Blog Posts Process Analysis

Change History Diagnosis

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown


Business Model

Structured method for assessing the degree to which an organisation is ready to change. The process draws on the perceptions of employees regarding how effectively the organisation has managed change in the past, and generates practical insights into how the organisation should manage change in the future. To succeed, they also must have an intimate understanding of the human side of change management by aligning the company’s culture, values, people, and behaviors to encourage the desired results. 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/project 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 organisation.  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 organisation.  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 organisation over the previous two to five years. Once this context is clearly established, there are typical steps for using a Change History Diagnosis.
  1. Ensure that the organisation is comfortable about the method 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 method , 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 may be resistant to the diagnostic method , 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 sensitises them to the often deep-seated concerns that employees have about such a major change as BPI.
  • Some organisations 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 organisation 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.

A Framework for Understanding an Organization’s Success

Compelling case – “Why Should we Change?”

  • Establishing the reasons for change
  • Identifying the cost/benefit
  • Articulating the articulating the argument persuasively
  • Communicating it to all

Vision – “What will we change to?”

  • Creating the overall vision of the enterprise
  • Identifying the immediate objectives and goals
  • Relating the immediate project to the overall vision
  • Maintaining clarity

Values – “Which behaviours do we value?”

  • Articulating the preferred values and implementing them
  • Identifying the values that the organisation’s reward and other systems support
  • Establishing norms
  • Ensuring consistency

Strategy – “How do we realise our vision?”

  • Identifying the enterprise-wide strategy
  • Ensuring that the chosen strategy is correct, appropriate and sustainable
  • Project goals and how they relate to that strategy
  • Implementation plans
  • Benchmarking

Information – “How well are we doing?”

  • Adequacy of information systems
  • Knowledge management
  • Process efficiencies
  • Performance benchmark
  • Key performance indicators

Communication – “Who needs to know what?”

  • Content
  • Constituencies
  • Tools and techniques
  • Managing the information flow
  • Testing for effectiveness

Leadership – “Who is keeping us on track?”

  • Establishing ‘followership’
  • Effective leadership styles
  • Modelling new behaviours
  • Taking risks, demonstrating courage

Resources – “What do we need to get there, and how do we get it?”

  • Resource management
  • Identification of necessary and/or missing resources
  • Retention of the right quality/quantity
  • Contingency planning

Capability – “Do we have the right mix of abilities?”

  • Change management skills
  • Acquiring and instilling the necessary skills
  • Overcoming organisational barriers
  • Developing maximum potential

Motivation – “How can we get all our people to work with us?”

  • Leadership and people management
  • Recognition and reward
  • Tools, techniques and programmes
  • Performance management

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