< Back to all Resources

Published by the CMI and APMG-International, with ChangeQuest’s Ranjit Sidhu as part of the authoring team.

Change Management is starting to be seen as a profession in its own right. It has taken a long time to get here, even though people have been managing change in one way or another for centuries. There is plenty of literature about managing organisational change and it comes from many different disciplines and perspectives. Some people come at it from an organisational development perspective concerning themselves with the human aspects of change, others through the project and programme management route more concerned with planning for and controlling change within organisations.

Up until recently there has been no recognised standard for professional change managers. Until now that is. The Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBoK) has been developed to provide a common reference of what effective change management professionals can be expected to know and offers a basis for standardised best practice.

What the CMBoK is and is not

A body of knowledge is not intended to be a detailed ‘how to’ manual. Its aim is to show the scope of knowledge needed to be an effective change manager, as well as offer a range of useful reference sources, so you can easily find out more about the areas of knowledge needed to achieve your specific goals.

It is split into 13 main knowledge areas for example: Defining change or Communication and engagement.

Each of these is split into further components, with a breakdown of the knowledge elements required. For example, one of the components within Communication and engagement is Planning communications – describing what an effective change manager would be expected to know about the key steps involved in communications planning.

Developing the CMBoK

The CMBoK has been published by the Change Management Institute, an independent, global professional association. They formed a strategic partnership with APMG-International to develop the CMBoK. APMG are an examining institute who accredit the Change Management Practitioner qualification amongst other qualifications.

One of the major challenges we faced, as the authoring team, when embarking on this development was how to define the scope to be covered. After all, change management is such a wide field with links to many different disciplines, and there were no established guidelines for the profession. Also the nature of change varies depending on a person’s perspective, their main focus, the type of change and what they are trying to achieve.

The starting point was to understand what successful change practitioners actually do. CMI had done extensive research in this area and had already developed a Competency Framework for change management professionals. This was based on findings from over 600 practising professional change managers, from 30 countries. From this analysis of what change managers actually did, we could start to identify what is useful for them to know.

An iterative approach was used to refine the structure and scope and develop it, with several review stages. Input was gathered from CMI’s membership base about their views, and ideas for valuable reference sources.

A broad scope has been included to reflect the fact that there are many different aspects to managing change depending on the type of change and what you’re trying to achieve. To reflect this, the CMBoK indicates those areas that are essential for change management professionals to know and understand in depth, and those areas where awareness of this knowledge area is useful. For the areas of awareness, change managers don’t have to be experts – they just need an overall appreciation, so that they can judge when it may be useful to go talk to someone who is an expert in this area.

The CMBoK was launched in October 2013, and can be purchased from Amazon.


Learn to effectively lead change through a change management qualification