The Change Maturity Model

Authors: Riley SmithJohn LaMannaCorey White

How will this carpet look in our living room?” “Is this hike good for the dog?” “Is that new restaurant expensive?”

These questions are simple assessments. For most, a yes/no answer suffices and the assessment becomes an opinion (or maybe, expert opinion).

For more complicated questions like whether or not unemployment will rise, experts factor in historical precedents, multiple leading and/or lagging indicators, and the key players within the system to make an accurate assessment. Put these variables into a model or framework, and your assessment becomes legitimized. Using frameworks often conveys a sense of legitimacy to people because an idea becomes rooted in a larger context – perhaps even academically validated elsewhere.

As consultants, we have the privilege of informally or formally assessing a client’s capacities. Assessing the maturity of a department, organization, or enterprise is an interesting dance. We are hired to elevate our client through strategic thought and superb delivery. In the course of doing so, we develop core relationships with the teams we work with and the clients that hired us. These relationships are, in effect, what make Propeller consultants successful, and often retained, with our core clients. Yet an assessment often can be a discussion of how a client struggles in key areas, and that can be a delicate endeavor.

So when a trusted client comes to us at the end of a project and asks, Being that Propeller has worked on our highest-priority projects in the past few years, can you put together an assessment of how we are performing as an organization in change management?”it can feel like a test of the relationship. How do we provide an expert assessment that is valuable, honest, and something that the client can build on as they move forward?

Frameworks & Models

A maturity model measures the ability of an organization to pursue continuous improvement in a particular discipline.

At Propeller, we have developed a Change Maturity Model that evaluates an organization in three key areas that define successful change management: Knowledge and rigor, Organizational Structure, and Effective Execution. Each of these simultaneously build on each other (hence, the circle) and are composed of four indicators in each area.

1. Knowledge and Rigor

Metrics: Performance Indicators, Process & Tool Efficiency, Practitioner Competency, Leadership Awareness and Engagement

Overview: practitioners and leaders have the skill sets and tools to build change management into the project

2. Organizational Structure

the organization’s structure defines how the change is integrated in existing project portfolios as well as data systems.

3. Effective Execution 

The most downstream, execution is defined by how resources are allocated and how effective the team is at planning CM into the project, while communicating and training to the change with your audience.

Having a model is the first step, but your assessment doesn’t end there. If it did, you’d effectively guess a score for each of the 12 indicators (low, medium, high) and turn it in.

For our assessment, we turned this model into a scorecard, with 1-4 metrics defining each indicator. For example, under Project Design, we assessed the organization’s performance in Change Management Planning, Stakeholder Engagement, and Change Adoption. For each of these three metrics, we detailed a current state, ideal state, change medium (people, process, technology), maturity level, trend, business impact and a set of recommendations.

Visual learners take it in here: (You can also download the assessment model here)

Propeller's Change Maturity Model


By driving to that level of detail, we honed our scores with structure, anecdotes, and at times, quantifiable data. Additionally, this detail allows you to arrive at recommendations for each of the 12 indicators. In the example above, we noted that their change often stalls out over time, and a lack of reinforcement leaves their changes floundering after go-live. The scorecard allows the client to sort and filter at their will, providing them options to dive deep into ‘low-hanging fruit’ items, or to address what are impactful at a low cost.

Few organizations will score medium or high in every indicator in this model, and in our case, the client had more low scores than medium/high ones. But it was okay, and actionable. Having our presentation and scorecard backed by a framework (that is backed by expert change management principles), led to a fruitful conversation on next steps for the organization – and further trust in our capacity as change management experts.

Organizations need to understand opportunities or gaps within current processes and structures. Only then can they zoom in on a particular area to identify desired outcomes. It’s like a microscope: Increasing the resolution on any one component provides greater clarity.

At Propeller, we’ve leveraged years of successful change delivery and packaged it up into a downloadable maturity model to walk you through the most important questions when assessing your organization’s maturity level.

Is what you’re doing working? Download the Change Management Maturity Assessment to find out.