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With the People End in Mind

Posted February 2020

“With the end in mind;” when most people say this regarding change, they typically are referring to the end state/optimum goal the change they are trying to achieve. However I have a different meaning when I use that phrase and it all centres around the person – end user – Sam in Norwich or Jane in Tay, if you will. It is the person that the change will affect but they are as far removed from the creating, developing, planning of the change, which lends the question, “How will they experience the change – what will they see, hear and potentially feel?”

The reason why I take this perspective is simple – Sam or Jane’s perception and experience of the change will determine whether the change is a success or not – adopted or not. Afterall, it is Sam/Jane who need to “do” the actual change of mindset and behaviours. So, if we don’t understand how they will experience the approach, as well as, the actual change, then how can we possibly expect it to go well. We need to get their buy in, acceptance and willingness to change, in order for it to happen, much less be sustainable. If we don’t take this perspective, then the best we could ever expect is for it to happen but only for 5 minutes as people will quickly revert back to what they have always done because that is more natural, easier and simpler.

So what does it mean to approach change with the end in mind from a people’s perspective? It involves getting to know Sam and Jane to a degree – need to know what they do and how they do it, so a gap analysis between the current and future state can be assessed. Typically this is done from an organisational perspective, but I would argue rarely is this done from a individual/team perspective.

Looking at change, though, from this perspective opens up a completely different lens. It helps plan and deliver change with an understanding of what is means from an individual who is not part of the planning of the change. Many times when we are part of the change project team or a key stakeholder, we forget that there are other people who do not have the same level of information about the change as us. We forget, unintentionally, that others have not been living and breathing this change through a planning and development process day in/day out for months. So, delivering change with Sam and Jane in mind, helps us make sure we keep that perspective at the forefront of our planning.

This then enables us to create and deliver the right messages, in the right way at the right time. It also gives us the opportunity to design activities and events with the ability to contemplate how Sam and Jane would interact and experience the activity/event. Thus allowing Sam and Jane the potential to experience the change the way we would want them to experience it optimally. This makes adoption easier and quicker.

So, when you are developing your change plans, think with the ‘end in mind’ from a people perspective.

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