Defining Change Takes an Army Marching Together

    Sep 17, 2021 | Posted by Steve Ragg

    Everyone usually has some sort of individual intent behind any business changes they propose, but it's important that such changes are based on collective rather than individual intent.  Why? Because it's collective intent that makes change meaningful for people, and it's meaningful change that gets adopted and delivers results! 

    Defining change typically involves co-creation of requirements with subject matter experts (SME), but all too often those SME contribute as individuals, proposing changes based on their unique individual perspective rather than a collective view of the future that change should contribute to. 

    Time and time again we come across this with the organisations we work with:

    Changes are being defined without a shared vision, and with little sense of common purpose, and while such changes are doubtless meaningful to those who originate them, they are often pretty meaningless to everyone else! 

    Through our work we have identified a number of contexts where we see a need to ensure that change is based on collective rather than individual intent. We’ve now designed a Change Definition Workshop to help address this challenge. 

    Let's dig a little deeper into the army of individuals and teams who collectively contribute to and benefit from defining meaningful change...

    Leaders wishing to empower their teams

    Firstly, we have Leaders who wish to empower their teams to define and deliver change. These are leaders who recognise that continuously finding new ways to create value is central to their mission, and who see change as the essential mechanism through which that value comes to life. 

    Rather than dictating change from the top, they know they need to harness the intelligence, imagination and creativity of everyone to define the changes that will lead to success. Empowerment of their team when it comes to defining and delivering change is important to them, but they also recognise that with empowerment comes risk – risk that the collective result of empowerment is not a coherent set of complimentary and aligned changes that maximises the value created by the team going forward. 

    So, in this first context, it is critical that in addition to empowering their teams to define and deliver change, leaders also work with their teams to build a collective understanding of the future that change should result in. In such a context, shared vision and a systemic approach is vital, as are the shared, verifiable indicators of success needed to demonstrate progress. 

    Technical Teams 

    We then have technical teams wanting to maximise the business value that their technical solution delivers. 

    Technology is a hugely powerful enabler of change – the world is becoming digital and there are smart people everywhere coming up with technology-based innovations which have enormous potential to transform the value which organisations deliver. 

    The risk for these teams, is that those they need to adopt their solutions bring a wide variety of individual perspectives on how the new technology should work for them,  which are not aligned with the perspectives on which their solution is based. 

    If these diverse views are not brought in line with how the solution is intended to deliver value, they will likely lead to avoidable delays and costs and a significant reduction in benefit that the solution will bring. In extreme cases, solutions are “de-engineered” to deliver pretty much what the organisation currently does, but on a new technical platform, seriously undermining the benefit that can be achieved. 

    So, in this second context it is vital that technical teams work with the business teams to align them on a collective, future oriented view of how the solution delivers value in advance of introducing them to the detail of how the solution works. This ensures that when it comes to assessing the fit of the solution, assessment is against a collective future-oriented perspective rather than against the multiple and varied perspectives the team would otherwise bring. 

    The Change Project Team 

    In this third context, we see change project teams who want to ensure the change they are tasked to deliver is clearly defined and aligned with both organisational purpose and other related projects. For such teams, while earning a living is important, what they achieve through their work also matters.  

    While contributing to purpose is important to the teams themselves, they also know how important this is to motivating those on the receiving end of change. They see clear definition of changes, how they contribute to purpose and how they align with other changes as critical inputs to the Change Management that will drive adoption and realise value. 

    They also see clear definition of changes and associated success measures as being critical to their success, because it’s through these measures that they and their stakeholders will know when the finish line for their project has been reached. Such success indicators make success verifiable rather than subjective and are essential to monitoring and sustaining progress. 

    It is critical in this third context, that change projects or initiatives are defined based on their contribution to collective vision and purpose, and also that changes are defined systemically, recognising and making best use of the impact that changes to one part of the system will have on other parts.  

    Change Definition workshop 

    To help address some of the change definition challenges across the contexts above (and others), we’ve developed an interactive Change Definition Workshop. This starts with aligning participants around the reasons for changing, and the vision of the future that changes should cumulatively contribute to. 

    The workshop then goes on to support a team in visualising the desired results of change from a systems perspective, and identifying the verifiable indicators that will demonstrate when change goals are being achieved. 

    Potential changes are then identified and prioritised within a change backlog, prior to being organised into one or more projects, initiatives or increments for delivery. 

    The workshop is very hands-on, interactive and intended to create not just outputs but also the outcome of ownership and commitment to those outputs from those involved. 

    Our approach – which follows a clear 7 step process –  gets people involved in defining what needs to change, and ensures there is a common vision and systems architecture resulting in change initiatives that are aligned and complimentary 

    Throughout the workshop we make use of interactive collaboration technology to support breakouts, creating outputs in both graphical and structured data formats.  The majority of workshop time is devoted to generation, discussion, and consolidation of outputs in a combination of small group breakouts and overview sessions. 

    Find out more about our Change Definition Workshop or get in touch with the team here if you'd like to have a conversation with us. 

    Topics: Change Definition