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Part 2 - Re-designing Change Management Models for Humans

Re-designing change to stop the fear and inspire hope.

Yesterday, in the first blog, I discussed the eight primary models for change management. In summary, existing change models are like companies smashing the emotional emergency brake of fear, while shifting the car into drive, and expecting to race across the finish line. (Yesterday's post lays the foundation for this post) It is evident the models, unintentionally centered around the human emotion of fear, need re-designing. Their 70% failure rate is proof. The following is my proposed theory for re-designing existing models and infusing them with critical aspects of design thinking to provide a new model. A model that I hope will significantly serve companies in their next change project.

Opposite to fear is hope. While fear represents what could go wrong - hope is fear's antithesis. In contrast to fear, hope is about the reality we wish to see in the future. According to an article published online by Psychology Today:

Hope fuels the drive to succeed. When people have hope, they look forward for things to come. Goals, especially significant ones, give people reason to hop out of bed in the morning. Hope energizes and motivates despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

It was my hopes that got me out of bed this morning to write this post. My belief that this new model will bring

  • renewed inspiration to companies seeking innovative solutions to their challenges

  • energy and excitement to everyone in an organization facing change

  • innovation in every area (product, services, processes, and people structures)

  • collaboration, and creative problem solving to every level within a company

  • unity among teams for a common cause versus the internal competition

  • financial success to companies and their employees alike

  • joy back to work environments.

First, start with hope.

To bring energy, excitement, and enthusiasm to change, it has to start with hope. It's obvious; we need more than a session of wishing for the future we want to see. Undoubtedly, we need intentional, strategic questions and parameters from leadership. Such that allow employees outside the c-suite to move from dreading the unknown to dreaming of the possibilities. Vital prompts shift the collective from fear of the unknown to find the undiscovered opportunities that advance the organization's mission. In effect, a subtle shift from the fear of change to the excitement of innovation.

Unlike the negative emotions conjured up when people think of change, positive feelings are the secret sauce of innovation. Thoughts of innovation bring up the excitement of possibility, the joy of creativity, and an air of adventure. Indeed, there is inherent fear (excitement really) involved. Excitement and inner courage to move forward in spite of the unknown. An act of courage because innovation embraces failure and sees it as learning or experimentation. The design thinking method of testing has a proven track record of success. This shift from change to innovation allows us to start with hope instead of fear. Innovation enables companies to release the emotional emergency break of fear and proceed to the success they envision.

Hope is a starting point, not a strategy.

Consequently, hope is a starting point, not a strategy. Utilizing the word innovation is more than a mind trick to shift emotions from fear to excitement. Innovation is the bedrock of success in business in today's marketplace. In the background of today's successful innovation runs the engine that makes it possible - Design Thinking. Up until this point, design thinking has been responsible for much of the product and service innovations we see in the marketplace. However, its usefulness to change management has been mere lip service for blog posts and not packaged in a tangible model that organizations can take action on.

Thus, it's time to introduce the human-centered organizational innovation model. The human-centered organizational innovation model to bring useful sections of existing models and the process of design thinking together.

Human-Centered Organizational Innovation Model

In the following paragraphs, I provide a brief outline of each of the steps pictured in the model. If you have valuable feedback or quick questions, please share them in the comments below. For lengthier discussions or questions, please request a complimentary consultation.

1 - Strategic Vision

First, begin with a vision question. This vision is not the general vision statement for the company. Although, it should support it. It is a vision question. The vision question launches the dreaming process for your innovative teams. A question that will expand their awareness beyond solving existing problems to creative possibilities. Specifically, design thinking proposes questions as "how might we...?" For example, depending on the project scope here are a few "how might we" questions:

  • ... streamline internal communication to expand the time spent connecting with clients?

  • ... create a hiring process that feels more human and unbiased?

  • ... expand our market and what we offer affiliated with X existing service?

  • ... reduce our waste in the manufacture of product X?

Also, this section includes developing an established list of constraints. Discovering restrictions after the work has started is frustrating for team members. Much like fear, avoidable frustration is a negative emotion that is not conducive to innovation. And removing as many frustrations upfront paves the way for a smoother innovation process. There are at least five constraints to address before launching your teams. These include organization strategy, technology, market factors, resources (time, money, people), and regulations. Outlining constraints not only avoids frustration but is proven to enhance creativity.

Lastly, the vision step should include setting the criteria that your innovation teams will be evaluated on