What to Expect When You’re Expecting

(A Major Organizational Change)


By Amanda Arriaga and Jessica Ballew

Texas Department of Public Safety                 

Austin, Texas, USA                                            



When new parents are about to have their first child, they do a significant amount of research in order to understand all of the changes that will be coming. There will be changes to them personally, to their home, and of course, to their family.

The same principles are true when an organization is about to undergo a major change. The organization may be nervous about what will happen and what the impact will be for the future.

Much like a parent expecting a baby, being aware of what will happen throughout the major organizational change will help to provide a level of comfort and understanding. Information reduces uncertainty, and this translates into buy-in within the organization.


The book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the longest running New York Times bestseller, with over 18.5 million copies in print. Why is this? Well it may be because it describes every conceivable issue that new parents would want to know about in order to be fully prepared for the pregnancy, and during childbirth.

For some parents, the book is overkill and a scary game of “What Could Go Wrong?” For others, it helps to ensure proper planning and provides strategies for mitigating the various risks.   The book is organized into trimesters and thoughtfully articulates an answer for every question you may have.


Unfortunately, there is no corresponding book for what to expect during a major organizational change. You may think that if the CEO of your organization requests the change, the change will magically happen and all will be well. But this is not true. Organizational change needs nurturing and constant support, just like an expectant mother.

Every organizational change is different, and will be handled differently based on the change and the organization. However, the change life cycle of: identifying the change, getting buy in, implementing the change and then reviewing the impact of the change should be constant.

Twinkle in Your Eye – Identifying the Need for Change

When someone in your organization gets the hint of an idea that they would like to implement that is different from the current standard, this is similar to prospective parents determining if they are ready to start a family. During this phase, there are idealistic visions of what the change will be like, once realized. When people say “this change will revolutionize the company”, this is similar to parents talking about how their hypothetical child will win the Nobel Prize, or find a cure for cancer.

And just like not every child grows up to win the Nobel Prize, not every change will have the sweeping benefits that were originally anticipated. What can be anticipated, however, are the reactions that may result from the change. If the change includes a reorganization or a shift in workload or work product, those issues should be addressed and discussed openly and frequently with the staff impacted by those issues.

Researching what to expect, who can help, and identifying information sources that provide insightful strategies and tactics increases the opportunity for a successful change process.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 4th Annual University of Maryland PM Symposium in May 2017. It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.


About the Authors

Amanda Arriaga, JD

Austin, TX, USA


Amanda Arriaga
is the Chief Administrative Officer at the Texas Department of Public Safety, overseeing the functions of Human Resources, Facilities, Procurement & Contracts and Enterprise Projects. She is also the co-chair of the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communication (TASSCC) Special Interest Group in Project Management, and Immediate Past President of the Austin Young Lawyer’s Association. Amanda earned her BBA in Management from Texas A&M University and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. She has served as Governor Rick Perry’s Special Assistant for Homeland Security and Border Affairs and DPS Chief of Government and Media Relations. Amanda can be contacted at [email protected]

To view more works by Amanda Arriaga, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/amanda-arriaga/


Jessica Ballew

Austin, TX, USA


Jessica Iselt Ballew
is the Deputy Assistant Director for Policy and Planning at the Texas Department of Public Safety, overseeing enterprise projects, procurements, and contracts.  She is co-chair of the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communication (TASSCC) Special Interest Group in Project Management. Jessica has a B.S. in Communications through Arizona State University.  In addition, she has over 18 years of experience in the planning, development, and delivery of information technology solutions and conducting business and process analysis to achieve operational improvement. Email: [email protected]

To view more works by Jessica Iselt Ballew, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/jessica-iselt-ballew/