Blank sheet exercises
Starting the "why change management" discussion
How do you introduce change management to a project team you
are supporting? You could begin with an accurate and precise
definition of change management and a sampling of the tools you
will be using. But that is not going to achieve the
fundamental shift in mindset
you need. Instead, start with a blank sheet of paper and
see if you can lead your team to the
realization that individual change is necessary and
critical for delivering results and outcomes.
This tutorial presents two "blank sheet" exercises -
activities you can complete anytime,
anywhere to jumpstart the
change management discussion. All you need is a blank sheet of
paper and a project that your audience cares about. Rather than starting
with "here is change management", start with a simple
analysis about the nature of change and of their project to
demonstrate why change management is a critical success faction
and should have a seat at the table.
Connecting project, purpose and people - the P-P-P-P exercise
The first "blank sheet" exercise is an approach for connecting the
project with the people who have to do their jobs differently.
The foundation of change, and the reason we need change
management, is that projects and initiatives
individuals to do their jobs differently. Whether the
initiative is focused on processes, systems, tools or job roles,
it will result in individual impacts. Whether the scope is a
single workgroup, a department or the entire enterprise, in the
end the change will only occur when individuals
embrace, adopt and utilize
the solution that is being introduced. Helping a project team
identify and inventory which employees have to do their jobs
differently is an important anchor and starting point for
effectively positioning change management.
The goal of this exercise is to show the connection between
the project, the intended outcomes and the employee groups who
will be impacted by the effort by slowly and purposefully
identifying four key elements of the change.
Steps for completing the P-P-P-P blank sheet exercise:
- Start with a blank sheet of paper.
- Divide the paper into four columns.
- Label the first column "Project name" and answer the
question: What is the project?
- Label the second column "Purpose" and answer the
question: Why are we changing?
- Label the third column "Particulars" and answer the
question: What are we changing?
- Label the fourth column "People" and answer the
question: Who will be changing?
- Finally, pose the question: How much of the "Purpose"
can be achieved if the "People" do not adopt the change to
their day-to-day work? Or, said another way, what percentage
of the "Purpose" of this project is dependent upon the
"People" doing their jobs differently?
Change management connection:
The connection to change management is how dependent the
"Purpose" is on the "People" changing their behaviors. For
every project or initiative, success is determined by how
effectively those individuals in the final column adopt and embrace the change to
how they do their jobs. When you use the exercise with a project
team, you are forcing them to think about the
individual impacts of their project or initiative. The
transition for positioning change management sounds something
like this: "Thank you for helping me
better understand the initiative and the impacted groups for
this effort. Now that we have an inventory of who has to adopt
the change for the project to succeed, I can begin creating change management plans and
activities to actively engage these groups."
On a single sheet of paper, this exercise allows you to make
the connection between the
project, the intended outcomes, the specific technical changes
and the individuals and groups who must adopt the change.
Two levels of change - future states exercise
The second "blank sheet" exercise is based on the
of change - the Current State, the Transition State and the
Future State. The idea of change occurring in three distinct
phases is found in most change management literature, dating
back to the cultural anthropologist Arnold van Gennep who
studied rites of passage in cultures around the globe in the
early 20th century. From Kurt Lewin to William Bridges, Richard Beckhard to Daryl Conner,
Jeanenne LaMarsh to Prosci - the explanation of change as a
movement (Transition) from how we had done things (Current) to a
new way of doing things (Future) is prominent. Even many systems
used to develop technical solutions are based
on the delta between an "as is" (the Current State) and a "to be"
(the Future State).
The goal of this "blank sheet" exercise is to extend
the thinking one more level by adding the perspective of
Individual Future States.
Most project teams and business leaders think about the Future
State from an organizational perspective - documented and
managed processes, a production process with fewer errors or
variations, an integrated data system instead of disparate
legacy systems, etc. While this is certainly a necessary
perspective, all of these projects and initiatives ultimately
impact individuals and how they do
their jobs. Said another way, as the project or initiative is
implemented, individual employees have to move from their own
Current State, through their own Transition State to their own
Steps for completing the future states blank sheet exercise:
- Start with a blank sheet of paper.
- Draw a line down the middle to separate the page into
- On the left hand side, describe the Future State from
the organization's perspective that the project or
initiative is trying to achieve (this is usually an easy
task for a project team or leader).
- On the right hand side, describe the Future State for
five individuals impacted by the change - how their own job
will be different after the project is implemented.
Change management connection:
The change management connection for this exercise is the
perspective of change on two levels
- the organizational level
and the individual level. In the exercise, you use a fairly
simple and accessible model (the three states of change) as the
foundation for examining the Future State at the organizational and the
You may find that your project team can
instantly define the Future State from the organization's
perspective, but struggle to even begin defining individual
Future States. The positioning of change management might sound
something like: "Thank you for helping
me start to look at the numerous Future States that this project
is going to create. Change management is about enabling and
encouraging impacted individuals to reach their own Future
States. By working together on the project, we can achieve the
organizational and individual Future States that will result in
the improved performance we are trying to achieve."
This exercise can be eye opening for many who have always
thought about change strictly in terms of the organizational
perspective. On a single sheet of paper you are able to
introduce the individual level of change and start the discussion
about how to best facilitate these changes.
The case for change management can certainly be made more
analytical, more data-driven and more rigorous. However, the first
step in building buy-in and commitment to change management is
helping your project teams redefine how
they view change - away from a strictly technical
view of the project or initiative and toward a more complete
view that includes the individuals who have to ultimately
embrace and adopt the change.
The two exercises presented in this tutorial are designed to
help you position and anchor change management for a project
team with a simple analysis that starts with nothing more than a
blank sheet of paper and a project to consider.
Did you miss one of the "Case for change management"
Module 1 - The case for change management
overview: results and outcomes
Module 2 - The individual is the unit of change
Module 3 - Correlating success and change management
Module 4 - ROI of change management
- Costs and risk of poorly managing change