Change Design

by David King

Exploring viewpoints

Viewpoints are expressions by stakeholders of the ultimate purpose, role or aim of the business organisation, offered from a variety of different perspectives, for example:

  Examples
  1. Our primary purpose will be to provide excellent information services, on demand, through a variety of media
  2. We will provide affordable and flexible information services that match customers’ needs.

The first addresses quality and range; the second focuses on price and need. Both are legitimate perspectives of the purpose of an organisation, but expressed from two different viewpoints. Viewpoints help an organisation to explore different possibilities and, ultimately, to select the most relevant and interesting ones for further development.

Symptoms versus underlying causes

When exploring viewpoints, you must endeavour to work with your key stakeholders to explore useful and informative viewpoints of the desired ‘Future state’ (as opposed to how things currently work). There’s a potential pitfall here: the exact scope and nature of this future state will be influenced by many different drivers, so stakeholders may express their perspectives on a desirable future by responding to symptoms (in other words, the visible effects of problems or failures in the current state, such as ‘our systems are too slow and cumbersome’) without understanding the root causes of the underlying problems or failures. It’s important to remain aware, therefore, that the real reasons for change may not always be apparent and will need to be established.

How to capture viewpoints

  • Hold a series of workshops and working sessions to involve as many key stakeholders as possible.
  • Use Mind Mapping® techniques to capture the different viewpoints of stakeholders.

An example of a ‘mind map’ of viewpoints

  • Use creative thinking approaches if new ideas or insights do not come easily (see Creative Thinking).
  • Select the main (sometimes called ‘primary’) viewpoints for further analysis; in other words, focus on those most relevant to the desired future state. Other viewpoints may still be valid, but they may not represent the principle reason why the organisation or business area exists. An example of a primary viewpoint might be ‘to deliver expert clinical services to patients according to need’, whereas a secondary viewpoint may be ‘to provide patients with an accessible and comfortable environment in which to be treated.’
  • Use the Why-what-how hierarchy tool to prioritise and select the most relevant and interesting viewpoints for further exploration.

The most useful viewpoints can now be developed further as the basis for creating a new future state vision for your organisation or business area. It is quite likely that this vision will emerge as a composite of all the ‘best bits’ from the exploration of different viewpoints, rather than from just one single viewpoint.