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Supporting organisations to bridge the gap between strategy and action at moments of change, making sense and shaping conversations with Big Pictures.

Blog

Filtering by Category: Sense-making

The Change 'Curve'

Delta7 Change

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The Change Curve is a well-known model that tracks the typical behavioural stages we can pass through when reacting to change. From initial shock, through gradual steps of understanding until the change can be fully comprehended and adapted to. It’s often visualised as a graph that charts the emotional ups and downs of change as a curving line - but it may be hard to appreciate this bigger picture viewpoint when you’re deep within it.

At Delta7 our process of evolving a visual narrative through conversations and creativity is well suited to the challenges of the Change Curve, particularly because of the way that people react to change differently. A group can be at a variety of stages along the curve, and this throws up contrasting perspectives of view that make for richer, more enlightening conversations. People in the early stages of the curve who are struggling most to make sense of change can find helpful meaning from the observations of those who may be further along. Insights that arise from these conversations have the potential to carry everyone forward to a better position, both for digesting the implications of the change and for considering what they can do to respond to it effectively.

How do you measure culture change?

julian burton

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Evaluation can be one of the most challenging aspects of doing OD, often because it can be invisible to clients who are not present when we do our work.

The purpose of evaluation can be anything from calculating ROI to learning and development.

Either way, it involves rigorous scoping with clients right at the start of an intervention. We have found that asking these questions at the beginning of an OD intervention helps us both get a better grip on why we are doing it.

• What do I need to know/understand? (Why Am I evaluating?)

• What will I do with what I learn? (What is my intent?)

• How will I make changes based on what I learn? (What will I do?)

What’s your story about evaluating OD?

Going to the moon and back

Delta7 Change

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The well-worn tale of the Apollo Program, the visiting president, and the helpful janitor serves as a memorable illustration of team engagement and an apocryphal narrative about storytelling. After all these years it still stands out as a great example of the motivating effect of an inspiring vision.

 “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills.” John F Kennedy, 1962

Stories invite us to go on a journey and are so effective at delivering a message because they give the audience a way of engaging with the details and caring about the outcome. We are drawn in by being able to relate to the characters, their motivations and needs. We also recognise the challenge in the current state and become curious about how it can be resolved. The challenge may demand a journey or quest, which we hope will have a fitting outcome.

Every organisation has it’s own narrative and while not all projects and stories can be as uplifting or as clear-cut as a mission to the moon, seeing our place in a bigger picture can invest work with more significance and be emotionally compelling. Having the opportunity to reflect upon a narrative and make sense of our role within it allows us to consider new possibilities, inspire us to take on new responsibilities and conduct our daily work mindful of a long-term strategic vision.

Most of all it helps us take ownership of the challenge and consider what we can do differently to help overcome it. The scale and status of one’s role does not necessarily define the value of each contribution.

Even though we may have little influence in the grander scheme of things, by taking personal responsibility to manage the quality of our work we can maximise the positive effect we have. And if everyone has this same personal investment in the outcome of the story there’s no limit to what can be achieved.

How do we respond to change?

julian burton

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When change is poorly communicated it can often create discomfort, and people react to that discomfort in different ways. In that state important strategic messages are unlikely to land because people’s minds are focused on their own fears and concerns.

Panic, denial and avoidance are common reactions which are often interpreted as resistance to change. It’s easy to judge these reactions as resistance, though they are natural, largely unconscious responses to what can feel threatening, overwhelming or scary. I know that when I’ve been worried or concerned about my future, I’m not usually in the best state of mind to listen to other people’s helpful advice. Emotional responses to change often go unvoiced if there’s not enough safety or trust to share them with someone.

In this situation it’s really important to find an opportunity for catharsis - which is the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

We believe that by acknowledging the emotional impact of change and allowing space for it’s expression, conversations can become more productive. Then there is more chance of creating a shared story that everyone cares about and feels part of - because they feel cared about too.

What makes a story compelling?

Delta7 Change

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John le Carré really nails what is at the heart of any great story; drama. By establishing conflict in a situation, the need to restore order and balance becomes the motivation for action. The unfolding story is the journey taken to make sense of the conflict, define the challenges, and undertake the transformation required to meet them.

The drama of organisational change can be scary, so people need to be clear what's at stake for them and their organisation. When change is complex and hard to grasp, a story can help people understand the connection between cause and affect, to make sense of what is going on around them, and think about what might happen to them. It can provide a lens through which they create shared meaning around what needs to change, and help clarify what actions they need to take ownership of.

When a story speaks to people's concerns and aspirations it can be compelling, affecting the way they think, feel, act and behave. It gives them the context they need to make sense of - and take responsibility for - their part in achieving it's outcomes.

We believe that a compelling story is one of the most important elements of a change programme – it helps employees make sense of what’s at stake and take ownership of the organisation’s journey by seeing themselves within it.

 

 

Just published - a chapter on Visual Dialogue in the Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science

paul stroud

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We are very pleased to announce the publication of The Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science, featuring a chapter by our colleagues Julian Burton and Sam Mockett:

'The art of complexity: using visual artefacts and dialogue to bridge the gap between strategic plans and local actions in organisations'.

Abstract

'This chapter looks at the use of visual representations of organisational narrative in combination with facilitated dialogue (’Visual Dialogue’) as a Complexity-inspired tool for culture change and organisational development. The Visual Dialogue change process was created by change consultancy Delta7 fourteen years ago and in that time has been successfully implemented in over 100 large organisations. The process creates spaces for employees and leaders to come together to make sense of what is happening, what needs to change, and what actions are required. It helps people connect strategy to action, learn about each other’s roles and take ownership of the parts each has to play in successful implementation. At the operational level, the process helps shift the way people talk about change and, as a result, enables the change process to become more meaningful, engaging and effective. The process creates the conditions from which learning, innovation and better relationships can emerge.'

  Command and control  vs . self-organisation

We will describe some of the cultural challenges of turning strategy into action that many organisations are currently facing, particularly in the context of the relationship and status gap between leaders and employees, and how difficult it can be to develop a realistic strategy without involving the people responsible for delivering it. We will also show how we have used the Visual Dialogue process as an Organisational Development intervention to address some of the key aspects of these challenges. As the process has evolved over the years we have learned that its principal impact lies in improving the quality of conversations about change between leaders and front line employees, working to create enabling environments that foster mutual sense-making, rich connection and creativity. Finally, we will describe the component parts of Visual Dialogue and how each contributes to creating such enabling environments and supporting emergent change.'

Further details can be found at the publisher's site here.

 

A Rich Picture doesn't always give you the Big Picture

Chris Hayes

In our experience there is a common misconception that rich pictures are effective in shifting cultures or behaviours when created to transmit information.

Visualising a strategy and sticking it on a wall or a mouse mat does not lead to people changing the way they work.

We believe that the best way to engage with employees is for leadership to co-create a Big Picture with them, allow them to make sense of what the change means for them in dialogue and listen to what they have to say.

Change doesn’t come from telling people with a better piece of paper.