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Enabling Change SIG - Common Vocabulary

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The “Change Capabilities and Methods Pillar” within the Enabling Change SIG has developed a common vocabulary for Change related terms to help everyone share the same definitions. This list will be updated from time to time as required as Change practices evolve.

We hope you will find it useful, and we would be pleased to receive any comments regarding its content to Chairman Enabling Change SIG.





To cause to be different - a relational difference between current and future states.


A concise picture or description of a better future the change will deliver.

Change Initiative

Any intentional change process, project or programme

Enabling Change


The coherent application of programme/project and  associated change management to realise successful business and/or cultural change including the delivery of benefits.

Change Management  (CM)

A structured approach and set of tools for moving one or more of the following: individuals, teams, organisations, strategies, records, technology, processes and working practices - from the current state to the desired future state.

What CM isn’t. The term Change Management is often confused with:

Change Control


the process through which all requests to change the baseline scope of a project, programme or portfolio are captured, evaluated and then approved, rejected or deferred.

Configuration Management

the administrative activities concerned with the creation, maintenance, controlled change and quality control of the programme or project scope of work.

Programme Management

The co-ordinated organisation, direction and implementation of a dossier of projects and change activities to achieve outcomes and deliver benefits.

Project Management

The co-ordinated organisation, direction and implementation of a collection of activities to deliver one or more business outputs according to a specified business case.



Transformational Change


A radical, and often drastic, fundamental shift between current and future states.

Developmental / Evolutionary Change


A series of small incremental steps to realise the ultimate change.

Emergent Change


The appearance of change not forecast or planned for earlier.



States/Phases of Change

The breakdown of change in to specific phases - usually three stages – Current, Transition and Future.

Current State / As-Is

How things are today, the “as-is”.

Transition State

The process of changing between current and future states

Future state / To-Be

How things will be – the “to be”, what the change is aiming to achieve.



Sponsor / Senior Responsible Owner

The individual with overall accountability for ensuring that the change is delivered and realises the expected benefits.

Change Champion / Business Change Manager

An individual responsible for ensuring the business preparation for, transition to, embedding and reinforcement of new capabilities so that the projected benefits can be obtained.

Change Manager / Change Agent

An individual working  in support of organisational and individual change goals and objectives.


Any individual who has an interest, perceived or actual, in the change.




The system of methods / practices followed in a systematic fashion.


An approach or line to take designed to achieve a long term vision or aim.


A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something, detailing the why, what, when, how and whom.


The tangible or intangible artefact, produced, constructed or created as a result of a planned activity


The result of change, normally affecting real-world behaviour or circumstances. Outcomes are achieved as a result of activities undertaken to effect change; they are part or all of the future state.

Capability (programme)

The completed set of outputs required to deliver an outcome.


The measureable improvement resulting from a change perceived as positive by one or more stakeholders.



The measureable decline resulting from a change perceived as negative by one or more stakeholders.

Impact Analysis


Identifying the potential consequences of a change, or estimating what needs to be modified to deliver the change.

Readiness Assessment

An activity to determine the level of business preparedness and ability to accommodate a change in terms of attitudes, conditions and resources.

Resistance / Barrier to Change

The manifestation of perceived actions (active, passive, overt, covert) in stakeholders when they perceive a change as a threat to them.

Resistance Management

An activity to surface and manage the perceive or actual resistance to change.

Risk / Threat

An uncertain event or set of events that, should it occur, will have a negative effect on the achievement of change objectives


An uncertain event or set of events that, should it occur, will have a positive effect on the achievement of change objectives.

Risk Appetite

The amount of risk an entity is willing to accept.

Change Management Plan

The aggregated plan including timing and sequence of key tasks change impact, business readiness, capability and capacity for change, engagement and communication strategies, risks and benefits.

Change Assurance

Independent assessment and confirmation that the change as a whole, or any part of, is on track, applying the relevant practices and procedures.




One to one support to enhance an individual’s knowledge, skills, abilities and performance.


A long term relationship to support an individual’s development by a more experienced and knowledgeable person.


A planned and specific set programme of instruction – may be delivered in real time or virtually / by an instructor(s) or through the use of electronic / hard-copy resources.


The action of ensuring the future state becomes embedded thus preventing the individual / organisation reverting to its old ways / state.


To make it easier for a group to do its work, reach its conclusion, through non-directive leadership.

Change Lifecycle

The structured series of stages that a change initiative passes through from conception to full benefits realisation.

Change Model

A representation of how change occurs or can be implemented.


The sending and receiving of messages to achieve individual or common goals.


The process of establishing an exchange of information that makes an entity feel involved and hence commit to a change initiative.

Communication / Engagement Channels

Different ways of exchanging ideas and information between entities.



Organisational Culture

The values and behaviours that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organisation – “the way that individuals in the organisation see and do things”.

Change Capability

A measure of the knowledge, ability and skilled resources to successfully apply change.

Change Capacity

A measure of organisation’s volume to take on change.

Change Fatigue

An individual / organisation apathy, cynicism and disengagement with change after a prolonged period of poorly delivered and led change.


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  1. Josef Smith
    Josef Smith 20 October 2022, 01:20 PM

    Application. It's all about applying. Don't write a list of vocabulary with their definitions -- you're not going to remember them. Instead, find one word and use it as much as possible in your conversations, writing, and so forth. By constantly using that word, it becomes a part of your vocabulary. Be intentional.