Change Design

by David King

In a nutshell

1. Preparing for change

Change doesn’t ‘just happen’: organisations going through change have to understand both the wider context and the key drivers for change as well as developing a clear understanding of what the future should look like.

  • If you know where you are going it is easier to get there.
  • The driving and restraining forces need to be fully understood.
  • The current pace of change reflects increasing pressures to improve efficiency and economy and to deliver value for money and quality outputs.
  • The context for change has a significant bearing on the approach to take and the timescales.
  • Preparing fully for change enables organisations to focus both on the realisation of benefits and the management of risks.

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2. Six-step cycle for planning change

Below is the six-step cycle used for successful major change:

  1. Explore all the possible (relevant) future scenarios, using the tools in this topic
  2. Test and validate the scenarios that best represent the target for change
  3. Compare the target for change with the current state to see what is missing
  4. Specify the changes needed to get you to your target (destination, in other words) in the most cost-effective and productive way possible, with maximum benefits and minimum risk
  5. Optimise – don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time; you can always backtrack and try another scenario that works better or has a more attractive return on investment
  6. Agree – continue until you gain a genuine consensus across all key stakeholders.

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3. First things first

The logical place to start is by figuring out where you want to be when the change is done.

  • Hold workshops, brainstorms and information sharing events to explain why change is needed and get input from a wide variety of stakeholders.
  • Consider why the current situation is not acceptable – share both the good and bad, what needs to change and why, balanced against what will be retained. You need to uncover all the different drivers for change. If you later find that you have missed one, and it turns out to be critical, then your change programme is unlikely to ‘fix’ it.
  • Establish what needs to change and how far-reaching the change should be: is it ‘strategic’, ‘tactical’ or ‘reactive’?

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4. The Kurt Lewin change model

This model describes three states that organisations go through:

  • Unfreeze – something needs to change; in the ‘unfreeze’ state, you should seek to ‘unlock’ the present way of doing things or ‘status quo’, create a new vision for the business, establish the change requirements and plan for implementing the changes
  • Move – plan and execute the required changes, managing implementation of all change products and ensuring delivery of the required benefits
  • Refreeze – the changes are fully implemented and consolidated and become the ‘steady state’ management and operation of the business or organisation.

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5. 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. It’s important to remain aware that the real reasons for change may not always be apparent and will need to be established.

  • 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.
  • Use creative thinking approaches if new ideas or insights do not come easily.
  • Select the main (sometimes called ‘primary’) viewpoints for further analysis; in other words, focus on those most relevant to the desired future state.
  • Use the why-what-how hierarchy tool to prioritise and select the most relevant and interesting viewpoints for further exploration.

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6. Why-what-how hierarchy

For each primary viewpoint – in other words, what you want the business or organisation to do – you should identify one or more reasons why you want to do it. Additionally, for each viewpoint, you should be able to identify possible ways that this might be achieved – in other words, how.

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7. Developing a vision statement

For change to succeed in an organisation, a vision statement must have meaning or relevance to everyone in it. An organisation’s mission statement is usually set at too high a level and is often too vague to be useful when addressing specific change requirements.

Soft systems methods suggest that you identify the following key elements, expressed in an easy-to-remember mnemonic – VOCATE:

  • Viewpoint – the ‘purpose’ or what the business wants to achieve
  • Owner – who ‘controls’ the business system and is accountable
  • Customer – who the business system serves or who benefits by it
  • Actors – the people who will actually do the work
  • Transformation – how the change we want will be effected in practice
  • Environment – the constraints or factors that influence how the business will operate.

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8. Blueprint models

Building models are a great way to add substance to the vision by helping others to better understand and visualise how the business will operate in its new ‘future state’. Models also enable more direct comparisons to be made with the current situation; for example, why and how is it different or what, specifically, do we need to change?

  • The seven-generic model suggests that every business ‘system’ should have these seven components – a purpose or objective, environmental constraints, a plan or programme, people, financial and other resources, business operations, performance monitoring, and review and control.
  • The seven components should be included when you construct your blueprint business model, based on your vision statement and illustrating all of the activities or processes that must take place for the business ‘system’ described to work.

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9. Capability analysis

Just having a blueprint business model is not enough. Understanding the full implications of change enables a fully informed decision process about where developments or investment are needed. This ‘capability analysis’ will provide the baseline against which specified improvements can be measured, post implementation. In capability analysis you need to

  • Establish the required ‘new capability’ for each activity defined in the blueprint model
  • Ensure each activity has (without exception!) both an input and an output – the activity represents the ‘transformation’ that converts one into the other. If either input or output is missing, you should query what the activity is for.

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