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Tom Devane is a consultant, author, and co-author of provocative bestselling books on achieving extraordinary results using methods that systematically engage people in organizations and communities.
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    What Do We Do with Change Readiness Information?

    As discussed in an earlier blog, it’s very important to consider the specifics of an organization’s change readiness for a specific proposed change.  We presented specific things we’d like to find out.  And in another blog we talked about various cost-effective ways to collect valuable change readiness information.   The survey is but one common approach, and there are other cost-effective ones.  
    But now what, after we've collected that information?  What do we do with that information?
    One high leverage activity is to get people in a room and process the information together, discussing it from their own different viewpoints, and then agreeing upon a plan forward.  Who might do this?  The core change team, along with invited “extended” members (special invitees, like a director who may have critical technical knowledge of the proposed change, who may only attend a few meetings with the core team), would be excellent candidates to review this information and then develop action items to include in the overall work plan for the change.  Specifically, here are some questions to prime these conversations for the core and extended team:
    • Which groups, and which specific people might be the biggest resistors, how powerful are they, and how can we best get their cooperation in the change effort?
    • Which groups, and which specific people might be our biggest supporters, how powerful are they, and how can we best get them to actively support the change?
    • If the organization’s leaders operate as an interconnected leadership system, what is the best way to influence the system’s energy to actively support the planned change?
    • If the organization’s leaders operate as independent heads of their respective fiefdoms, where should we start first, and how do we best get the leaders involved in collective inquiry, collective meaning making, and collective action planning on a cross-functional basis for this particular change?
    • In the context of answers to the four previous questions what are the best strategies to satisfy the resistors and energize the supporters? (Examples include communications, training, workshops where people collaboratively put out ideas, prioritize them, and develop plans for moving forward, and role modeling and other actions by key leaders to demonstrate active support.)
    • Does any part of the initial proposed change need to be modified or re-sequenced to accelerate its implementation and acceptance?
    By thinking specifically about the issue of change readiness we can be better prepared to develop high leverage action items to get the change implemented.  Since I’m a big fan of visual presentation of data, in these analysis groups we’ll often color in boxes on the organization’s org chart (red for hot resistance, yellow for neutral, and green for accepting) and see what the patterns suggest we should do.  This is particularly helpful if a head of an organizational unit, for example, a VP or Director, holds a totally different view of whether or not the change should be supported.
    And finally, here’s an interesting variation hosting a typical meeting to have the group address the above issues.  Try using a proven template (“group method”) to spur creativity in the group.  One method I’ve used to do this effectively with a group is Open Space.
    For ideas on HOW to collect this all-important change readiness information, you can check out the blog Three Paths to Assess Change Readiness.


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