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CHANGE ARCHITECTURE – DESIGNING THE BIG PICTURE

Every change process is unique. So each one must have an individual approach that suits the organization, the circumstances and the objectives. It is also important to find the right change architecture to avoid numerous possible stumbling blocks. Ideally, it is based on a holistic understanding of the organization, fresh ideas, change experience and methodological knowledge.

BETWEEN STABILITY AND FLEXIBILITY: AN INDIVIDUAL SOLUTION

Change is usually associated with uncertainty: What is in store for us? How will the planned changes pan out in real life? What does the change mean for the company, individual departments, teams and individuals? An appropriate change architecture provides for planning reliability and orientation in the given environment. Change processes are complex – not least because requirements cannot be exactly determined. The same applies to certain cause-and-effect relationships and to the question as to which solutions lead to success. Many things simply cannot be predicted, so there must be sufficient room for flexibility.

This balancing act between stability and flexibility must be given careful consideration. The solution lies in a change architecture that includes iterative procedures right from the beginning. That way, those involved have sufficient opportunity to take insights and developments that arise during the transformation into account – as well as reliable orientation.

Process Development as the Core of the Change Concept

Experience shows that good process design is an important component for the success of the change process. Every organization has its own specific needs and challenges. Equally, though, we can use our experience and knowledge of certain recurring patterns that help us to design the process well.

WHAT MAKES FOR GOOD PROCESS DESIGN

The Right Dosage

Change processes tend to involve high (economic) pressure, tight deadlines and a lot of work. This can overstretch the organization, especially in the initial phase. Finding a good balance between working on the change process and daily routine avoids overchallenging people and ensures sustainability.

Empowering Managers Right from the Start

During change processes, a great deal is demanded of managers and executives, both as role models and as implementers. In addition, there is often uncertainty regarding their own status. Empowering managers by means of change qualification and coaching at the beginning of the process pays dividends in terms of achieving objectives during the implementation phase.

Acknowledging Tensions and Enabling Discussion

The announcement of a change project tends to usher in tensions, conflicts and resistance. The process can and should be designed to take this into account: For example, different feedback channels should be made available. The change team should also develop strategies to deal with specific conflicts at an early stage.

Planning Retrospectives and Iterations

Regular retrospectives should be carried out, especially by the change team. These can already be factored into the change architecture so that they are binding and everyone takes them as a matter of course. Ideally, results from so-called ‘pulse checks’ (employee surveys) should be included in the retrospectives.

Making the Target Culture Tangible During the Change Project

Particularly in the case of cultural objectives (leadership culture, cooperation culture, corporate culture), it is important to make the envisioned goals tangible during the change process. If the organization is to become more agile, agile principles and methods should be applied during the change process.

ROBUST CHANGE ARCHITECTURE WITH CIDPARTNERS

cidpartners is a management consulting firm with offices in Bonn and Berlin. We have successfully facilitated change processes in organizations for more than a decade. Our mission: empowering companies to ‘win the change’ – and thereby to release the collective intelligence stored up in organizations and teams.

We bring both our change expertise as well specific communication competence to bear in designing and then facilitating the implementation of change processes. Together with our clients, we develop tailored management approaches, formats and architectures as well as effective strategic initiatives. Our broadly based team includes strategy and communication experts, experienced organizational developers as well as experts in agility, new ways of working, creativity and design. We look forward to getting to know you and helping your company to master change.

PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT: INTERVENTION AT THE RIGHT TIME

Change process development means two things especially: getting to know and understand the organization and developing a suitable concept. Both are based on iterative procedures.

Diagnosis and Analysis

A change project starts with an analysis and diagnosis phase. This enables us to achieve a deeper understanding of the needs of and challenges facing employees, managers and the executive board. Possible formats for this phase include interviews with key stakeholders, an online survey, focus groups and ‘readiness’ workshops. However, the analysis of the ongoing situation must continue throughout the process; such so-called ‘pulse checks’ are carried out repeatedly. The checks gauge the success of the measures – and the current needs of managers and employees are taken into account during the next phase of the process.

Concept Phase

The analysis and diagnosis phase is closely linked to the conception phase. In this phase, the first prototype of a change architecture is set up in close cooperation with the client. The change architecture contains basic measures for controlling, analysing, implementing and communicating the change – including recommendations for project management. The architecture is like a map of the change process and provides for orientation stability. The architecture includes large group events, workshops with the change team, feedback rounds with the Steering Board as well the monitoring of specific workstreams. This makes the interrelationships between individual measures visible and provides an overview of the process, even in complex projects.

Plan – Do – Check – Act

In dynamic environments, change architectures should always be reviewed and developed further according to the PDCA cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act). Large change processes are often highly complex and cannot be fully encompassed in the concept phase. This means that change architectures are ‘living’ entities that are repeatedly subjected to critical scrutiny and adapted according to requirements. Here are two examples:

  • In the course of the process, it becomes clear that the workstreams are insufficiently networked with each other. Response: Another X-Change workshop is initiated.
  • The pulse checks reveal gaps in people’s grasp of the change story. Further measures for change communication should now be considered.

The duration and frequency of PDCA cycles depend on the dynamics and complexity of the environment and the conditions prevailing in the organization. If the organization is already agile, there is every reason to make the change agile as well. Is the organization used to more classical methods of project management? Then it is important not to overburden the organization by designing too much agility into the change process.

Contact us

Dominique Wirl has a fine feeling for interpersonal interaction and keeps the big picture in view even in confusing moments.

Dominique Wirl

Consultant

+49.228-25 90 85.12

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