by Ian Saunders, Antony Aitken, Ray Charlton and David Flatman

In a nutshell

1. Change — the starting point

Without a purpose, you have no need to change, so two important questions to start with:

  • Why is this change necessary?
  • What is the outcome we want to achieve?


2. What are the change drivers?

You need to be really clear about what sort of change you are involved with and what the drivers are for the change? Is it related to...

  • A change to a process or system?
  • A change to the way you work together?
  • A re-structuring?

What is the business case for this change?

  • How does it relate to your business strategy?
  • How does it add value for customers?


3. Context and culture — the environment

Is the culture in your organisation predominantly one of command and control, or do you have a systems approach? Will your environment help or hinder the change?

Use the System model tool to understand how your organisation works.

Then, using the Performance Driver Framework, you need to consider the impact of the proposed change on other elements of your organisation.

Finally – what impact will your organisational culture have on how you go about delivering change (see Test your culture).


4. Leading and engaging

There is ample evidence to show that by involving people in changes that affect them, they more readily embrace and adopt change. If you do not involve and engage people, they are often resistant or slow to respond.


5. Leading and managing change

Leading is about creating and sustaining purpose, direction, and intent. Managing is about processes for planning, monitoring and controlling change. Both are required to bring about successful change.

  • Ensure that your business case makes sense to those involved.
  • Explain to people what is in it for them.
  • Involve people to engage their commitment.
  • At all stages, communicate.
  • Keep programme management realistic, ensuring wide involvement and the participation of others in setting measurements, and continuing to communicate.


6. Change begins with you!

You need to be prepared to change yourself if you expect others to change.

  • How does that feel?
  • Are you resisting?
  • How do you get to be ‘OK with change’?
  • What actions, specifically, will you take to show that you are willing to change?


7. Encouraging engagement

Understand that people are OK with change if they feel engaged: if they understand the reasons for it and feel at least partially in control.

  • Healthy communication and conversations between people are vital.
  • Listen to people’s concerns.
  • Make sure they feel listened to and acknowledged.
  • Involve as many people as possible.
  • Be open, democratic and sharing.


8. The change curve

The change curve illustrates common stages that people go through during change and offers actions to help overcome each one.

  • The starting point is the status quo – before the person knows about the change.
  • The next stage is the initial shock of realising that change is on they way.
  • Then comes denial, which must be countered with feedback.
  • This is followed by self-awareness and possible resistance.
  • With encouragement, the person then realises that they can make the change.
  • Experiment and learning follows, so you must accept mistakes.
  • The final stage is when the changes are fully integrated.
  • At all stages, your job is to recognise where individuals are and help them on to the next stage.


9. Delivering change — doing it!

Now comes the real test – delivering the change – though in fact you start the process of delivering change the moment that you initiate the diagnosis!

  • Pace the change.
  • Plan and put in place appropriate project management steps.
  • Ensure adequate leadership, allowing space to deal with the unexpected.
  • Learn from the past.


10. Where to start

Having identified the business case and the context and the organisation ethos, you now have to decide what to do next.

  • You need to find a balance between project management (planning, goals, monitoring, logic), ownership (the more people own the change, the more they will become involved in implementing it) and legitimacy (you need to encourage disputes between factions into the open, where they can be discussed).
  • You need to use your Political Intelligence to work behind the scenes – building commitment, unblocking resistance and dealing with conflict.
  • Three agendas need to be kept under consideration – content, control and process.


11. How do we pace change?

If change is too slow, you will not get the results you need. If it is too fast, you will burn out your people.

  • A graph shows how the pace of change affects people. The effect can range from rust out (no change) through comfort and stretch to panic and, ultimately, burnout.
  • You need to manage the pace of change so that people are within their comfort zone or stretched, but not panicked.
  • You need to manage people’s perceptions to keep them in the good zones, either by increasing their ability or by decreasing their perceived difficulty of the task.


12. Project management and its limitations

You will need an effective project management process for your change – however small it may be. In addition

  • Beware of a lack of clarity around the purpose of the change.
  • Has the purpose been owned by the participants.
  • What are the success criteria?
  • Do you accept that change is a process that is rarely ‘under control’?


13. Emergent change

Within a change programme there needs to be space and time to adjust or amend direction and expectations in the light of what is actually taking place.

  • You need to recognise that things never go as planned.
  • You need to be prepared for things to emerge.
  • You need to allow space so that you recognise emergent issues and have the time and resources to deal with them.
  • You cannot control/manage everything, but you can lead by providing clarity of purpose and direction


14. What has worked/succeeded in the past?

Learn from your own past experience. You do not want to re-invent the wheel. Your organisation will have delivered change in the past, so what works and what does not work?

  • Appreciative Inquiry is a method for looking at things with an upbeat rather than a problem-solving approach. It focuses on what works rather than what is wrong.
  • The problem-solving approach sees an organisation as a problem to be solved.
  • Appreciative Inquiry sees it as a mystery to be embraced.


15. And it’s not working!

Change rarely follows the predicted path!

  • Realise that everything will not go smoothly.
  • Be prepared to deal with things skilfully when they do go wrong.
  • Don’t rush on – take time to reflect.


16. Where does change go wrong?

This offers lots of places to look. It uses the Performance driver framework to look at areas in your organisation. It encourages you to look at your own leadership.

  • Are the vision, direction and purpose clear?
  • Are sufficient people committed?
  • Are your communication systems working?
  • Are you leading and encouraging?


17. How do you figure out what is wrong?

Listen to yourself and to others, and create a positive climate for change.

  • Pay attention to your intuition.
  • Be aware of what others are saying and feeling.
  • Encourage trust – create a blame-free environment.
  • Maintain involvement.


18. Change fatigue

Initiativitis... too much change. To overcome it you need to recognise it, especially in yourself. Before you can help others you need to get yourself in good shape.

  • If you are approaching burnout, the first step is to recognise and accept this.
  • Again – take care of yourself first before you try to help others.
  • Revisit your values.
  • What practical steps can you take to ensure your physical and mental well-being?
  • When you have sorted out your own change fatigue, then you can encourage, communicate with and help others.


19. How to get this change back on track

Change programmes and projects – especially large-scale information technology applications – often deliver late and over budget.

  • Return to the purpose. Do you and others really understand it?
  • Re-examine the context. Has the situation changed?
  • Review the resources
  • Revisit the timetable. Has something changed?
  • Renew commitment – starting with your own.