Every so often you see a discussion flare on the topic of what to call change management.   There’s a general squeamishness among some with being called a “change manager” or even talking about something as a “change”. The sentiment usually goes something like this:

Change Management has a bad reputation – we need to rebrand it

People don’t like change – so we need to be careful not to call this change management

You can’t actually manage change, so we need to find a better name 

These discussions are now emerging in context of agile change.

Agile change is tautology. It means the same 

All agile is change.

You’re still managing change, just in smaller iterations

Lean change means the same as agile change. 

And I’ve seen it in practice – “we need to stop talking about change and use the language of continuous improvement, because that’s more positive”. Many organisations rebrand their change as a transformation project.  However, many times transformation has become code for offshoring or continuous increments.

I get the argument.  And you won’t hear me argue that semantics are important and language is power.  What we call something does matter. But for that very reason, I would argue we must continue to use the term change management for the activities of managing change, agile or not.

When we “spin” change as “continuous improvement” we run the risk of not communicating the scale, scope and speed of the intentions. It’s disingenuous and false.

If organisations are to truly become agile in order to operate in hyper connected environments, they must be comfortable with change. And part of being comfortable with change is to normalise it.

Heather Stagl of Enclaria  published “You don’t have to call it change management, just do it”, and it’s a great case of study of a company that has made significant changes without using a formal change management model or plan. It’s kinda what I mean by normalising the activities.

In a similar vein, I would say you don’t have to change the name, just do it well.

Your thoughts? What’s in a name?