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Christina Lattimer

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Keeping Complexity Simple: The 5 Step Change Process


Last week I discussed the underlying energy which determines whether a personal or organisational change will be successful or not.  I also linked the most popular change models which can be successfully integrated. Many of my clients know change theory and models.  What they often struggle with is just how to get started.  Today I discuss a 5 step process which can help you get started, helps you integrate the impacts from change into your current systems and develops accountability for success.   

In my capacity as a Leadership and HR Consultant, I am mostly called in when a problem has been encountered or a change is needed.    Consultancy is of course about understanding the problem, so a solution can be found.  Because I understand that organisations have a personality just like people, the problem is always unique to that particular organisation.   And so of course it follows, the solution is unique.

Over the years, I have developed a paradoxically, simple approach, to what can be perceived as complex organisational change.   Using my expertise in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) coupled with systems thinking I help leaders get to the crux of the problem, and help them find organisational solutions quickly.

The 5 step process allows leaders to look at the change from a number of different perspectives; zoom in and zoom out; satisfy both intuitive/visionary and auditory/sensor preferences for taking in, assimilating and communicating information. It also encourages a holistic decision-making process which embraces heart and mind, or logic and feeling preferences.

The process in itself is a simple one, which helps maintain focus, although the dynamics within the process helps clarify complexities.  The 5 step process can be used in any organisation to solve problems or to instigate change.

The 5 Step Blueprint

1.   Where are you going?

 There are usually three basic directions, and it’s important to find out exactly where the organisation wants to go and how it wants to travel.  It is vital to determine at the very outset the clear drivers for change.

  • A moving towards or progression
  • A change of direction – a moving away from
  • An alignment to perform better

You may find that there is a combination of ways to move forward, but asking the question in this frame helps uncover what is motivating the change and develops the basis for the next step:

2.   At What level does the change need to be made?

There are 6 basic levels these are linked to 6 logical levels of change used in NLP:

  • The purpose or the “Why” of the organisation
  • The Identity or the organisational brand
  • The level of values, beliefs or concepts of the organisation
  • Knowledge, skills and competencies
  • Behaviours and culture
  • Environment

While this can take some time to establish it is essential appropriate time is taken to identify the starting level.   If your starting point is level one, then it is likely all remaining levels will be affected.  If you start at level 4, depending on what that change involves, will determine whether any other levels are affected.  The next step is:

3.   How does the change affect each part of the organisation?

 In addition to the logical levels above, change impacts each part of the whole.  A successful change process will anticipate those impacts, consult on the detail, and make necessary adjustments ensuring the change is integrated across each identified impact.  The level at which the change occurs will determine the scope and depth of the impact.  Some impacts might be:

  • Relationships
  • Interdependencies such as linked projects or schemes of work
  • Policies
  • Processes
  • External partnerships and stakeholders
  • Resources
  • Customers

 4.   How will you know that the change is successful?

 What exactly does success look like?  Ways to frame this question can be:

  • Will the organisation be more profitable/deliver better products and or services?
  • How often, and with what method will this improvement be measured?
  • How will the customers/stakeholders/partners respond to change?
  • How will employees respond, what will they be doing differently?
  • What will the organisation look and feel like?
  • How will existing targets and results change?

5.   How will the changes happen?

If the change is a one-off intervention, a programme or project approach may be beneficial.   If it is more significant, then you may want to build the change into the strategic plan and build in outcomes and ownership accordingly.   For a systematic approach, you need to consider the following elements to ensure success:

  • Who will own the change?
  • What is the governance around the change? (Where do accountabilities lie?)
  • How will the change be communicated?
  • Who will be consulted and when?
  • When will success be realised?

As you can see, change is only as complicated as you want it to be.  Keeping it simple may not satisfy the more theoretical and analytical minds around, but cutting out complexity is the surest way to get results more quickly and in a way in which everyone understands.

Here at People Discovery, we are really excited to announce our Brand New Monthly Ezine The Extra MILE!  Click the link to sign up now so you don’t miss a copy!

Christina has managed people for twenty seven years and led hugely successful teams. She has worked with people at all levels in various organisations to help them achieve their potential, and she has been actively involved in the learning and development field in a number of different roles.

People Discovery is a Leadership Development coaching consultancy,  based in North East England, working globally.

By Christina Lattimer

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Christina Lattimer


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