Our Conceptual Framework
We help create organisations that are responsive and ready for change. Our work is informed by academic research drawn from a broad range of disciplines – psychology, management, philosophy, the physical sciences, education – even criminology.
Drawing upon our deep understanding of change readiness, we are able to pinpoint connections within existing literature and contribute new knowledge.
Our conceptual framework consists of five levels in a hierarchy, outlined below.
To get an idea of how we understand change readiness, let’s use the example of an event that begins every Boxing Day here in Australia – the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
What is required to win a Sydney to Hobart?
First, you need to understand the rules of the race. There is no point even starting if you don’t understand how the race works. We can think of this as the Foundational Level.
Second, you need a good yacht – a resilient, fast, and reliable one. Let’s think of this as being at the Individual Level.
Third, you need a good crew to sail the yacht. The crew needs the right knowledge, experience, and endurance to go the distance. They must also work together as a team. We can think of this as the Team Level.
Fourth, you need supporters – a larger group of stakeholders who back you financially, emotionally, culturally, and physically. We can think of this as the Organisational Level.
Fifth, you need an agile strategy that maps the way forward but is responsive to emergent circumstances and a creative strategist who plans well and makes the right decisions under pressure. We can call this the Agility Level.
Change readiness and agility
When it comes to how organisations can win, we also have five levels of complexity. Obviously, they are different from yacht racing, but we can draw some parallels.
The foundational level
Before we can even begin to talk about change readiness or agility, we must begin with the concept of change itself. How do humans change? What common patterns emerge? Good science about change has been around for decades. We have given this the name ‘The Success Pattern’. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
The individual level
Change readiness begins at the Individual Level – the level of people and how ready they are to accept and succeed at change. Individual Change Readiness consists of two important elements – Change Fitness and Engagement Readiness.
The team level
Moving up a level we come to Team Change Readiness – like the crew level in yachting. This level consists of two important elements – Change Management Readiness and Systems Readiness.
The organisational level
When we move up to the next level, we come to Organisational Change Readiness. This level includes everything from the two lower levels and adds one more – Cultural Agility.
The strategic level
The highest level is the strategic level. This level includes everything from the lower levels, meaning the organisation is responsive, adaptable, and ready to change as required. However, this level adds one more important thing – Strategic Effectiveness. This reflects the ability to create a winning game plan and the acuity to make the right decisions in the heat of the moment.
This may sound like a complex hierarchy, but the higher levels leverage gains made at lower levels. Therefore, it is best to start at the Individual and Team levels, ensuring they are properly aligned and able to contribute to Organisational Change Readiness and Agility.
How can we use these ideas?
We have considered the various levels of change readiness and agility, so let’s consider how we can use these ideas and how they can help us. There are two main ways they can help us.
First, they can provide us with information about the current state of reality across these different levels – individuals, teams, and the whole organisation. This is important information that’s needed for effective decision-making. Our current reality must shape the decisions we make.
Second, these ideas explain and provide a framework for how to build the change capacity of our people, teams, and organisations. The more change capacity we have, the more likely we are to succeed at everything we do.
Here are some examples of how these ideas can be used.
Sarah is the People and Culture lead in an international corporation. She and her team are about to embark on a digital transformation that is expected to take around 18 months to complete. She could assume her team is ready for this project, but she wants to make the best decisions from now on so she decides to undertake some change readiness assessments.
Sarah engages The Change Gym to conduct these assessments, which take 4 weeks to complete. Sarah receives feedback on certain vulnerabilities that pose a serious risk to the project. these include problems at the Individual Level (low change fitness and low engagement readiness) and some risks at the Team Level (around change management readiness and some systems readiness).
This information helps Sarah to make some great decisions. Instead of going into the project blind in terms of readiness, she is able to correct the risks before they pose any threat to the project. this helps make the project a success.
Paul is the CEO of an SME in the financial services industry. The culture in his company is quite risk-averse, which is likely true of many in his industry. But this reticence about changing things has made his company uncompetitive and most previous attempts at change have failed.
Paul wanted to do something positive to improve the agility of his team. He asked The Change Gym to help. We delivered some training (and coaching for some people) on how change works (The Foundational Level) and what people need to supply in order to be successful at change (the Individual Level – change fitness training).
We also helped develop engagement readiness in team members and taught Paul how to shape his messaging to build engagement readiness.
After us working with his people over a 3 month period, Paul witnessed a noticeable change in attitudes towards change. His team was more aware of what change demanded from them, and what they needed to supply to be successful, and they felt more empowered and less fearful of change. This delivered the agility improvements he hoped to see in his team and even more important, he knew how to keep those improvements coming.
The readiness pattern
Sarah and Paul are examples of people who have learned to use the change readiness/agility pattern. It goes like this: ‘When my organisation needs to change something, I want to think about our change readiness as a priority, so we improve our chances of success and minimise any problems we may encounter along the way.’ You too can learn to follow this same pattern.