Implementing change in higher education : resolving change management deficiencies and its effects on process and employee efficiency.


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This Problem of Practice study explored and synthesized the lived experiences of specialized project managers as they grappled with the challenges of aligning technical and people-centric change. For these individuals within a fast-growing organization in a complex and rapidly evolving higher-education marketplace change is mandatory and relentless. With constant change and the resulting challenges, effective project managers must understand organizational change, change theory, and change management to best capitalize on cost avoidance, risk mitigation, employee efficacy, and human capital. Despite the complexity, risks, and potential rewards, these project managers must take action even when not fully prepared. This qualitative phenomenology study scrutinized the change management process of a higher education project management team. Study and team participants included 25 project managers with varying experience, change management familiarity, and formal project management education. The researcher used multiple data sources, including a review of formal policy documents, open-ended questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews to better understand the team’s collective and individual challenges and current change management process. This study utilized collective philosophical hermeneutics to gain insight into how individuals’ each with their own thoughts, working knowledge, and challenges, combined to define their team’s identity. Data analysis occurred to identify common themes to understand the project managers’ current change management process deficits. As a result of gaining an understanding of the individuals who make up the larger cohesive project management group, the researcher acquired insight and knowledge concerning how improving key areas could make the team more effective and efficient. The personal and systemic challenges, desired industry disruption, personal and corporate innovations, concerns, and adopted solutions in the fields of project management, business process reengineering, and change management culminated in five key pervasive themes; culture, urgency, safety, openness, and transparency. These themes are all supporting principles for effective teamwork. Members of management were concerned with utilizing these themes to leverage and empower employees by fostering relationships, building skills, and developing leaders in a cohesive, effective, and collaborative team. Individual participant’s perspectives regarding these themes were primarily targeted towards fostering friendships, enhancing their personal effectiveness, and awareness of any perceived effect on their social standing.



Project management. Change management. Organizational change. Project manager. Higher education. Business process. Process engineering. University leadership. Change leadership. Online university. Educational leader. Disrupting higher-ed.