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The Seven Questions of Change Management

There are many questions to consider at the beginning of a Change program. Here are the seven basic questions of Change Management that have always helped me get my head sorted, before the team starts to plan or begin stakeholder engagement.

Don’t get me wrong. A good model is important for a successful Change program. But more important are the questions that need be asked, if not to debate the answers so there’s a clear picture from the start of what needs to happen, by who and by when.

Even if you’ve chosen the Model, the questions are still relevant to ask in your first planning meeting. I remember several times when I was brought into the situation without introduction or information. I used these questions as my direction to get me centred on what our program may need to do. I think they’d make an ideal agenda for a planning meeting if that’s relevant as well.

Yes, the seven questions are more categories of questions than individual questions. That means you are free to tailor/add/flex/edit to suit. Also, feel free to add your own questions below if you have any examples.

The Seven Questions of Change Management

1. What’s the change?

This may be blazingly obvious, but it’s very common for a Change program to start without preciseness.

What are you precisely, exactly asking people to do and by when?

Doran’s SMART principles work well here.

  • What’s the change specifically
  • Can we measure that specific change, and how?
  • Is true change really achievable?
  • Is the change relevant, and why?  Which relevant spokesperson says so?
  • What’s our time frame?  How long do we have optimistically and realistically?
2. What’s the problem?

Beyond where most employees can see from their day-to-day persepctive …

  • What problem has appeared?
    What’s happened in the world that’s demanding we take this change seriously now?
  • Whatever the so-called problem is: why does that mean we have to change? Or change now? (as opposed to later)
  • Is there any other way to solve this problem?
3. What’s the outcome?

At the end of the campaign …

  • What explicit outcome does the key decision maker want to see, have in place, or is followed by everyone?
  • What do we need to provide them – training as an example – so they can physically and psychologically change?
  • Can we measure the change effectively and credibly?
  • It must be asked now: what’s the budget for the overall program?

I also start to ask myself:

  • Is it foolish to think every single person is going to change?
  • How long is that going to take?
  • Who will change first?
  • Is there an order, such as one department ahead of another?
  • Who are my pragmatists? Who are my conservatives?
  • Who will be fearful?
  • Most of all, how will we handle the ones who refuse to change?

Finally, Perhaps because I’ve been around the block a few times, I also ask – if nothing else, myself – are we asking too much?

By the way … If the H.R. person isn’t in the room by now, I’d pause the discussion until they arrive …)

 4. What’s the timeline?

  • How long do we have?
  • How long do we have to prepare?
  • What needs to be put into place before we go public?
  • When do we make this public?
  • What benchmarks or milestones does the decision maker need to see so they can feel momentum?
5. Which model or methodology will we use?
  • Why? (History? Familiarity? Experience?)
  • Given the change: does it fit our organisation? (Not all Change models are inter-changeable.)
  • How many people know the model well?
  • Will we need additional training?
6. Who’s going to define the plan?
  • In other words, who’s in charge of the change?
  • Who will be the Change Leader? (Are they also the decision maker in the organisation, or will the Change Leader report to the organisation?)
  • Who will make up the Change Team?
  • Which senior leaders will be our primary spokespeople, if not mentors or coaches with staff?
  • Who else do we need to engage, either to get more information, or to ask their help to influence others?

7. How will we communicate?

Once launched, so many things will slow down the momentum, from other business priorities, information silos, to Simple boredom.

Part 1: Communications focused on employees and other relevant audiences. 

  • How will we keep engagement and awareness helpful but consistent?
  • How and through who will we need to keep important messages top-of-mind with minimal overkill or annoyance?
  • Who can people approach when they have questions or concerns?

Part 2: Internal communications amongst the change team.

  • Amongst the Change Team, who needs support?
  • What are you hearing, seeing about the campaign that is good, bad or unusual?
  • What new questions are rising from employees?
  • Anyone causing you unnecessary problems?
  • How’s our own commitment as a team going?

Feel free to add any other questions or comments below.

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The Seven Questions of Change Management