5 From Idea to Outcome
In Chapter 3 we discussed paradigms concerning change: What exactly does the concept of change mean to an individual (which color?), and is this meaning experienced consciously or subconsciously? In Chapter 4 we looked at a method for change: Which main elements seem to be constant irrespective of how people view change? What does a road map for change processes look like? In this chapter we will delve yet a little deeper: What exactly do you, as a change agent, do in each specific phase of a change process? How do you steer through the four phases from idea to outcome? This chapter probably offers the change agent in the field the most practical advice. During external and in-house courses in change management we have noticed that most change agents wrestle with the question of how to structure each phase (Figure 5.1). How do you find answers to questions such as the following: • What exactly is the problem? How do I uncover that? Why are things the way
they are? How do I make sense of what I see? These questions lie at the heart of the diagnosis, and we deal with them in section 5.1. • Where can you find a driving force for change? H o w do you achieve leverage: maximum effect through minimal effort? O n what do you base your approach and what do/should you call it? These are questions related to change strategy. We address them in section 5.2. • What constitutes an integral, consistent, and feasible plan? H o w can you have activities building on each other rather than interfering with each other? H o w do you compartmentalize and phase all the activities, and how do you keep track of them? Questions concerned with the intervention plan (5.3). • How do we implement such a plan? Which tools are available, and how do we structure our interventions? Questions to do with interventions are examined in section 5.4.
Figure 5.1 The Four Phases
The contents of this chapter offer a deeper insight into the phases (4.5) and the steering cycle (4.7). You can observe the four phases in a change process of, say, two years. But you can also go through miniature versions of these phases when you reflect for half an hour on a certain situation: When you assess progress, you are in effect diagnosing, and when you reconsider outcomes and re-plan you are in a way crafting a change strategy and intervention plan.
Diagnosis has two aspects: the process by which you try to find out what is going on, and the information that is gathered as a result. Both are discussed in the following pages.
5.1.1 Diagnostic Process
Research approach or action approach?
Block (1981) argues that the diagnosing can basically be done in two contrasting fashions; namely, by using either a research approach or an action approach. The research approach looks more "scientific." Its aim is to bring together as many relevant factors as possible, as it is vital to form a complete picture. Researchers attempt to be objective, and for this reason prefer quantitative over qualitative analysis. They strive to maintain a neutral stance. Researchers regard the action approach as being rather imprecise, because in that approach completeness is not deemed as important. The action approach focuses on factors that the organization can influence and may exclude others. In this approach, people are part of the diagnostic process and importance is attached to subjective information such as feelings and intuition. Change agents do not remain passive on the sidelines, but seek to associate themselves with those involved and, where necessary, take a stand. Block feels that the research approach is inappropriate for consultants because their most important goal should be change, not knowledge. We suspect that he would reach the same conclusion with regard to change agents in general, be they consultants or not. We are not convinced that a "scientific approach" is always wrong. For example, if an organization finds itself...
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