Framework 98 Implementing Change


Need to answer the following simple, personal, self-preserving questions, ie

"...How will it affect me? Will it destroy a way of life or just disrupt a sense of comfort? Will it threaten jobs or will it just be perceived as threatening jobs? Does it matter if it is a perception rather than reality..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

There are no guaranteed money-back solutions in implementing change

Your change strategy will depend upon the present situation, your past history, the desirable future and degree of difficulty in the journey.

It is important that the target audience gains some degree of control over the process while implementing the change


1. Understanding the Change

Need to be able to answer the following questions to understand the change

Why is the change necessary? (need to understand all the reasons for the change)

What/who is the foreign element? (This will disrupt the status quo and needs to be identified correctly, ie what is the real agenda?)

What happens if we don't change? (What are the consequences of doing nothing? How certain are we of the consequences? Once people understand the real necessity to change, they are more accepting of the change.

Who is affected by the change? (Identifying precisely who the change will impact on is crucial to any change project, ie who will the change affect? Why should they change? What are the specific issues relevant to different stakeholders affected by the change? Are they convinced that the change will have an impact on them? Some people live under a belief that the change will not impact on them personally)

When will the change take place? (implementation of change needs a deadline, priority, budget, etc; the more imminent, the more people can relate and respond to it)

Why now? (What forces the change to need to happen now rather than later on? Why is it important to act now? Why didn't we act earlier? The answers to these questions provide justification, or not, for the change.)

2. Establish rapport

Need to sell the change. Thus people like to buy from people they like, trust, etc. It is an exercise in diplomacy!!!!!

Don't have all the answers (change agents should not dictate the solutions but encourage ownership by users, ie change owned by the users has a better chance of success than one forced on users)

Support empowerment (empowerment gives the target audience the option to make decisions; the greater the decision-making is in hands of the target audience, the greater the sense of ownership; change agents have the responsibility to create this empowerment environment, ie supply information, facilitate conversations, etc)

Don't ask for 'buy-in' (change agents don't give solutions as this will work against empowerment)

Seek out their vision (target audience needs to have ownership of where they are heading; change is resisted if we feel powerless)

Identify influence leaders, early adopters & resistors (need to get influencers on side as other look to them for guidance; focus on them and less on other groups like innovators, resistors)

Change thinking: Change agent .vs. inflictor of change (as a change agent, we need to appreciate people's concern about leaving the status quo behind; this will reduce people's reluctance to leave the status quo

3. Understand status quo

To create something new, ie change, involves an act of destruction, ie replacing the status quo; but need to respect the existing status quo.

How long did it take to establish? (the older the status quo, the more difficult to remove, ie more inertia has accumulated with more emotional investment)

What investment/sacrifice did people make to achieve it? (the more people have invested in the past, eg time, money, etc, the harder to change, ie to invest in the future)

How many people subscribe to it? (how widely is it shared? Is it part of the corporate culture, or just confined to the local/department/region?)

What values does it encompass? (is it part of the personal values/belief? Culture can be difficult to identify until you examine the relationships; it is most visible when you try to change it.

What mythologies support it? (stories re-enforce culture; need to address the stories)

Who are the heroes & heroines? (who are the people over the years who have stories about them ingrained in the culture? Need to connect with these stories)

4. Create desire to change

The status quo can lull us into a false sense of security and we need to be awakened from out of our slumber, ie

"...a body at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

What problems exist in the status quo? (every status quo has imperfections, like annoyances, dissatisfactions, etc that create points of leverage for change, ie what are the causes of this dissatisfaction? Most target audiences know the answers to these questions)

What are the alternatives? (as there is more than one way to do things, look for alternatives; why did we chose this current status quo or did it just happen; what other options are suitable?)

What are the personal benefits to changing? (WIIFM; ask people to name personal benefits of the current status quo and new situation)

What problems would the change solve? (will the proposed change solve existing problems? How? If not, why not? List benefits of change)

What core values would change reinforce? (what will the change reinforce? ie stay the same; include trivial things; this is very powerful as people like stability)

What opportunities would change create? (change is more than escaping the status quo, it is about creating new opportunities; need to inform, etc the target audience of these opportunities; communicate what is going on and why)

How much should you communicate? (the task of communicating never ends, ie

"...It's difficult to communicate 'enough' during change. It's impossible to communicate 'too much..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

5. Reinforce new behaviours

When doing something new it takes a while to get it right, ie you are learning what does not work

Reward all successes (every little success need to be rewarded; initially we make many errors with limited progress.; importance of visible, public and sincere congratulations to encourage and motivate others to learn new competencies)

Reward all attempts & failures (reward all attempts at progress, ie to learn new ways)

Rewards all questions (asking questions is a sign of involvement by seeking more information; find time to answer questions)

Acknowledge those who resist (not all questions are subversive. "Why is this change necessary" Is an indicator of protecting status quo)

Don't ignore those in denial (it takes time for people to change old habits; don't punish them for the old ways)

6. Create closure

As developing a new status quo is a long and difficult journey, need to celebrate, ie good-bye to the past and hello to the future.

Celebrate achievements (as change is a continuous process with organisations undergoing a storm of changes, it is important to recognize when a particular change is completed; celebrating

"...requires an attitude and understanding that people work better when their efforts are appreciated..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

Hold a good-bye party for the passing of a status quo (people value rituals by ending the old ways in a meaningful ceremony like burning the old manuals, holding a wake, etc; this also demonstrates respect for the old ways

Funerals respect the dead and allow the living to move ahead (encourage open and respectful talking of the past)

"...our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better..."

Sydney Harris as quoted by Peter de Jager, 2010

(for a variation of Virginia Satir Change Process – see framework  102, ie Adaptive Change Framework)

(source: Peter de Jager, 2010)


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