Why Project Managers SHOULDN'T Manage Change by Luke Garner

Weird title, that.

"But Luke, a project manager manages the change, you idiot". Well yeah, sort of, the PM manages the delivery of the projects' product into the organisation, they don't manage the change. See my other articles here and here for a deeper understanding of the differences.

The issue with a PM also providing the change management capability is time and quality (and occasionally knowledge).

FINE the PM can do all the things a change manager does. But, with all the activities a PM needs to do, the reality is doing the change stuff on top of that is going to greatly increase the plan or, the quality of deliverables just isn't going to be there. Plus, they're different disciplines, requiring different skills and knowledge.

Sounds harsh maybe - but a PM's objectives are the timely delivery of the product, the product being on budget and meeting all the requirements. PM's are already very busy people managing the project teams - should they really be taking on all the other stuff too?

There are caveats, of course. A small project that doesn't have a great deal of impact may only need a light communications touch - we absolutely do not need a change resource to that (but a part-time one would probably help..)

However, most projects aren't small and simple and need a lot of the stuff above. I've seen projects fail because the "Business Change Project Manager" doesn't have the capacity and/or knowledge to deliver effective change management.

Further to this, a lack of effective change management has unfortunate outcomes for projects. Industry research into project success with and without change management is startling.

You wouldn't hire a "Business Analyst Project Manager" or a "Painter & Decorator Roofer" just because you put two job titles together; a) doesn't make it so and b) its an injustice to each profession.

PS - not looking for a PM v CM showdown, simply my thoughts and experiences!


Luke is a highly accomplished business professional with a proven track record of delivering change in some of the largest UK organisations in their industry.

His expertise covers the identification and management of stakeholders, driving engagement through effective communication and ensuring individuals are set up for success to embed and sustain the change. His drive to succeed and improve is in part a result of a highly successful career as a GB athlete.