Thursday, April 03, 2008

BPM - Thoughts about change

BPM projects are change projects. And I want to address a number of thoughts about change.
1. Likelihood of change
Thinking about change (and mainly based on my sometimes painfull lessons on projects that actually did not lead to sustained change) I came up with a simple formula to make me once and for all remember factors required for change. They prevent me from being overly optimistic (as I sometimes have the tendency to run too far from the troops...)
The formula: Likelyhood of sustainable change =
Need x Awareness x Sense Of Urgency x Ambition x Priority x Vision x Resources x Courage / Risks

Need: is there current pain? Something that the people want to get away from?
Awareness: is there real awareness of the pain, the causes and the need to get away from it?
(sidenote: in learning theory you have the powerful model of:
UU - Unaware Unable - We are not able to do something, but unaware....
AU - Aware Unable
AA - Aware Able
UA - Unaware Able
In this case: are the key stakeholders at AU level?)
Sense of Urgency: do key people, with power, affected by the pain (directly or indirectly) really want to get away from it?
Ambition: is there an ambition to spend time, energy and resources to actually do something?
Priority: is this required change and the effort it requires a priority? Or are there other things more important?
Vision: do we have a vision how the TO BE situation looks like and how to get there (more about this later)
Resources: do we have money, people, some time, etc to get there?
Courage: do the leaders, excuses le mot, have the BALLS to actually stick their heads out and get it going?
Risks: how much risk is involved (the bigger, the less likely change will occur, unless.... Courage and Vision is available...)

My lesson: check this formula in the beginning of your efforts on a specific project/change.
And if the outcome is too low, ask yourself: Am I in control to influence the factors? If yes - make an effort, and check again. If no, or if after a number of interventions no significant likelihood is garantueed: go and pick another change worth fighting for.... And if you are working for a manager or client: tell them the outcome and tell them NO.
2. A word on Vision.
As a consultant I learned there are two ways to implement change:
1. Design approach
In this case, we approach the required change from a "blueprint" perspective. E.g. we try to work out a model of the to be situation as much as possible, then perform a gap analysis, leading us to actions required to get from the As-is to the To-be
Base assumption: the future can be designed in a blueprint. The vision can be expressed in a model of the desired state.
2. Development approach
In this case, we work with the people to develop, step by step, required change, and implement it, learning from our efforts, and then get on with the next step.
Base assumption: the future is what happens here and now, and we work together, without a blueprint, but with common goals. The vision needs to be expressed in "common ground", and we need to trust and enable people to create results, develop insights and learn/adapt.
Is there a prefered way? No. Use them both, when appropriate.
I am, for some reasons, too impatient to go with 2, hate unclarity and risk, so I love blueprint visions. That hinders me a lot.
However, a key lesson on 1: think about the number of factors you want to include in the blueprint. I often (and still do :-)) tend to include too many factors. Why? Because I find blueprinting so #^&#$! interesting. But I forget the key thing: the blueprint is there to create a direction, a vision and movement. People are better directed with a strong but simple blueprint, then one with 30 factors, covering 20 slides or so... The elephant is eaten in small pieces...
A word on following the change path....
In my naive starting years, I always thought change went like this:

Right. Of course, this was not reality. It was more like...

An important thing I learned was: if the path of change seems to wander away from the vision, do not immediately start spending lots of energy to push it back. Mischa, a collegue of mine, drew the diagram above and made it suddenly very clear: Groups of people can wander around, and do not follow straight lines. It can cost a LOT of energy (believe me, I learned :-)) to push back. A better way is to see where things are going (and they might suddenly turn...), and only if a certain boundary is crossed, you push back to get them back between the boundary lines.

But, how much clarity and detail is needed in the blueprint? As said, I tend to included too many factors, because I like it and gives me a feeling of direction and risk-reduction.
Some lessons here:
- The more factors you stick in, the more energy it will take you to make people see, buy in, and reach the change factor. Links back to likelihood of change....
- The more factors you try to stick in the blueprint, the more factors are likely to change. To my sad realization, I have to admit that even my blueprints are far from the reality that was finally delivered. Lessons on the way and changed circuimstances change the required TO BE, all the time...
So, that's why I am more and more a fan of incremental, iterative change, where we mix design and development approaches and create interim TO BE's that get refined on the way, as shown in the diagram...

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