Ideally, we would start from the beginning and work our way through each section, revisiting earlier sections throughout the change effort as we gather new information. That being said, sometimes we inherit a change process that’s already underway and we may face one or more constraint(s). So, while the framework follows a path, it is also flexible. This means that we can identify and use the components that offer us the most value in our given context, based on the reality on the ground and the constraints we may be facing.
Below are some questions that will help us understand, in a broad sense, areas we need to focus on for the change to be successful.
Questions on fundamentals and approach
- Do we have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of how to lead change successfully?
- Do we understand well the type of change we’re leading and some of the methodologies we can pull from?
- Do the behaviours of our leadership team and stakeholders indicate they have mindsets primed for leading change (this includes behaviours such as leading by example, developing relationships, and fostering an ongoing dialogue)?
If yes to all three of these, we can go to section 2 (Laying our foundation for successful change). If no to any of these, we should begin in section 1 (Navigating the world of change). The knowledge in section 1 is crucial when we develop our strategy.
Questions on the drivers and vision
- Do we understand why the change is necessary?
- Do we understand the vision for the future?
- Have we set the stage for co-creation and engaged all the key players in defining that vision?
- Have we outlined what success will look like?
*Note: In some cases (and more and more nowadays), we face emerging change. These are changes for which there is no clear picture or concrete target for the future. In circumstances like these, it may help tremendously to focus on building a platform to navigate the change together, including co-creating to the extent that this makes sense.
These are fundamental questions that we will need to have solid answers to in order to start some key aspects of section 2, such as building our case for change. The first question people will ask about the change is “why” – especially why this particular change and why now? We need to give thought to the reason behind the change to be able to give a sense of direction or set the stage (or platform) that will allow people to contribute to defining it. These are worth discussing within the leadership team more than once.
If you do have good answers to the questions above, you can start in section 2, with more solid footing.
Questions about our context and stakeholders
If the work in section two is completed well, we are in a good position to ask ourselves:
- Do we understand our current context?
- Are we ready for the change? Is the leadership?
- Do we know who is impacted by the change? Do we have strategies for addressing these impacts?
These questions form the bulk of sections 3 and 4 and are important as we continue to design our change strategy and plan. If we have good answers to these questions we can work through sections 3 and 4 at a faster pace and then move on to section 5, getting people on board. However, it’s important to revisit these questions throughout the duration of the project.
No matter our knowledge of change generally, and of our particular initiative, it is difficult to achieve success if we skip section 5. While section 1 to 4 can be relatively conceptual, section 5 is really where the rubber hits the road. The success of sections 6 through 8 (developing our plans, implementing our change, living with the change) depends greatly on how well we’ve done in the engagement activities of section 5. Getting people on board is a crucial step that should not be underestimated.
Questions to ask throughout the process
There is also a series of questions we want to ask ourselves throughout the process:
- How has each stakeholder group’s receptivity toward the change shifted as the things progress? How can we respond and adapt to this feedback to further increase our chance of success?
- Are we getting the results we expected from our activities? Are there ways we can do better?
- Are there deviations from our plans that we notice? Are these helping or hindering the process? Are there any tweaks we could make to our activities to improve the process?
If the answer to any of these is no, or unclear, it’s important to go back through the framework. We can revisit the particular sections (e.g., stakeholder assessment, mitigation plan, feedback mechanisms) that will help us re-assess our approach and make changes where necessary.