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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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    Main | City Slickers Meets the World of Strategic Planning – Part 1, the JUST ONE THING Challenge »
    Wednesday
    Jun192013

    The Big 4 Questions to Ask When Scoping a Change Effort

    The scoping part of any change effort is one of the key linchpins for success.  Whether the change is a new strategy, a huge technology implementation like SAP, or a local Lean Six Sigma improvement effort, it's important to get the scoping done correctly Here are four questions I think are important to ask, whether you're an internal or external change agent:
    • What are the target business outcomes and new behavior outcomes?  It's best to start with the end in mind, both from the hard side and the soft side.  Behavior outcomes, though often neglected, are critical to state here because often meeting the new business targets requires some significant changes in behavior, and at many levels within the organization.  For example, with the implementation of a new enterprise-wide computing system like SAP, typically error correction is moved closer to the source of where work is done, and this causes some initial discomfort for accountants.
    • What are the boundaries for the change?  People need to know what's on the table for the upcoming change, and what's off the table that needs to be avoided.  For example, if a division of a software company is developing a new strategy and the CEO wants them to steer clear of being in the cable industry business, this needs to be stated up front.
    • What’s the general approach to the change?  It's helpful for people to know the big picture approach.  This may be something like John Kotter's high-level 8 step process with local work tasks added in, or a more detailed methodology like Prosci's ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement), or a custom-developed approach.  We know from numerous neuroscience studies that people tend to be uncomfortable with uncertainty, so it is very helpful to share a general roadmap to reduce a bit of people's uncertainty, at least where we can.
    • Who needs to be engaged, and how?  It's great to know, up front, who will likely support the change and oppose it.  It's also important to find out from the sponsor how much engagement inthe process he or she wants to see, and what productive engagement might look like.  Perhaps this is a difficult change that requires many people to change their current mindsets and behaviors, and the sponsor wants a high level of people's engagement in the process.  Or, perhaps the company is dealing with a mandated change by a government regulatory body like FDA or the FAA, and the change is more a matter of intructing people what to do by the required deadline.  For either situation, it's helpful to have a conversation about engagement with the sponsor at the start of the effort.
    Note: the sponsor doesn't necessarily need to know all these answers during the first encounter.  Often through dialogue the sponsor and lead change agent each contributes to the crafting of the answers.  And if there's already a coalition of people who support the change, they can also be brought in to help develop detailed, well-thought out answers to these four questions.

     

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      Tom Devane & Associates, Inc. - Blog - The Big 4 Questions to Ask When Scoping a Change Effort

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