the person’s internal satisfaction with his or her achievements or other benefits at a personal level (Hiatt, 2006).


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 15th UT Dallas PM Symposium in May 2023.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Burton, P. (2023). Agile and Organizational Change Management to Increase Project Success; originally presented at the 15th University of Texas at Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, TX, USA in May 2023; PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VII, July.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/pmwj131-Jul2023-Burton-agile-and-organizational-change-management-utd.pdf

About the Author

Paul Burton, PhD

North Texas, USA


Dr. Paul Burton currently serves as a faculty member and M.B.A. Project Management Coordinator at Amberton University in Garland, TX. Courses include Project Management Fundamentals, Risk, Cost & Schedule Management, Project Execution & Closure, Stakeholder & Communications Management, Agile Project Management and Agile Methods. He also serves as a leader in major Information Technology (IT) transformations with many businesses and industries, focusing on Organizational Change and Project Management. Currently working at Salesforce, he also has a consulting background with Deloitte and Computer Sciences Corporation (DXC Technologies). Dr. Burton served 7 years in corporate services with Raytheon Company as an IT Project Manager and Six Sigma Black Belt. Additional qualifications include Prosci Change Management Practitioner, Project Management Professional (PMP), and PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP). His current interest is blending Project Management and Organizational Change for today’s dynamic, company-wide initiatives.

Dr. Burton can be contacted at pburton@amberton.edu