Incremental Change Or Step Change – 8 Questions to Define Change Management & Clarify Your Approach

Incremental change or step change? It is very important to establish very early on whether or not what you are proposing can be regarded as incremental change and realistically can be accomplished within the constraints of “Business As Usual”, or whether it is a step change and needs to be handled as a specific initiative – and with the appropriate level of senior sponsorship and practical support.

The key questions are:

(1) Is the change you are proposing an incremental change that can and should be introduced as part of “Business As Usual” and that can be absorbed as part of the day-to-day running of your organisation?

(2) Or is the size, scope and complexity, priority, timescale, strategic importance of the proposed change such that it is a step change and needs to be regarded and handled as a specific initiative and requires some form of change management process?

This is extremely important as you define change management in the context of your organisation.

The reason this is so important is because people are stressed, tired and generally fed up with change initiatives. They need careful and detailed explanation of the proposed changes – why the proposed change is necessary, and the direct effects on them and the benefits to them. They need help and practical support.

As an illustration of this – I was involved with an NHS Trust recently, and contrary to the board’s initial perception of the reason for the apparent resistance and reluctance of senior clinical staff to embrace an initiative, the simple truth was that clinical staff did support the board’s intentions – but they didn’t have the time or energy to handle it.

What was needed was someone to own the initiative full-time and to “formally” recognise that this was a specific step change initiative that needed to be handled outside of hospital “business as usual”.

Here are 8 simple yet powerful questions that will help you clarify which approach to take and how to implement it successfully:

(1) How’s it going to be different when I’ve made the change?

(2) Why am I doing this – how’s it going to benefit me?

(3) How will I know it’s benefited me?

(4) Who is it going to affect and how will they react?

(5) What can I do to get them “on side”?

(6) What are the risks and issues that I’ll have to face?

(7) What steps do I take to make the changes and get the benefit?

(8) How am I going to manage all this so that it happens and I succeed?