Interview with Tim Creasy


The People Side of Change Management Is Harder

Interview with Tim Creasey

Author, Researcher, Speaker
Chief Innovation Officer, Prosci
Australia, Canada, USA

Interviewed by Spring
Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)
International Correspondent, PM World Journal

Introduction to the interviewee

Tim Creasey is Chief Innovation Officer of Prosci, a global leader in change management. He is a presenter, thought leader and researcher on managing the people side of projects. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge on change management. Through conference keynotes, presentations, articles and tools, he has advanced the discipline of change management by moving it out of the “soft and fuzzy” realm toward a structured, rigorous approach for value creation and benefit realization. He co-authored the book Change Management: The People Side of Change and Prosci’s Change Management Best Practices (editions from 2001 to present).


Part I – The People Side of Change Management

Q1.      Why do you think it is important to manage the people side of projects? You’ve said the soft side of change is actually the harder side of change. Would you please explain it?

Tim Creasey (Creasey):    Successful change of any kind has two sides, a technical side and a people side. The technical side is where we design, develop and deliver a solution to meet a need. The people side is where we enable our people to engage, adopt and use the change. The change landscape is littered with examples where the technical side of the change was flawlessly executed, but the people side was neglected. And, as a result, the organization making the change realized little or no value. An example almost everyone can relate to is the installation of a new technology that didn’t gain traction – people simply did not use the new technology as expected. Although the buttons worked and the solution was delivered on time, on budget, and to specifications, the organization did not realize any of the expected value. The problem, and the solution, lies in how people in the organization adopt and use the change.

The discipline of project management provides a structured approach to balancing the cost, time, and scope of the technical side of the project. It sequences the tasks and activities necessary to design, develop, and deliver the solution to the organization in a way that meets the design requirements. But flipping the switch, launching the initiative, or installing the technology only gets you partway there. Once the solution goes live, people need to step into a new way of showing up. The change will impact various aspects of their job, including processes, systems, tools, behaviors, and mindsets. Change management is an enabling framework that helps individuals successfully transition from their current state (how they do their job today) to their future state (how they will do their job once the change is in place). While change may occur at the organizational, business unit or project level, change management occurs at the individual level when we engage, prepare, equip, and support individuals through their individual change journeys. Change success is achieved when all the individuals impacted by a change successfully transition from their current to future state.

Change management directly impacts a project’s return on investment (ROI). It is important for a project team to understand how much of the project’s expected benefits are dependent upon people adopting and using the solution. This describes the people-dependent portion of the project’s ROI, and this is the benefit that is at risk if the people side of change is not tended to and left up to chance.

When we leave the people side of change up to chance by not supporting individuals through their change journeys, indifference becomes a risk. Indifference manifests as passive resistance, loss in productivity, lower moral, higher job dissatisfaction, and employee turnover. We ask our people to change how they show up each day, and the right way to treat them is to prepare, equip, and support them through the change they are experiencing. The emerging focus on putting people first and becoming more human-centric as organizations is directly aligned with the goals and objectives change management has been pursuing for decades.

In terms of the “soft side” of change being harder than the “hard side” of change, imagine a merger or an acquisition. There is significant complexity on the technical side of change: systems and process integration, financial reconciliation, organizational structure realignment, internal and external communications, marketing and brand positioning – the list goes on. But the “harder” side of the change is getting people to work in a new way, and it is the harder side of change because when a person shows up to do their job differently, they are doing that job in the context of their life and their role and everything else that’s going on around them. As a result, the journey to success on the people side of change can be more challenging than even the most technically complex solution.

The good news is that although change is hard and change is continuous, change success is accessible with and through our people when we support our people through their journeys. And this is the function of change management.

Part Major Obstacles to Change Management

Q2.      What are the major obstacles to change management? And how should we overcome these obstacles?


To read entire interview, click here

Editor’s note: This interview was first published in PMR, Project Management Review magazine, China.  It is republished here with the permission of PMR. The PM World Journal maintains a cooperative relationship with PMR, periodically republishing works from each other’s publications. To see the original interview with Chinese introduction, visit PMR at http://www.pmreview.com.cn/english/

How to cite this interview: PMR (2022). The People Side of Change Management Is Harder: Interview with Tim Creasey; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VIII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/pmwj120-Aug2022-Spring-Interview-with-Tim-Creasey.pdf

About the Interviewer


Beijing, China


Spring (English name), Bachelor’s Degree, graduated from the English Department of Beijing International Studies University (BISU) in China. She is now an English-language journalist and editor working for Project Management Review (PMR) Magazine and website. She has interviewed over sixty top experts in the field of project management. Before joining PMR, she once worked as a journalist and editor for other media platforms in China. She has also worked part-time as an English teacher in training centers in Beijing. Beginning in January 2020, Spring also serves as an international correspondent for the PM World Journal.

For work contact, she can be reached via email yuyanjuan2005@163.com  or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuanyu-76b280151/.

To view other works by Spring, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/yu-yanjuan/