On helping change happen

Change never works the same way twice. It’s unpredictable. Unsurprisingly that’s not a popular answer so here are some reflections based on many years of hands on experience in designing, delivering and being the victim of organisational changes.

1. If the sponsor of the change loses nothing if the change fails — walk away

2. If the sponsor of the change gains nothing if the change succeeds — walk away

3. Honour the history of the organisation — this is not a blank canvas

4. Pay attention to how you feel as you enter buildings and offices — others are probably feeling the same

5. Accept that the situation changes how other people and you behave — take care with judgements

6. Chat to anyone and everyone in the organisation anywhere and anytime you can — this is your barometer and thermometer of change

7. Work out loud — share what you’ve found, share ideas and constantly encourage generative dialogue as widely as you can

8. Read and experiment with as many change and psychology approaches as you can — they all have value

9. Be optimistic and realistic — people spot unrealistic change very quickly

10. Use the Gestalt cycle of change — it’s naturally agile

11. Take a first step — as soon as you start the field is changed so don’t plan the next steps in detail (just enough to keep the Project Manager happy!)

In the words of the poet David Whyte,

“Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.”

12. Be brave — take the step you don’t want to take that’s where success lies

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