• Scott McInnes

84 | Great questions to ask before change


People don't like change and, as a result, we aren't all that good at it.

However, Google wanted to change all that. Googlegeist, the tech giant's employee survey, revealed that less than 50 percent of its employees were inspired by their leaders in the midst of the change, with the same low percentage not even understanding why the change was being made in the first place.

And given how often change occurs in tech, those were pretty worrying stats. So, Google being what it is, decided to change how it changed things. And so followed a thorough review of all the major change management thinking out there and as a result, Google created its own four-phased approach with four sets of accompanying questions.

Phase 1 - “WHY?”

The first phase deals with a simple but often unasked question - WHY? Is the change even necessary? It's amazing how often companies start down the change path without first asking themselves that question. One that could save a lot of heartache and budget!

  • Why is making a change necessary? Right now?

  • Does making a change align with your vision and aspirations?

  • What problem are you trying to solve?

  • What are the threats and opportunities?

  • What diverse input is needed and from whom about why a change is necessary before the decision is made.

Phase 2 - “WHAT?”

On to the next phase.WHAT? Here, it's about being really clear about exactly what it is you want to achieve.. This clarity acts as a second safety net, forcing you to again think about whether, once you've identified what the change is, whether it is strictly necessary. The uncertainty of change is what worries most people - 'what's it going to mean for me' is chief among the questions your people are likely asking. So getting really granular on the what allows our people to get a better handle on it and, in turn become more comfortable with it..

  • Is your strategy changing? - Are you suggesting a new priority or direction

  • What is the desired future state?

  • What are the risks/trade-offs of getting to future state?

  • What will success & failure look like?

  • What are the contrary opinions or alternatives?

  • Who owns the final decision? Is there alignment?

Phase 3 - “WHO?”

Google then moves on to Phase 3 and asks WHO? We know that one of the biggest reasons change fails is that people aren't on the bus. They don't feel bought into the change either rationally or emotionally (and BOTH are important). By asking WHO, the person or team driving the change is forced to think through the change from the perspective of those who'll have to actually live with it!

  • Who is being impacted by the change?

  • Who are the key stakeholders that need to buy-in?

  • Who should be involved in leading this change?

  • Who will resist the change and how can you help them through the transition?

Phase 4 - “HOW?”

Often those driving change just want to jump straight into this phase - the doing (becuase what's change if you arent actually changing things, right?)

During change, it tends to be the process that people worry about, not necessarily the change itself. So being clear on HOW you'll implement the change and, with a good understanding of WHO, knowing how to communicate it, gives you a much better chance of bringing people with you.

  • How will you execute the change?

  • How will you communicate the change?

  • How will you make the change stick?

  • How will you lead through the change?

  • How will you know if you are successful?

  • How will you measure the change?

Google saw amazing results

Having created and adopted this new approach to change, Google saw that it dramatically improved the adoption rate of change - to 90%.

Like most things in life, next time you;re planning a change in your organisation, just go straight to Google. Because when it comes to successfully implementing change, they've already got the answer!

You can find out more about this and about Googles other people strategies at https://rework.withgoogle.com/


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