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Analyzing the environment

When we first looked at our drivers and barriers we were trying to get a sense of why the change was necessary. At this point we are able to do a deeper analysis of how these forces might affect the success of our change effort. This will help us to recognize, monitor and take into account the various forces that are helping and hindering our change process.

*Note: This work may overlap somewhat with our earlier discussions with stakeholders on drivers and barriers. This section will further validate what we’ve done earlier in the process.

How can we better understand the forces impacting our change?

We can start this exercise by looking back at our drivers and barriers, beginning with those with the highest impact and working our way down the list. As we delve deeper into our drivers and barriers we want to discuss in some detail the impact these various forces will have on our change.

Some of the forces will be unique to each project. That being said, in the federal public service we often have some common overarching themes. Some of these are listed below, with accompanying questions.

For example, we can ask ourselves about:

  • Budget priorities / departmental Mandate Letter
    • Where is the government planning to put its resources?
    • Do any of these priorities overlap with our change?
    • Do any of these priorities conflict with our change?
  • Legal/policy
    • What legal/policy levers exist that can support our change?
    • What legal/policy constraints exist that might hinder our change?
  • Programs and services
    • Are there other entities in the federal public service that offer a similar program/service? Will our change affect them? Can/should we bring them into the change process?
    • Are there downstream effects from the change we are making? Who might be affected (e.g., finance, official languages)?
  • Labour relations
    • Will our change impact our employees (e.g., work location, pay)?
    • What is the historical and current state of our relationships with HR and unions?

Anticipating unintended consequences

By working with leaders and stakeholders to understand the various levers and constraints impacting our change we can better anticipate and act accordingly. A key aspect of this exercise allows us to identify potential unintended consequences of decisions related to the change. Unintended consequences are events that follow an action that leads to a different outcome than expected.

By exploring various scenarios that could play out we can see both the potential positive and negative outcomes and then determine the best course of action. This can increase our chances of success and help us amplify positive outcomes and minimize negative ones. Phoenix is a good example of negative unintended consequences that weren’t fully explored and acknowledged prior to launch.

Next steps

With a deeper sense of our supporting and constraining forces and their potential impact down the road, we can fit these into our broader context using Systems Thinking. That’s what we’ll work on next.

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