One aspect of change management involves the use of brainstorming .

In Kevin and Shawn Coyne’s book : BRAINSTEERING: A Better Approach to Breakthrough Ideas  some new ideas are provided for more effective brainstorming  based on the proposition that many attempts at brainstorming are doomed . The flow of ideas may be fast and furious with traditional brainstorming but they can be ultimately shallow

The authors propose seven main principles that  inform a ” brainsteering” approach . A more structured but not constraining approach.

  1. Know your organisations decision making criteria : this considers the  company will use to make decisions about any ideas generated. There is a need to understand existing strategic and tactical aims.For example ideas used may need to be practical, affordable and profitable within a year .

2, Ask the right questions : Academic research implies that  loosely structured sessions are inferior to approaches that use structure as the best way is to use questions as the platform for ideas generation. /for example the authors suggest that 15 -20 questions are appropriate for a workshop attended by about 20 people.Typical questions might be around trying to understand the customer experience , how to reduce complexity, what existing policies and procedures should be challenged.

  1. Choose the right people :  Pick the people who can answer the questions you are posing and have regard for their special knowledge.
  2. Divide and Conquer : Don’t hold on rambling discussion – break into sub groups of 3-5 people ( no fewer and no more based on the idea that the social norm is to  speak up in smaller rather than larger groups) and let them focus on one question for 30 minutes . So overall take the 15 -20 questions and split them between the subgroups ( about 5 questions each) .Furthermore where possible assign questions to groups that are best able to handle them.
  3. On your marks ,get set,go ! : Orient the full group by clarifying expectations . Prepare participants for the possibility that they might only generate 2-3 worthy ideas and that this is balanced by the fact that by the need of the day all of the sub groups will have generated a wealth of ideas.

6.Wrap it up : By the end of a typical day each subgroup tends to produce about 15 interesting ideas for further exploration so there could be 60 ideas generated by a 20 person team . Have each subgroup narrow its list of ideas to a top few and then share all of the top ideas with the whole group to motivate and inspire all participants. the group should not pick winners or a winner. Close the day on a high note and describe exactly what steps will be taken to choose winning ideas and how they will learn about final decisions.

  1. Follow up quickly : Decisions and other follow up activities should be rapid, well managed and thorough. Concrete action generated from brainstorm sessions can decline quickly as time passes and the momentum is lost. This part of the process must be clearly in place and agreed before any brainsteering session. There should be excellent communication to all participants covering all of the ideas and the rationale for selection and rejection at this stage.

The overall thinking behind this approach is that whilst traditional brainstorming is fast and furious it can be ultimately shallow. By using a more focused,question based approach their is an opportunity to capture better ideas from participants

The Six Change Approaches of Kotter and Schlesinger considers ways to minimise resistance to change in organisations

According to Kotter and Schlesinger there are four major reasons why people resist change:

  1. Parochial self-interest  where people are concerned with the impact change for themselves and how it may affect  their own interests
  2. Misunderstanding  including communication problems and  inadequate information
  3. Low tolerance to change  where some  people are concerned about security and stability in their work
  4.  Different assessments of the situation  where some people may disagree on the reasons for change and on the advantages and disadvantages of the change process

Kotter and Schlesinger set out six change approaches to deal with resistance to change:

  1. Education and Communication – Where there is a lack of information or inaccurate information and analysis. One of the best ways to overcome resistance to change is to educate people about the change effort beforehand. Quality communication and education helps people understand the logic of the change effort  and minimises  rumours
  2. Participation and Involvement – When people are involved in the change effort they are more likely to buy into change rather than resist it. This approach is likely to lower resistance and prevent passive acquiescence to change.
  3. Facilitation and Support –Leadership support helps people deal with fear and anxiety during a transition period. This approach is concerned with provision of special training, counselling, outlets for concerns
  4. Negotiation and Agreement – Where someone or some group may lose out in a change and where that individual or group has considerable power to resist. Managers can combat resistance by offering incentives to employees not to resist change. This can be done by allowing change resistors to veto elements of change that are threatening, or change resistors can be offered incentives to leave the company through early buyouts or retirements in order to avoid having to experience the change effort. This approach will be appropriate where those resisting change are in a position of power.
  5. Manipulation and Co-option – Where other tactics will not work or are too expensive. Kotter and Schlesinger suggest that an effective manipulation technique is to co-opt with resisters. Co-option may involve selecting leaders of the resisters to participate in the change effort. These leaders can be given a symbolic role in decision making without threatening the change effort.
  6. Explicit and Implicit Coercion – Where speed is essential and only to be used only as last resort. Managers can explicitly or implicitly force people into accepting change by making clear that resisting change can lead to negative outcomes such as job loss, firing, transferring or lack of promotion prospects.

See more on change management in Coaching Cosmos Newsletters

The Burke Litwin Model

Elements to include in a change campaign

Conversations enable change not edicts

Appreciative inquiry for change leaders

An approach to stakeholder engagement

Business Case Development Insights

The Kotter 8 step change process

The Link between change management and leadership

The Transformation Story

A new look at Brainstorming ( Brainsteering)  & Dealing with Resistance to Change

The ADKAR model of Change

The Futures Wheel

Four Principles for Staying in Control

Change Management Phases

Measuring the impact of change – KPIs

Resistance to Change by Rick Maurer

Time management and better use of resources

Insights on establishing credibility

Elements to include in a change campaign

Report Writing skills

Underpinning Successful Change

Road Test your Business Case



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