Practically using the dimensions of change to health check your organisational change agenda
Conclusion: A simple Google search can provide access to thousands of change management frameworks, methodologies and theories. Many relate specifically to digital transformation; however, methods such as the Knoster model cover organisational change more broadly across culture, vision, resources and action planning.
The frequency of unsuccessful organisational change or transformation is on the rise1. While there are many organisational change theories, this paper demonstrates the connection between a particular theoretical framework (Knoster model) and how an organisation can translate these theories into successful organisational activities and practice.
This advisory paper will step through the six dimensions of change within the Knoster model for managing complex change and how you can use this to easily investigate and diagnose the overall health of your organisation’s change or transformation agenda, and to identify practical steps to stay on track.
Observations: The Knoster model2 outlines the six key dimensions of change required for an organisation to successfully realise the benefits of its transformative agenda. These six dimensions include:
- Vision – This provides reasons why the change is happening and its priority for the business. The model indicates that without a clear vision or purpose, staff will be confused about priorities and expectations of a change agenda.
- Skills – Will staff need new skills as a result of the change? Without appropriate skills uplift, staff will feel anxious about the change and the impact it will have on their ability to perform their roles in the future.
- Incentives – Why should staff be part of the change, what motivates them? Without a clear connection back to value for them, staff will feel resistant to change and will not be motivated to participate or support the change.
- Resources – What new systems, capabilities, processes or tools will staff need to make the change a success? Without appropriate resources (people and tools), staff will feel frustrated with having to change and not being able to.
- Action plans – How will the change be implemented, how will delivery occur? Without clear plans to implement agreed actions, false starts will occur and delivery will be hindered, causing delays of change.
- Collegiality – How will staff be supported and bonded through the change? Without co-development and collaboration during the change, staff will feel isolated by and as a result of the change.
Putting the Knoster model into action
Within the context of these six dimensions, you can utilise this model to investigate and diagnose the overall health of your organisational change journey, in the following two simple ways:
The Knoster model contains six dimensions of change, all required to achieve success.
You can easily translate these six elements into a simple pulse survey that can be distributed digitally across the organisation.
Use a five-point sliding rating scale (1 – negative, 3 – neutral and 5 – positive) and convert each element into each of the following questions:
Vision – “How do you feel about the change/ transformation?”
(1) I feel confused about priorities and expectations.
(5) I am clear about priorities and expectations.
Skills – “Which of the following best describes your thoughts about the change?”
(1) I feel anxious about having the right skills.
(5) I feel comfortable that I will have the skills I need.
Incentives – “How valuable or important is the change to you?”
(1) Not very – I don’t see what’s in it for me.
(5) I can clearly see how this will give me value.
Resources – “How appropriately resourced do you think we are for the change?”
(1) Not at all – I feel frustrated about the extra work.
(5) Well – I have tools and resources to make the change.
Action plans – “How well do you think we are delivering or actioning change?”
(1) Slowly – there are lots of false starts.
(5) Quickly – there are clear action plans that are followed.
Collegiality – “How connected and supported do you feel during this change?”
(1) I don’t – I feel isolated.
(5) I do – I feel very connected.
Once you have built and distributed this pulse survey, you can use the data you collect to diagnose the overall health of your change agenda or transformation journey.
Once data is collected, use the following steps to diagnose the dimensions of change that are working well within your organisation, and those that require attention.
If you observe low scores for question one – “how do you feel about the change/transformation” – this indicates that not all staff are connected to the purpose of the change agenda, the priorities and the expectations of them during the change and in the new, future state.
Should you notice high levels of staff indicating they “feel anxious about having the right skills” as their response to question 2, there is a potential gap between workforce capability now and the skills needed in the future. Staff may also feel like opportunities for skills development are not broadly communicated or implemented.
When assessing answers for question 3, high volumes of staff responding with “I don’t see what’s in it for me” demonstrate that staff do not see how they will benefit from the change or transformation. It shows low levels of incentive for the change among staff, and a poor connection to “what’s in it for me” (the WIFM).
Answers to question 4, tipped towards high levels of “I feel frustrated by the extra work”, indicate that staff do not feel like they have access to the appropriate tools or resources to participate in the change, or to make it a success. It can also demonstrate that staff may not think that enough resources overall have been committed to the change agenda.
If many staff indicate in answer to question 5 that the change is happening slowly and that there are many false starts, this indicates that there are not clear action plans in place, to guide the implementation of the change journey. Or, if there are action plans in place, they are not being followed or understood.
Finally, if many staff identify that they feel isolated, in response to question 6, then more attention is needed on the development and management of targeted staff engagement activities through the change journey. This should include not only communications but should allow staff to actively participate in the design and development of solutions, implemented as part of the change.
Next Steps: Once you have used the staff pulse survey data to investigate and diagnose the overall health of your change agenda or transformation agenda, you can develop targeted strategies to get back on, or stay on track. Depending on the complexity of your organisation’s transformation, it is also recommended you conduct these pulse surveys regularly (quarterly or six monthly).
- “Why transformations fail: A conversation with Seth Goldstrom”, McKinsey & Company
- “Measuring the Impact of Positive Behavior Support”, Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions
About The Advisor
David is an IBRS advisor specialising in corporate board advisory, business performance improvement, digital and customer experience strategy and operationalisation, program and project governance and agile capability development. David has expertise and a strong track record of successfully bridging the gap between digital, business and technology strategy and operations. He brings 20 years’ experience in leading transformative digital, ICT and business improvement programs across the financial services, government and not-for-profit sectors. As a trusted change agent and advisor, David has partnered with executives, corporate and program boards to deliver high impact, well informed business and customers outcomes across service delivery, business systems, digital and ICT operations. As a transformative senior executive, David has led major reform programs at a whole of government level, repositioning Queensland as a national digital leader. He was responsible for the revitalisation of the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the digital transformation in the Department of Justice. Most recently, David has spearheaded digital and business innovation within the superannuation industry as the General Manager, Digital Transformation and Analytics.