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Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Making a Change

In a continuous improvement organization change is inevitable. Oftentimes when we think about change or using change management techniques, it’s on something very large, like implementing a new EMR throughout an organization. But change isn’t always large, it’s also those smaller changes that happen more frequently; like adding a step to an existing process or trying to change one of your leadership behaviors.

As a leader, no matter the size of the change, we must be able to manage change within ourselves and model the way for others in the organization. Based on ADKAR, Prosci’s change management model, here are five questions to consider when making any change (large or small). They will help you manage it and sustain it.

Do I understand why the change is needed?

The first step in accepting a change is understanding why the change is even necessary. You need to have an awareness of the WHY to fully embrace the change. Let’s say that you are changing the way you go to gemba  by including the practice of asking humble inquiry questions. This is a potential shift in how you show up, from telling to asking questions, and it’s important for you to understand why this change matters. Are you doing it to empower staff, to learn more about their work, or is it vital to your organization’s continuous improvement transformation? Likewise, if you are asking your team to change something in their process, they need to understand why the change is needed to be open to making the change. The WHY helps us understand this is not change for the sake of change.

Am I committed to making this change?

Once people have a clear understanding of why the change needs to happen, they can make the decision of whether or not to be committed to it. The next step in creating long lasting change is to ensure that you are committed to the change by actually making the personal decision to step in and support it. This is not the same for everyone or for all changes. Some changes are easier to commit to than others. For instance, when you purchase a new car, you could experience some changes. The way you turn on the headlights, start the car, or turn the wipers on may be different. Even though small, you will need to make the personal decision to accept these changes. As you can imagine, the bigger and more personal changes tend to be more challenging to commit to.

Do I know what is expected of me during this change?

Once you are committed to making the change, the next step is to gain knowledge of what’s expected. Do people going through the change know what their role is, what will be different, and when it’s taking place? These are just a few questions to get you started. We can support the change when we know what it means for us specifically. This could include training to a new standard, having a list of humble inquiry questions to ask, or having the car salesperson show you how to operate the different features of your new car. If you are a leader in an organization on their continuous improvement journey, this step could include quite a bit and so I recommend that you pace yourself…Rome was not built in a day.

Do I have the ability to do what is required for this change?

To make change stick, those affected by the change need to have the knowledge, as well as the ability, to succeed in the post-change world. The ability aspect of change can be vastly different for each of us being impacted by it. To gain ability, we must practice, and some people gain the ability faster than others. As a leader, it’s important to understand where members of your team are in developing their ability so you can provide additional support when needed. If you are working on your own personal change, such as using humble inquiry questions when going to gemba, it’s important to reflect on how it’s going and of course, spend additional time on practice.

What is in place to help sustain this change?

Finally, it is important to ask yourself, “What’s in place to sustain the change?” What will prevent you, or your team members, from reverting to the old way? In the case of a new process, this could be process observation on a standard work document for a select period. In the case of personal change, such as leadership development, you could have a peer buddy, or your team members help hold you accountable and provide feedback on the changes you committed to making. Please also remember the value of recognition and the celebration of wins to keep any change in place.

You can use these five questions as steps or phases of any change. You must successfully journey through each of them to achieve a successful and lasting change. If the answer to any question is “no” or “not completely,” you will need to focus on that aspect of the change before you can move on to the next.

I hope you will join me in my upcoming workshop, Becoming the Leader You Want to Be, to work through a personal change of your own using these steps and more.

 

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