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22 Jun 2016

How do I plan a big change initiative?

by Melanie Franklin

It’s not always easy to know where to start when the change is so big it impacts all parts of your organisation and has more work streams than you have fingers! I am facing this at the moment so thought you might like to see the agenda for a planning day which brings together some of those creating the change and some who are impacted by it. The output from the day should be a high level plan created collaboratively so that everyone has the same understanding of what is expected to happen and when it will happen.


As its a major change the Vision has been discussed endlessly over the last few months. I don’t want to go over old ground, but I do need everyone to be reminded of the agreed Vision.


The first activity is to use the Vision to clearly define what work will change and what will remain the same I.e. What is in scope and what is excluded from the scope. It helps to write this as 2 flipcharts next to each other so that I can review whatever is in scope to make it even clearer by writing what will be out is scope if this item is included and vice versa. So for everything that is claimed to be out is scope we cross check it against what will be changed. It sounds simple but it’s a very powerful cross checking mechanism and usually promotes lots of discussion.


To get an idea of the impact of my change I assess each of the items in scope to see if they will require:

  • New processes, standards or policies
  • Changes to the organisation structure, creation or removal of roles or changes to existing job descriptions
  • Office moves or changes to furniture and seating arrangements
  • New software, changes to existing systems or the acquisition of new systems
  • Changes to the information and data used
  • Changes to the metrics or performance measures used in relation to the work
  • Different values or priorities associated with the work
  • New stakeholders

Of course nearly every item on this list is connected to something else, which makes the identification of the changes quicker to achieve. For example, if the change leads to changes in people’s jobs, this leads to changes in their performance metrics. These interdependencies also demonstrate how difficult it is to identify which changes should come first and which should come next because they all have effects on each other.


Large-scale change needs to be chunked up into shorter timeframe. Ask what will be different every 6 months as your change progresses. This is important for helping leaders understand what impacts they are commissioning and what improvements they can expect at which points in the financial year. This is the highest level of planning and provides an important skeleton for the rest of your planning.

Projects and new ways of working

From all of the work so far, identify the main strands of work to create the tangible changes e.g. a project to procure and set up a new system and the creation of the new processes and activities to enable it to be used.


Using the Capabilities to give you stages/tranches of your plan, identify which projects need to happen when.


Use your plan to identify who needs to be involved. At this point there is likely to be some recognition that too much is happening at once and there will be no-one left for ‘business as usual’ so the projects will be spaced out further to minimise the impact. This will lead to a recognition that either the scope is too wide or the change will take too long, so there will be lots of compromise needed!

Melanie Franklin
22nd June 2016