Exploring change in an organisation
“Everything flows, nothing stands
When you have decided what change you want to bring about you can then consider how people will react. There is a cycle of reactions to change: people go through this cycle in varying degrees of intensity. Some experience each stage very briefly – and move on to the next stage. Others can take a long time to come to terms with change.
The Transition Curve
The Transition Curve, as shown in this model adapted from Adams, indicates the stages that people undergo when they experience change.
A Framework for thinking about systems change
There are elements within an organisation, which, when active and present, can achieve change. Knoster, Villa and Thousand developed a model to show those elements and their effects.
A vision is the starting point for goals - it provides the launch pad for action and the parameters for problem solving. Once a vision is established, it is necessary to build the skills needed to realize the vision. Incentives help to motivate the workforce to acquire and maintain new skills. Building ‘buy-in’ engages them - it means they are now stakeholders.
Adequate resources allow the vision to be achieved. Action planning is a continuous thread across all phases - it is change process. Although presented as the final component of the change framework, it should be viewed as the foundation of the systems change process.
If any of the steps are missing, something will go wrong:
(Knoster, T., Villa, R., & Thousand, J. (2000). A framework for thinking about systems change. In R. Villa & J. Thousand (Eds.), Restructuring for caring and effective education: Piecing the puzzle together (pp. 93-128). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.)
Building on this model, Phillip Butler and Simon Crowe’s document Managing organisational change ‘Snakes and Ladders’: e-Learning Development for ACL Providers explores these elements further and looks at the opportunities, pitfalls and winning posts and offers suggestions and ideas.
The See-Feel-Change Model
John Kotter's highly regarded books Leading Change (1995) and follow-up The Heart of Change (2002) describe a helpful model for understanding and managing change. Each stage acknowledges a key principle identified by Kotter relating to peoples’ response and approach to change, in which people see, feel and then change:
(This section is adapted from Alan Chapman’s website (businessballs.com), which contains more useful advice about working with change.)
Techniques and tools for working with change
“Management means helping people to get the best out of themselves, not organising things.” Lauren Appley.
Key factors for working with change are:
There are many different techniques for working with and managing change, and you may already have a favourite. However, it can be useful to look at other ways that could work for you.
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham Maslow.
Force Field Analysis
Force Field Analysis is a management tool developed by Kurt Lewin, which is a useful technique for looking at all the forces for and against a plan for change. It may be useful when looking at the variables involved in determining the effectiveness of a change management programme, and when planning and implementing that programme.
The tool helps you make a decision about the important factors and identify changes you could make to improve those factors. Driving forces are those forces affecting a situation that are pushing in a particular direction; they tend to initiate a change and keep it going. In terms of improving productivity in a work group, pressure from a supervisor, incentive earnings and competition may be examples of driving forces. Restraining forces are forces acting to restrain or decrease the driving forces. Apathy, hostility and poor maintenance of equipment may be examples of restraining forces against improving productivity in a work group.
There are a number of ways of recording a Force Field Analysis, but probably the most common is to write the change or objective at the top of a piece of paper, and then draw a vertical line down the centre of the paper under the heading. Then:
When using the Force Field Analysis you can either assign a score to each force or use arrows of varying sizes to identify strength of each force.
This activity can be done as an individual exercise or in a group. It can also be done individually with a dispersed group of individuals and the summary circulated, for example by fax or email, or it can be done live with a remote group, for example by video conferencing or as part of an online discussion.
Each situation is unique, but there are some common patterns that emerge in change activities when you use Force Field Analysis:
The Solutions Focus
Mark McKergow and Paul Jackson have developed an approach to working with change that focuses on the solution, not the problem. Their approach encourages the change manager to focus on identifying what’s already working well and build on that, instead of spending time on isolating and ‘fixing’ a problem.
Solutions-focused methods involve identifying the Platform, the starting point for the change, then defining the Future Perfect, the ideal world that will exist when the change has been successfully made. Then you gather Counters - the resources, skills, etc to enable you to work along a Scale that measures your progress towards the Future Perfect. Often the small actions that are taken prove to be remarkably successful in this type of approach.
You can get more information on this approach at thesolutionsfocus.com.
A decision tree is an excellent tool for making financial or number-based decisions. The decision trees technique encourages a structured approach in laying out all choices and looking at challenges, values and probabilities of outcomes. Further information can be found on the Mind Tools website.
This tool uses a checklist to select and prioritise actions needed to implement a plan. The inventory of support and resistance uses a matrix to show the overview and the persons involved in the plan, and then to note levels of support and resistance. Further information can be found on the ESDToolkit website.
Word storm/word showers
This is one of the easiest
and quickest techniques. It works well for
individuals and groups, and can give some excellent
results in terms of innovative ideas.
While you are doing this:
When you have finished:
This technique was developed by Tony Buzan as a method for students to take notes during lectures, yet still be engaged in the lecture and also to retain the information and to generate ideas. The general idea is to use key words, colours and images to help generate ideas and to help organise ideas in a non-linear way.
Steps to creating a mind map:
For a detailed look at how to create a mind map, visit the Innovation Network® website and click on Mindmapping in 8 easy steps.
There is a range of mind mapping software currently available. Such software has been used successfully with students who have dyslexia.
Edward De Bono’s six thinking hats
When we are thinking about something we are usually trying to do everything at once. We might be looking out for dangers and difficulties – reasons why something will not work. We might be trying new ideas or looking for information. Most of us, when dealing with problems, tend to approach them from one angle only. So, some of us may have emotional responses that do not reflect a full understanding of a problem, which is not the most productive approach. Our feelings and emotions may interfere.
This is an excellent technique, which encourages us to be aware of how we normally respond to problems/change and then to actively change that response and to consider another way of looking at something. Look at the chart below and see which colour hat you identify with most of the time:
With the Six Hats approach, you are asked to consider which hat you wear most of the time, and then actively take that hat off when faced with a problem and put a different coloured hat on. This forces you to look at the problem from another angle, and to adopt a hat that helps to resolve the problem.
We can also use this approach in groups to great effect. The group identifies the problem and then looks at it with each person wearing the same hat. This can help move away from an adversarial approach towards one that encourages greater unity in exploring change or problems.
using the hats it is useful to apply them in
sequence. Start with blue to identify the task,
followed by black to ascertain the risks and
cautions, then moving to green to gather fresh
and innovative ideas.
IdeaFocus offers other lateral-thinking strategies.
Further tools and resources