BRM Tools: Change — How will it be perceived?

Change. Love it or hate it, there can be no escape. One of the more interesting aspects is that those who like to bring about change are often the most resistant to it.

If you’re a parent (or just remember your childhood) then “It’s not fair” will be a familiar refrain. I often remind my children that their Grandmother would always respond “life isn’t fair!” In this, and most other things, she was right. As a leader, ou can play a part in helping people understand the change in a way that shows even if it isn’t fair, it has been considered.

In many organisations, even if they’ve become less hierarchical on a day-to-day basis, change is nearly always initiated in a top-down model. A group will have sat in a room and worked through the decision. Ideally, the views of those impacted by the change will have been heard. Even better there will be an experienced Change Manager working with the sponsor to secure the benefits of the change. Despite all the good work and good intentions, the reaction of those impacted by the change can still come us as a surprise.

The Change Perspective Game is designed to help anticipate some of this and raise the issues early, and help leaders to prepare the response rather than react.

Approach

This tool is used after you have decided what the scope of the change is and have an understanding of what the impact is going to be. You need to know who the actors in the system changing are and ideally some appreciation of the current situation.

Everyone in the group takes a number (if you’re working with more than six people you’ll need to either split out, find a dice with more sides, or work together!) between one and six.

To each person or group, assign one of the roles in the system.

Ask these questions (plus any others you think would help):

  • What is your immediate impression of the change?
  • How would you make it better for your role?
  • What are the benefits for this person/role/function?
  • What could go wrong?

The final question is to ask “would you take this job?” If the person is currently responsible for, or in that role, this is less relevant.

Having done this initial round, you then get everyone to roll a dice and take a new role. Ask the questions again. Repeat the process as much as you like or until you feel that you’re no longer learning anything new.

It may be appropriate to stop and revisit the change plan to incorporate some of the things you uncover before then repeating the exercise.

There is one other question which is about what could go wrong and risk but there is another approach suggested for taking a deeper look at that. This is the “Rocks at glasshouses” game and will be detailed in another post.

Why do this?

We all think the change we’re sponsoring is the best one. This approach forces people to think about it from someone else’s perspective. The final question: “Would you take this job?” forces people to consider if they’ve done everything they can to make it a good situation for the individuals impacted. If we’re not prepared to be the recipient of the change is it right for us to impose it on others?

Note: as leaders, we make uncomfortable choices, not all change will be well received and sometimes it will be difficult for people. The purpose of this exercise isn’t to stop that change from happening if it is the right thing to do. Rather, the intention is that it prepares leaders to deal with the resistance and help secure the benefits of the change. Many changes get stuck because there is a “shock” that people don’t respond in the way you thought they would do.

Written by

An experienced senior digital business leader with experience of delivering transformative change.

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