Change Facilitation – The new ‘All-in’ approach to change

Every era needs to adopt the most suitable approach to change that caters for its needs. In 1995, for example, John Kotter published the 8-step change model [1]. At this time, organisations typically adopted a top-down structural approach, which aligned well with Kotter’s change model as this model ensured that leadership had a well-established approach to change that then cascaded down the organisational structure.

As time went on, organisations started to realise that it is in fact employees who are the key component to initiating creative ideas and making them happen, therefore, many organisations started adopting a bottom-up approach. In 2006, Jeff Hiatt published Prosci’s ADKAR model [2], this aligned well with this new approach as it too was a bottom-up approach to change.

So which change model works best in 2019?

During my 3 years of research in change facilitation, after interviewing leaders on how they have made their changes stick and while working on multiple change projects, it is clear that one approach cannot work without the other.

We need an all-in ‘Change Facilitation’ approach 

Having a ‘change facilitation’ approach, that connects both leadership and teams is proven to be very effective [3].

An example of an all in ‘change facilitation’ approach is our ‘Six Principles of Change Facilitation’, which are as follows;

  1. Explore the need for change and its impact on the organisation.
  2. Establish the change vision and success measures.
  3. Engage all stakeholders onto the change journey.
  4. Evolve from problem-finding to problem-solving.
  5. Empower team members by seeking to understand them.
  6. Embed the change using an organisation-wide change framework.

These Six E’s work well in combining process with outcomes, meaning they will appeal to leaders, managers, project managers, change managers and team members. We have found that by introducing these Six E’s to teams during our one-day masterclass, it provides them with a completely different way to tackle change.

“What I learnt is that working like this, is a complete change in mindset for me, and it means that it’s not just what I think is right, but what the group thinks will work best.”

 Sue-Ann Stanford, Director at JMC Academy

So now that we know the how (process), let’s look at the who (the facilitator). What makes an exceptional change facilitator?

Qualities of the ideal change facilitator 

  • Objective- They can be internal or external to the organisation, but must be objective, meaning they cannot be directly involved in the change project.
  • A change expert- Not an industry expert. The change facilitator needs to know change, but does not need to be an expert in the field in which they are facilitating change. This ensure they remain objective, rather than impose their views on they think should be done.
  • Facilitator not doer-  They would facilitate the change process but not actively take part in it. This approach ensures that teams have external support and facilitated direction, but are equipping themselves with the ability to make change happen and not rely on someone to do the change for them.
  • Descriptive not Prescriptive- They would transfer general knowledge and evidence behind change, however when it comes to how to make the change happen within the organisation, they would simply facilitate discussions among teams, who would come up with how they will make the change happen. When teams come up with the ideas and the processes, they are more likely to take ownership and make these changes happen.
  • Engaging- They use stories often, they can quickly call upon facts and figures that help solidify a point. They use a variety of different visual aids. Their PowerPoint slides should not have more than 30 words per slide! They should also never be reading off a slide or a paper.
  • A conflict instigator- I know, this sounds terrible, but a good facilitator will not shy away from a heated discussion, in fact, they will promote the airing of concerns, but in a controlled way that leads to consensus building and a win/win solution.
  • A pragmatist- Building the team’s knowledge of change is crucial, now combining this with practical strategies to implement change- that’s the holy grail. Teams need to walk away with the ‘why’, ‘know-how’ and the ‘how-to’, when it comes to implementing change.
  • A people connector- They would facilitate discussions among leadership to align the change vision to the overall strategic vision as well as ensuring key stakeholder buy. They would also work with middle management to ensure they are empowered to take their teams effectively through the change process and they would work with teams to identify and overcome their concerns as well as embed the change within their processes and systems.

The best way to measure if a change workshop was a success, is that  teams are inspired to make change happen, and have practical steps to make change stick.

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