Change is a constant within the realm of innovation. Navigating your team, organisation and stakeholders throughout the development or implementation of new products or services, a new process approach or a new organisational structure. It often creates resistance for multiple reasons. There's no quick fix in helping people throughout this change, but with the help of these 5 pivotal questions, you can embark on crafting a comprehensive change strategy.

5 Essential Questions for Initiating Change

1. The 'Why' of Change

Is the rationale behind change clearly articulated? Why now? What are the risks if no action is taken?

Generating awareness about the necessity for change can be approached through various pathways. Consider leveraging inspirational speakers, group training sessions, tangible demonstrations, immersive field trips ... In our experience, storytelling, scenario planning and experience trips are key tools that underscore the change's significance.

2. The 'What' of change

What do you want to achieve? What do you want to change? What innovation do you want to realize and what is needed to achieve this?

Make the change vision concrete, realistic and simple! Simplify and concretize your objectives. It’s easy to state that you want to create an innovation culture in your organisation. But what is it exactly about? Try to make it concrete. For instance, you want to increase idea-time, you want to reward risk-taking, encourage collaboration with external actors, …

3. The 'How' of change

How will the change process unfold? Can we decide in advance where we are heading? Or will adaptability be necessary?

Tackling substantial change requires breaking it down into manageable segments. Identify concrete actions within the change process (in different sprints). Next, you can evaluate these actions on the value in terms of the intended change they have and the effort that is needed to achieve them. Prioritize actions, emphasizing both low-hanging fruit for initial engagement and high-value initiatives for sustained transformation. Empower decentralized change leadership while guiding the overall process. Guide the change, but spread the ownership. Empower others to do the change!

4. The 'How Much" of change

Should we take a radical approach? Do we go for a revolution or an evolution?

Sometimes it’s advised to go for a radical approach: short and powerful. A short and intense period of change, followed by period of stability. External market situations could force you in a more disruptive change. For example when you need to deploy a new way of working or a new operating system. In other cases a continuous process of gradual change is more suited. You can take your time, but the downside could be that the change continues to drag on.

5. The 'Who' of change

Who are the key stakeholders involved in the change?

First step is to identify the most important stakeholders. Think of people that you will need to make the change happen (implementation partners), people that can give you the necessary input (info, insights, resources) to achieve a good change project (formulation partners) and all interested partners who have a stake in this change. Next it’s good to map out how these stakeholders stand on the change. Are they possible opponents, do they support the change? And what influence do they have? This mapping can help you create a coalition of the willing, but also get to know the “boxers” who will challenge you along the way. Lastly, resistance is inherent in change. You have to be well aware of what type of resistance it is! Then you can deal with it. Recognize distinct types of resistance to effectively address them:

  • Clarity: Ensure understanding of the change's purpose.
  • Capability: Address barriers like resource constraints or legacy systems.
  • Willingness: Address alignment with individual interests and the perceived significance of change.

There is no magical recipe to guarantee you a successful change, but at TomorrowLab we believe that by addressing these questions upfront, it will empower you in a role as change leader. And use those agile innovation principles to learn quickly what works in short sprints. It’s our way of working when taking up your innovation and strategy challenges.