Implementing Change within Teams and Organizations

change initiativesChange can happen within the borders of a team, as well as at the scale of an organization. (It can of course also happen at the individual level, but that’s a separate topic.)

In both the team and organizational cases, it helps to not only have an idea of where you are starting from, but where you think you are headed. A rough sketch subject to change, refinement, or even abandonment. Using a “canvas” helps communicate things to those who will be directly and indirect affected.

Communication is usually under-executed by a factor of ten. Share on X

Note: In previous posts, I’ve touch on related topics:

Create Alignment

A canvas is a tool for conversation. A helpful vehicle to get from fuzzy ideas to tactical execution. It is also a vital means of communication, transparency and a good way of avoiding “a million dead-end streets” that can come from a lack of alignment.

Team Level Changes

At the team level, a change canvas might take this form:

If you’d like to use the team canvas, here’s a link to a Google Doc I’ve created.

Source: I’ve lost track of where I found the canvas…

Details on Filling out the Canvas

Vision Summary

Where are we now? We do we think we are headed? What are some potential wins? Who’s gonna be impacted?

Force Field Analysis

Working thru the “Force Field” analysis of the proposed change really helps bring a balanced approach, and consideration for both sides of the equation. It also helps reminds that we can both add as well as subtract things in our attempts to solve a problem or arrive at our intended future state.

Here’s an example of “Force Field Analysis”


Experiment Plan Kanban

An initial backlog of to-do’s. And as things move along the team would keep this updated, minding the work in progress.

Organizational Level Change Initiatives

For large scale initiatives that affect an entire organization, a slightly different canvas is useful for communications. This one is from Jason Little.


As Jason wrote:

“This canvas should answer these questions for everyone in the organization:

  • What change are we making?
  • Why are we making this change?
  • Who is affected by the change and what will they need to change?
  • How will we measure success?
  • How will we measure progress?
  • What’s our high-level plan?”

Here’s a link to a Google Doc version, if you want it.

Communicate Communicate Communicate

It’s a sad fact: Communication is usually under-executed by a factor of ten. And inadequate communication is one of the easiest way to undermine trust as well as to set up for resistance and/or failure. When in doubt over-communicate. (It’s a lot easier than apologizing later…)

  • Be clear on roles and responsibilities for items in the to-do list
  • Do everything in a transparent way, with great visibility into progress
  • At the review stage, share results and metrics, be vulnerable, embrace and learn from failure
  • As changes are introduced, respond to concerns and objections promptly

Enjoy the Journey

Change can be tough, no matter how open a team or an organization may be. Maintaining a balance between pushing hard and easing up on the reins, without falling into either of the two extremes will help you through.

  • Celebrate progress – doing so really makes a difference.
  • Rejoice in early (and hopefully cheap) failures
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently - Henry Ford Share on X


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