WRAP up your change

DecisiveBookHave you discovered the Heath Brothers? I hadn’t until I read an article in the McKinsey Quarterly Journal for April this year called ‘Making Great Decisions‘. The brothers have written 3 books and their latest is on decision making. This is a particular interest of mine as it relates to inherent team performance. The Heath brothers have a reputation for bringing together the research and best practice on a topic and distilling it into practical advice and tools for real life usage. Their latest book is just out. This blog is applying one of their decision making tools to change.

Making Decisions — Doing Change

In this book the brothers have created a simple tool for better decision making. Reading it through it is also an excellent tool for better change. I will let you read the article (or the book) about decision making. Here is my spin on how it works for change. The tool has four principles:

  • Widen your options
  • Reality test your assumptions
  • Attain some distance
  • Prepare to be wrong

Using the format (unashamedly stealing a good piece of design) from the McKinsey article here is how these principles could apply to change.

HeathW For example:
Consider at least two robust alternative approaches for every change. Your first idea may not be the best.
Important because:
Adding just one alternative makes very good strategic decision making more likely??six times more likely, according to one research study.
HeathR For example:
Enforce vigorous debate on both sides of a change (colleagues and those affected by the change) and resolve debates with data by running small experiments to test assumptions.Capture assumptions in your risk register.
Important because:
We are two times more likely to consider information that tends to confirm our assumptions than information that tends to negate them.
HeathA For example:
Consider someone who is outside the change and ask yourself ‘what would they do?’. Or take your team and propose a ‘mock’ post-mortem on the change because it failed: then try to construct what could have happened.
Important because:
The status quo is powerful. Research shows that over time, even arbitrary choices are regarded as valuable and right.
HeathP For example:
Set yourselves some early targets for the change so that progress can be checked against plans. Keep your ears open for stories about the change: its success and failure. Have some alternative ideas in your risk register.
Important because:
Our predictions are often incorrect, even when made with high confidence.

You may have noticed that this tool is very much about managing bias in human thinking. That looks like a good topic for another blog! The Heath brothers have a book on doing change, which is now on my reading list so this is probably not the last time I will mention them.

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