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Bob’s guide to successful Change Management: Using Change history to shape the coming Change

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” : The Life of Reason (1905-1906)

George Santayana (16 December 1863 in Madrid, Spain26 September 1952 in Rome, Italy) was a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist.

Wikipedia, accessed 2 August, 2016

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose[1]—”the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”, usually translated as, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Les Guêpes, January 1849 .

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (24 November 1808 – 29 September 1890) was a critic and author.

Wikipedia, accessed 2 August, 2016

So, for more than a hundred years, Karr and Santayana have been advising us to apply Lessons Learned.

For almost 30 years the method currently known as PRINCE2 includes the capture and application of Lessons Learned from current projects to better deliver future projects. And now to my point: why do the majority of organisations not use change history to shape the coming change?

Could it be there’s politics in play or the change team is already ‘late’ in starting the next programme or maybe there’s some stuff that is better not to share? These and many more reasons can inhibit an organisation’s ability to learn from the past to better shape its future.

Specifically, there tends to be more of a chance for ‘Process Lessons Learned’ than ‘People Lessons Learned’. Could the reason for this be it’s easier to focus on process as this is ‘objective’ and a people focus could get ’emotional’…and we don’t want to bring emotional intelligence into the objective world of process, do we?

Top Tips: Using Change History to Shape the Coming Change

  • Have a realistic assessment of organisational culture, does this encourage and support sensible, professional creation & application of Lessons Learned?
  • Consider who the organisation makes its “heroes”. Those who hide the information that if known would make a positive difference to the coming change programmes or those who are courageous to be sensible transparent about what really went on?
  • Use some relevant tools to get to the facts and create positive actions for moving forward such as Appreciative Enquiry, Force Field Analysis and Learning Preferences.
  • Reality-check the organisation’s history regarding implementing successful change e.g business case deliverables; those affected by the change at a personal level; individual response to change; the reason for starting the change programme; organisational fitness for change i.e. what’s the level of “burn out” versus “energy” for the proposed change.
  • Assess where those affected by the coming change are on the Kubler-Ross Model and further work on this by Adams, Hayes and Hopson i.e. in denial or anger or acceptance or integration (I’ve incorporated steps from both models here)

Big Tips: 

  1. How robust is the overall change communication plan?
  2. How is this Meta Comms Plan going to be cascaded throughout the organisation ….consistently?
  3. What is the Double-Loop Feedback Process?

(This means capturing the feedback, thinking about it and then feeding back on what will be done. This includes thanks for your feedback but not doing anything at this time.)



Learn more about front-end learning and other crucial elements that constitute a successful Change programme with one of our accredited Change Management training providers.


Wish to read more? You can find the other entries in Bob’s guide to successful Change Management below:

Plans & reality are often different – a case for reality-based planning 

People first & process second 

Front-end Loading – What is it & why bother? 




Posted in Change Management, Qualifications.

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