Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Golden Mean: Balancing Change Action with Change Diagnosis

I recently completed an assignment that reminded me, once again, of the delicate balance between Change Action and Change Diagnosis.   Here's what I mean:

Change Diagnosis is that set of actions we take to clearly and carefully understand and define the change.  We conduct interviews with stakeholders, both high and low, near and far; we talk to technology team members to ensure we know the organizational impact of a new system; we conduct focus groups to check the pulse of the organization regarding the change, and, we gather data to determine issues of change resistance and the root causes of those issues.

Change Action is the launching and implementation of the change, taking all the designs and putting them into practice.

Too much diagnosis often leads to paralysis which leads to non-action which leads to participant cynicism.   Shoot-from-the-hip action means a lack of preparedness, incomplete plans, and ineffective communication.

Key elements of change diagnosis?
  1. Defining the scope and definition of the change so everyone understands what's going on.
  2. Ensuring a team is in place to manage the details of the change.
  3. Having an effective leader in place ... 
  4. Having a thorough communication plan ...
  5. Knowing those who will support and those who will oppose the change ...
Key elements of change action?

  1. Executive launch built from the diagnosis
  2. Announcement of the team
  3. Clarification of the change
  4. Two-way communication channels
  5. Management of the naysayers ...
Here's the tricky part:  Launching a change can happen at any time without the least bit of diagnosis.  (Executives do it all the time!)  Conversely, waiting too long to launch (and complete) a change will waste precious motivational energy.

So ... what to do?  Ensure the key elements of the diagnosis are done thoroughly but as quickly as possible.  And once you act, finish the change as rapidly as possible.

Delaying change implementation allows people to ossify a position; that is, they start building psychological and structural barriers to prevent the change from happening.

Move quickly, yet deliberately.  That's the Golden Mean.  

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