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How about starting with the premise that the most important person to anyone working in any type of organisation is each individual’s immediate boss or perhaps boss and one higher level colleague.

Using this as a starting point for effective organisational change management, a practical set of potential risk and issue challenges emerge.

Why should this “immediate boss + 1” be important for those working in organisational change? Here’re some considerations.

In most organisations, the first and second levels of people responsible positions are also those positions closest to the product and/or service delivered by the organisation.

This normally means these positions are most likely to be under delivery pressure, often with a significant C-Suite expectation of “more with less” in any permutation you’d like to create.

This environment has its own inherent challenges – then along comes organisational change.

Thinking about the potential conflict for these first and second positions and their reporting staff brings a very interesting Front-end Loading change consideration.

For most people involved in production/service delivery, they have significant focus on production, measurement and quality. They also prefer stable production/service delivery using stable methods and processes…then along comes organisational change.

How do you think news about change is received by production/service staff?

Basically, what’s been created is an organisational oxymoron: a contradiction in terms at least for those intimately concerned with the implementation of the planned change(s): continue with production/service stability while implementing change.

As mentioned above, everyone concerned with production/service will be very clear on the measures of overall and personal contribution to production, service and quality.

This creates the Big Change Question: why should they “bother” with change?

One answer to the big question is provided by a very practical tool created by Beckhard & Harris (1987). I’d ask you to take a minute and look at the date, 1987! How many have and use the Change Equation in their Change Management Toolkit?

I use the Change Equation in every change activity engagement, finding it a practical and value adding change tool.

The Equation helps to answer the question “why bother” at department, team and individual levels. It’s particularly effective as part of Front-end Loading and as an effectiveness check during the change lifecycle.

So how does the Change Equation potentially facilitate effective change?

For me, it helps think through effective communication and supporting actions at multiple levels. Rather than using the quicker though potentially less effective, “one size fits all” communication slide deck, the customised/personalised approach has potentially more impact and personal connection i.e. what’s in it for me?

Having teased about the Change Equation, here’re the constituent parts:

C = (ABD) > X

C = Change,

A = Dissatisfaction with the current situation,

B = Attraction to the change or future state,

D = What needs to be done to implement the change (step by step plan) what are the risks and importantly for delivery staff, likely disruption(s) to the current relatively stable methods and processes

X = perceived cost of change

Stripping the Equation to its basics: is the effort of change worth it to those teams, groups and individuals affected by the change?

The “worth it” for the first and second level population may require some adjustment to the previously accepted norm.  Examples are support for department meetings that discuss change impact and not operational delivery, creation of time to lead & manage change impact, realignment of priorities rather than everything is both urgent & important and performance objectives that place high importance on supporting and delivering change responsibilities.

Organisations that are serious about implementing organisational change should spend a lot more time on how to make the change “worth it” for first and second line positions that are responsible for operational staff during Front-end Loading and on-going fine-tuning.

Key area to look at: making time and support available for operational management to fully engage with organizational change.

Contributed by;

Bob Black, Principal, People Skills Organisational Development Consultancy.


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