Theory-U and Remote Organizational Change Management (Part 2)

In the part two of two series in discussing how Theory-U can be used late into a program transformation especially with those projects that have remote regions we are going to explain the movements, ‘down and up’ the “U-curve” in a practical and pragmatic perspective.  If you haven’t yet done so, please read Part One of the Theory-U and Remote Organizational Change Management.

When leveraging Theory-U, one must remember that at a corporate level, people want to experience practical levels of change which are tangible and measurable.  When focusing on NGO groups, Social and Psychological changes, the Theory-U approach works great for motivation, coaching and living a new way.

The following movements along the Theory-U curve are dimensions that have worked for me but should always be tailored to your needs and your client. These movements work ideally when you need to engage with a remote region that does not have OCM presence on the ground and you happen to be late into the transformation. Repeating these workshops with the same stakeholders dilutes the value hence try to do it once per remote region. The intention of the following movements are to aggressively coach and push for adoption.

Recommendation is to break up the Theory-U session into three consecutive day workshops.
Day 1:

  • Understanding historical patterns: Understand what has worked in the past and why they would hold onto their current way of working. Determine what has not worked and why they would not hold onto their current way of working. Understand who their “go to” people are in their typical jobs which aren’t part of the overall process. Ask them what it would take for them to be on board and be part of the new change.
  • Alignment and Value of the Change: Work on branding sessions, leadership alignment exercises and build a consensus on how the project will deliver value to the business. Level set leadership expectations during the change process.

Day 2:

  • Visualize existing processes: Ask the team members to outline their processes. Typically processes should be documented this late in the transformation so use that as a baseline. Use sticky notes to identify their current processes and try to keep it at Level 1.
  • Demo the new tool/process: Demo the tool and point out where the new tool supports the existing processes by taking the sticky notes from the previous session. Provide functional and business level explanations of the tool. Discuss the overall business benefits and use leadership from Day 1 to push the change.

Day 3:

  • Day in the Life of: Create mock roles and allow individuals to carry out processes either through the use of a new tool or in mock systems. This is also known as process induction and can be much longer than one day.
  • Self Expectations Alignment: Gather everyone together and understand their obligations to adopt the change. Ask them why they will be committed to the change and how they can help their peers through the change.

The above movements in Theory-U will coach individuals to be much more receptive to change. This is NOT the only activity you do during change management but it can help accelerate adoption dramatically especially if you were brought onto the project towards the end. I have seen this work in remote regions all over the world. Hopefully it works for you too.


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