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BPI Technique – Change History Diagnosis (CHD)

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown

BPI Technique – Change History Diagnosis (CHD)


Structured method for assessing the degree to which an organization is ready to change. The process draws on the perceptions of employees regarding how effectively the organization has managed change in the past, and generates practical insights into how the organization should manage change in the future. These insights are then integrated into a strategy for the involvement of employees during the BPI initiative, which will ensure that there is broad employee commitment both to the content of the change and the way it will be implemented.

When to Use

The Change History Diagnosis can be used in two main ways.
  • To structure the development of a Readiness for Change Assessment
  • Because the diagnosis is based on objectively accepted factors that contribute to the effective buy-in of employees, it assists the joint client/consultant team to think in a very practical way about how to manage change in the future. At the early stage of the BPI initiative, conduct a relatively focused assessment, using a small, carefully selected sample of employees who represent the key areas within the organization. Then, conduct further assessments, on a just-in-time basis, at each of the other key stages in the process.
  • To facilitate project management
  • At every stage of the BPI project there are decisions made concerning how employees will be involved in the next stage of the initiative. Use the Change History Diagnosis to highlight the importance of employee involvement in achieving lasting change in all aspects of the organization. Integrated with project management, it will provide each layer of sponsors and change agents with a valuable opportunity to hear from employees about what matters to them, and to demonstrate that the organization is genuinely interested in their views.


The use of a Change History Diagnosis needs to be carefully framed in the context of the overall BPI initiative. Supplement the diagnostic with other data-collection processes such as interviews, and an analysis of reports and surveys relating to change initiatives conducted within the organization over the previous two to five years. (Refer to Internal Organizational Overview and Readiness for Change Assessment.) Once this context is clearly established, there are typical steps for using a Change History Diagnosis.

  1. Choose an appropriate Change History Diagnostic tool. Refer to the Tools section below for suggestions. Ensure that the client is comfortable about the choice of diagnostic. If they have used a diagnostic in the past that has worked well, it may be worthwhile using it again. It is best to check, however, if employees were comfortable with the process and whether the diagnostic has low credibility, because it was either poorly conducted in the past or there was no follow up.
  2. Introduce the project team and the project sponsors to the diagnostic, explaining its conceptual underpinning and language, and how it will assist the overall change initiative.
  3. Select a representative sample of employees for surveying purposes.
  4. Conduct the survey using focus groups.
  5. Develop a report on the findings.
  6. Feedback the results to relevant sponsors.

Ensure that employees who participated in the focus groups are provided with a clearly written summary of the results of the diagnostic, and the opportunity to respond to any of the subsequent findings.



  • Some people are resistant to the diagnostic, and may dismiss it as an impractical questionnaire. This is often demonstrated by lengthy debate about its validity. These people can sometimes be hard to convince, and time spent trying to do so can be wasted. Thus, encourage participants to complete the diagnostic first, and then facilitate discussion about the issues that emerged from completing it afterwards. In most cases, people become supportive of the diagnostic. This is because it allows them to talk about issues such as management support, adequate resources, training and communication, which they may feel management has not handled well in the past.

Tactics/Helpful Hints

  • Have the leadership team and the internal change agents complete the diagnosis first. In most cases, they identify many of the same issues as are later identified by employees. This often leads to useful discussion about their past disappointments with how change has been managed, and sensitizes them to the often deep-seated concerns that employees have about such a major change as BPI.
  • Some organizations become very attracted to the diagnostics and want to conduct large-scale surveys using them. These can be costly, slow to generate results and logistically complex. In addition, such surveys lack the interactive qualities of the approach outlined above. If the organization is committed about going ahead with such an approach, ensure that there are mechanisms in place to manage communications, to manage the project within tight time and budget parameters, and to keep key opinion leaders on side.
  • Make all responses confidential, if necessary, and establish a ground rule about confidentiality, whenever there is an expectation that people talk frankly about the findings of the diagnosis.


  • It is imperative that people are appropriately trained and accredited, before they use any of the vendor-based tools. Contact the local national office of the vendor for details.


  • A number of change history diagnostics are currently available from Consulting Companies and Software Suppliers.

  • Implementation Problems Assessment also are available from various Consulting Companies and Software Suppliers.
  • Develop a specific tool. This is done in conjunction with the organisation. This approach has the added advantage of ensuring buy-in to the outcome of the Change History Diagnosis, since the client has been intimately involved in the creation of the assessment method.

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