Leading Transformational Change

Winning the Hearts and Minds



By James Fette

Texas, USA




We are in a period of rapid change. To remain competitive, companies need to move fast and adapt to changes quickly. Some of these changes require significant transformation of a company’s culture, process and operating model. While the change may be important and unstoppable to the company, many individuals will always be hesitant to take on something new and leave behind what they have been familiar with for a long time. Change can create fear, uncertainty and loss of confidence and job security among employees, supervisors and the managers.  Project managers need to be able to manage transformational change efforts and drive business benefits. Managing change efforts requires a different approach than traditional project management. The Learning Objectives of this article include the following:

  1. Define change management and transformational change
  2. Understand why transformational change efforts fail
  3. The key to leading successful change- winning the hearts and minds
  4. Three “batteries” you can use to energize and win the hearts and minds
    • Purpose – improvement vs. change
    • Human Needs – Esteem and Self-Actualization
    • Engagement though experiences, connections and community

5. Traditional project management vs. change management – communication


I. Introduction: Change Management and the Era of Rapid Change

Define change management and transformational change

Project managers lead many different types of projects. One of the most complex projects to manage is a transformational change project. Change Management goes beyond project management and refers to any approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations using methods intended to re-direct the use of resources, business process, budget allocations, or other modes of operation that significantly reshape a company or organization. This transformation, reshaping the business or operation, requires different approaches and techniques because the project goes beyond just delivery of a tangible output i.e., product, service, technology, infrastructure, it requires changing the behaviors and at times, the mindset of the individuals performing the work. Many times, it requires a shift in the business culture of an organization resulting from a change in the underlying strategy and processes that the organization has used in the past. The management team may have been the people that built and enjoyed the fruits of the very culture that is needed to change.

For decades in business, change came at a relatively slow pace, technological advances were slow to roll out and be adopted. In the last 30 years, this has changed drastically. The pace of change is faster than any time in our history due to technological advances. Barriers to entry for many business’ have disappeared and the power of innovation and a laptop have the ability to shift business away from some of the largest corporations. With the rapid pace of change companies need to be able to rapidly adapt to new competitors and new opportunities. This may require drastic changes to operating models, development approaches and decisions making processes. Successful change management is key to business success in era of rapid change.

Despite mature, robust project management tools and techniques, a McKinsey study on change efforts has found that 70% of all change programs fail to achieve their goals. This is a very alarming number given the need to quickly and successfully change the business’ and operations function. Let’s look at why these efforts fail.



To read entire paper, click here


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 13th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in May 2019.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Fette, J. (2019). Leading Transformational Change: Winning the Hearts and Minds; presented at the 13th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium, Richardson, Texas, USA in May 2019; PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue IX, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/pmwj86-Oct2019-Fette-leading-transformational-change-winning-hearts-and-minds.pdf



About the Author

Jim Fette

Texas, USA



Jim Fette, PMP is a Financial Services and Experience Management executive, with over 25 years of experience leading global teams. Jim has developed a robust portfolio of skills and experience and gets his energy by helping projects, organizations and people achieve their potential. Passions include driving innovation, leading change, developing talent, career coaching and defining corporate strategy. Jim is a Program Success Principal with Qualtrics where his focus is to partner with Qualtrics’ largest and most strategic customers to close experience gaps and deliver breakthrough results. He consults on Experience Management (XM) program design, adoption and maturity and unlocks the most value from Qualtrics’ products and services. Incorporating Project Management tools and techniques, Jim has developed approaches to leadership, strategic planning and change management which can be applied to your career, your project or in developing the strategy for your organization

Jim shares insights at events, conferences and workshops as a speaker and coaches on career and leadership development.

You can learn more about Jim and view his blog at jimfette.com