In common with great murder mysteries, project managing change can be complex; behaviour is driven by hidden motives and people desiring an outcome that will be beneficial to them potentially at the expense of others. So how do you get to the truth?

If you were Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple you’d conduct a series of interviews and then pull everyone into a room to hear the plotline and denounce the killer.  Your indispensable tool is your trusty magnifying glass; every good detective has one.

As a change manager you have to become an organisational sleuth: looking at challenges, people and the political landscape from multiple points of view; trying to understand the underlying causes of the current situation; developing your own hypotheses based on the available facts.

The magnifying glass I recommend you use as a change manager is special – it has 8 lenses, each highlighting or focusing your attention on a particular aspect or facet of the problem you are investigating:

Strategy & Future State
What do we want to achieve and what will it look like when we get there?  What are the outcomes and priorities for the company or the change to be successful?

Planning & Management
What needs to be done and benefits do we expect? What are the activities and tasks and who should be doing them?  Where in the organization will we make savings or realize value?

Leadership & Capability
Who will we need to make change happen and what is required of them? What are the key roles, individuals, skills and abilities needed to deliver change through people?

Stakeholders & Communication
Which stakeholders to be involved or has the influence or position to affect the outcome of the project or change? How can we increase effectiveness, clarify expectations and reduce resistance to the change?

Resilience & Capacity
How ready, willing and able is the organisation to absorb the changes?  Is there the required commitment, productivity and space available for the organisation to be receptive to the change?

Organisation Alignment
How will we need to be organised to make the changes work?  What structure, processes, people, governance, systems and culture are needed to achieve and sustain the strategy?

Culture & Behaviours
What values and attitudes do we want in our company and demonstrated by employees?  What behaviours do we want them to adopt?

Employee Motivation & Skills
What motivators, processes and competencies need to be in place for employees to do their jobs effectively and achieve the future state?

These 8 views or lenses make up the Change Prism. The idea is that when you combine all the ways of looking at a problem through your own process of internal reflection, you will get a truly holistic understanding of the issue. By applying your own knowledge and experience (like Poirot’s ‘little grey cells’) you can develop hypotheses about the issues the project or organization needs to address and an insight into what needs to be done or how to do it.

As well as being instrumental in helping you understand the drivers and impact of an organisational change, the Change Prism highlights the spectrum of people-related issues and activities that you will need to build into a programme or project to be managed – effectively providing you with a checklist for making change happen.

The Change Prism is just one of the tools Cindy and I developed to take the mystery out of change management and because in consulting and in projects, every new job and every new client means starting from scratch. ‘Project Managing Change’ is the book we (and our project manager colleagues) wish we’d had to help us hit the ground running.

Having led numerous projects ourselves, we know how busy it can get. That’s why we have created a set of downloadable change management templates for you to use so you can focus on the value-added stuff.

Finally, to be a good organisational sleuth you need to:

  • Show personal courage and commitment
  • Have an analytical mind and a systems-thinking approach
  • Enjoy the chase and be able to embrace ambiguity
  • Be able to outwit evil masterminds intent on world domination (optional)

About Guest Contributor

Ira Blake is the co-author of “Project Managing Change: Practical Tools and Techniques to Make Change Happen” [Ira Blake & Cindy Bush, pub. FT Prentice Hall 2009]. The term Change Prism is a registered copyright of the authors.Ira’s credentials include delivering business transformation programmes from product definition through to building internal change management capability in private and public sector organisations .  She has deep expertise in many aspects of change, including managing stakeholder relationships, organisation design, OE, change leadership, culture change, business/process change and employee engagement.