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Change Management Life Cycle: Prototyping – A Fluid Implementation Strategy (#6 in the series Change Management Life Cycle)
By Jonathan B. Gilbert

As previously noted, for change efforts to be successful, the implementation strategies must be fluid. Instead of a grand plan, sufficient flexibility in process and execution tactics must exist to respond to shifting circumstances such as market or business conditions.

These mid-course corrections often take the form of rapid prototyping or alternative responses to “what-if” scenarios—considerations that are not typically included in a detailed master plan.

Prototyping monitors the thinking and activities of people—both users and implementers—as processes and technology are put into action. Its purpose during the implementation phase is to help organizations avoid getting mired in highly detailed plans that have the potential to stall change efforts.

Essentially, prototyping is another way to get people involved in the change as opposed to being recipients of the change. It gets the change underway, in small increments, rather than waiting for the master plan to be identified. Prototyping is critical to successful change management. It is virtually impossible to plan for all contingencies in the development of an overarching strategy and, yet, any successful strategy for change must be able to accommodate unforeseen challenges.

The benefits of prototyping can be seen at every level within an organization. Executives benefit from a greater likelihood of adopting change (through incremental buy-in), while staff members benefit because, as a result of prototyping, the best approach will likely be used in implementing the change. Overall, an organization’s people will have greater ownership of the change because their insights, ideas and actions are used in building the response to the change.

At the very least, an organization should adhere to the spirit—if not the letter—of prototyping to ensure that the organization is adequately equipped to handle new developments and make adjustments on the fly.

Reprinted with permission by ESI International

Jonathan B. Gilbert has more than 30 years of experience as entrepreneur, educator, chief executive officer, construction manager, management consultant, project manager and engineer. In 1975, he began his career as a project engineer and construction manager, designing, building and operating environmental treatment facilities. This experience enabled him to teach value engineering and project management to engineering and construction professionals throughout the United States.

Mr. Gilbert has worked for management consulting firms such as Fails Management Institute, Scott, Madden and Associates and INNOVA Group. In 1997, Mr. Gilbert founded Jonathan Gilbert & Associates, where he provided advice and counsel to clients in the areas of strategy, organization development, executive coaching and project management. Currently, Mr. Gilbert is Director of Client Solutions for ESI International.

Mr. Gilbert earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park, concentrating in project/construction management and environmental engineering. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute (PMI®).

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