Change Management Approach

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    Alan McShane

    Hi All,

    I have to do a 3 hour session with a group of 12 people on Change Management and the brief is to make them understand that the new system (albeit imperfect) is here to stay and that accepting the change will make their lives easier in the long run … I had thought of getting them to build a shared model or landscape of the new system to level set there understanding and then getting them to identify positive individual behavior that might ease and facilitate its roll out. I don’t want to leave room for criticism of the system as it is far from perfect but want to keep it positive with a “get on with it” message.

    Any thoughts?

    Marko Rillo


    Sounds very interesting. This might turn out well, but I would be slightly concerned about your brief (“new system is far from perfect”). Hence – it might depend on the internal dynamics of the team – if there is a feeling that they are losing something from abandoning the old system and there is a genuine concern that the new system has some problems then it might be a good idea to ask them to do two models – one depicting the old system and another the new? If they are prone to be critical of the new system then better have them voice the concerns and discuss them openly one by one and trying to focus on how to address the weaknesses of the system rather than try to only focus on “positive”? :)


    Eli De Friend

    Hi Alan,
    I completely agree with Marko’s comments. I often tell the story of how I became so impressed with LSP. Our boss was exactly like your client: he wanted to make some changes and he thought he could use LSP to “sell” it to us. Unlike the participants in your client organisation, however, we had no idea what our boss was cooking up and went it to the workshop with a positive attitude “Change is Good”. However, as soon as we started working through the various exercises and getting a clearer vision of the future landscape that our boss intended, we started to see the flaws in his vision. The new system was clearly worse than the old one and none of us would buy into it. Fortunately, our boss saw that as well and went back to the drawing board to re-design a new organisation, based on the lessons learned from the LSP workshop. A couple of weeks later, we held another workshop, tested out the modifications and agreed we could live with the changes.
    The challenge with using LSP is that it is a democratic process, not a dictatorial one. So imposing an idea is likely to backfire.
    Marko’s suggestion to ask how to improve the imperfect new system may generate some really valuable ideas that don’t “cost” much to implement.
    I’d be a bit concerned about running a workshop on such a hot topic in only 3 hours. There’s a strong risk that your participants leave the event feeling that they hardly had time to scratch the surface of their concerns.

    Good luck with it in any case,


    Pete Smith

    Hi Alan
    Eli’s concern regarding your only having 3 hours is a HUGE concern, and even more so if you start with a skills exercise to get them going. Surely sincere commitment is worth whatever time it takes? I’d negotiate the time limit with the client before it’s too late.
    Marko’s suggestion to ask how to improve the imperfect new system is a good one. In line with this thinking you might want to pose a question like “What can we DO to make the new system work?” Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, but leave the door open for further improvements. Move forward with positive action.

    Hope all goes well.

    Alan McShane

    Many thanks to you all …. I think the fact that I put this out there is for all the reasons you have mentioned and I knew I was being asked to do a difficult job – sell change! It is an NGO where the democratic process has been bypassed and the change is off and running for the last 6 months. My gut feeling is to not use LSP because of its power to open up problems that will not be treated and possibly get the client to change their approach or focus for any such session. I will keep you posted!

    Eli De Friend

    Hi Alan,
    Your gut feeling is no doubt the right one in this case.
    I another case, some fifteen years ago, where I was the simple employee and an experienced workshop facilitator was engaged to help the DEC European Headquarters come to terms with the acquisition by Compaq and the transfer of the HQ to Munich, the facilitator started off the workshop with a modified version of Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief. He was basically giving us permission to feel, angry, frustrated, defiant, despondent, etc. and said that his job was simply to move us along through the process as fast as possible, because the longer it takes to come to terms with the change, the more costly to the organisation. In that situation, the change was irreversible, like the one your NGO client is experiencing.
    How about using World Café for your 3 hour workshop? This would give a platform for the proponents of the change to present the wider context and reasons for the change, followed up a semi-controlled, semi-structured process to debate the issues that the staff are facing.
    You could offer a longer LSP workshop for a couple of months down the road, where the staff have digested the change and would need to start envisioning their place in the new organisational structure.
    All the best,


    Per Kristiansen

    hi Alan
    A quick note to follow up on some of the great input from Eli, Peter and Marko. Indeed time seems to be an issue, as well as the fact that the new system is not perfect. If you decide to go for LSP, I would suggest that use the methods power to get the truth in the open, label it and move on. I would always prefer to show respect to their worry and unhappines, allow to share it, show everyone listens, and then move one. Suppresing the unhappines and then trying to build implementation on that seems dangerious. So if using LSP, after skills building, I would have them build something like key worry or a myth/taboo related to the new system, and then move on to what value can the new system create, and then what kind of behaviour would help this. Due to time I would go less for shared model building and more for a landscape.
    My 2 cents

    Wiro Kuipers

    Hi Alan, I agree with Eli that your gut feeling is the right choice… I always try to work with a clear question that has various answers, depending on whom you ask. With this diversity of possible answers LSP often seems to be the tool to use. Your session seems to raise a lot of questions, whereas the answer is ‘set’; not exactly the situation where LSP is the best ‘trick’ – when you want to look at it that way.

    Joyce Miller

    Dear Alan – the experience that Eli conveyed was a workshop where I was the LSP facilitator. At the time, his boss had given me a remit to “sell” the change process to his senior management team, using an LSP-powered process. Thankfully the boss was just that little bit open enough to “trust the process” and what came out, i.e. an organisational structure developed by his management team reflecting some of the principles that he was trying to impose on them was a more satisfying and effective process than the imposition he had initially envisaged.

    Another lens that you could look through at your current challenge rests in “change management”. In IMD (in Lausanne, Switzerland) programmes, we often use a simulation called ChangePro, which is available commercially The simulation takes a morning, and is very powerful when used with a group.

    Some of the points that come through in the debriefing could be worth you and your client thinking about, especially with respect to imposition or what I would call a “decree”:

    Decrees works:
    • When there is a widely-shared sense of crisis
    • When the directive is sent by a trusted, respected leader (one who has confidence in the decision)
    • When directives are expected (e.g. in authoritarian organisations)
    • When top management is willing and able to enforce the directive
    • When only compliance, not commitment, is required

    I could share with you some additional material, for inspiration, that could be worth thinking about in terms of “where” (in the sense of being: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, resistors) are the NGO members who are targeted for the workshop. Change processes can work by understanding who to work with, watch out for, with whom to create alliances, how to use small successes to build support among the “silent majority”…

    This would be easier done in a 1:1 exchange as I would scan some materials and send these to as PDFs.

    Let me know ( if that would be helpful.

    Alan McShane

    Many thanks to all for the comments and ideas. It is truly inspirational to get input from you all! This is one of the reasons I love LSP and the community!

    Joyce, I will check out Change-Pro. I have a feeling it will not fit this client but I will look at this as a future toolbox option. Many thanks.

    Per, Nice ideas and the idea of landscaping has me thinking. … I have landscaped “issues” on the the Circles of Control / Influence so that the group realise that many of the issues are indeed under their control or influence and not 100% external. …. you have me thinking …

    Eli, World cafe might work … I was thinking of a poster session in groups to explore and share ideas as an alternative and World Cafe might work. Thank you!

    Either way, as is the case so often, time is the first thing to address and I will start the battle there.

    Regards, Alan.

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