In this article, Rebecca Stevens will introduce you to a model for change management based on ideas, theories, concepts and tools from the field of positive psychology. Rebecca will talk through the reasons behind the development of this model; the principles which drove a desire for a new way of looking at change and read about Co-Creation’s strengths model for change management.
“I first studied models for managing change back in 2001 and I was soon using Lewin’s force field analysis and Kotter’s 8 steps for managing change in my first role as a psychologist in the Department for Work and Pensions. At the time, I saw change projects being managed as a large-scale, transformational type projects with dedicated resources, such as change champions, change project teams and a change project manager leading it all. The leadership team would shape the vision of the new world and there would be wide consultation about the impact upcoming change with a general expectation that a period of stability would be reached again. It was also fairly common to be rolling from a period of change to stability, to change to stability again in a cyclical organisational development approach.
Move forward nearly 20 years and I think we can all agree times are different now. Even before, Covid-19 I had been looking at what we had in change management models and thinking they all fell short. I have been working in positive psychology since 2009 and have increasingly felt the existing change management models do not take in the perspectives from this field.
I would like to introduce you to a model I have developed with my colleagues at Co-Creation which brings in important concepts from positive psychology and in our view reflects the realities of our world today.”
Rebecca Stevens, C.Psych, AFBPsS – Consultant Co-Creation
The Case for a New Model:
Principle 1: Change brings growth and opportunity to our lives and we have the capability to respond to this.
- Positive psychology is about working with what we have and assuming we have the will, the capability and the resources to grow and develop. Rather than traditional deficit psychology approaches which assume we need to be fixed and we need input from others to fix us. Hence the focus in psychology on therapeutic approaches, which have their place but less so in business. Human beings want to change; it’s part of our DNA.
Principle 2: Our whole environment is in constant change and we are always adapting.
- The pace of change in technology which impacts our style of communications and ways of working is ever-increasing. The model of VUCA emphasises this with its focus on responding to environments which have Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. The pace of technological change brings with it an environment of constant change. Accelerated by the pandemic this year of course. No longer does change in a business environment have a beginning, middle or end; it’s constant evolution.
Principle 3: Change is incremental, ongoing and part of our day-to-day.
- Change was often viewed as a large-scale project, with dedicated resources to deliver and a strong focus on the tasks needed to deliver on business efficiencies and improvements. However, what I see now is incremental, constant change, typically working towards a vision and with a purpose, but never at the end. It is also part of our day-to-day and an expected part of our roles. You don’t have to look far to see this within Agile and Lean methodologies which have increasing popularity. Change is part of our everyday roles.
Our Strengths Model for Change Management:
Given these principles as the basis, at Co-Creation we propose the following as a strengths-based model for managing change:
We create a positive future vision based on collective goals. We reframe our challenges to create a preferred future state i.e. what we desire, not what we are moving away from. We ensure this vision is based on what we think, feel, know and do; to bring clarity in how we describe and communicate the vision. We create a strong sense of purpose at the individual, team and organisational level. Purpose gives us energy, commitment, resilience and engagement.
We encourage and pro-actively build in diversity, a key to high performing organisations. We particularly focus on strengths diversity in our teams, developing our conscious knowledge of what individuals are energised by, motivated by and capable of, in order to build teams which play to each other’s strengths e.g. by using Strengthscope®. As the leader, we are clear about our own strengths and who we are as an individual, working collaboratively with other leaders to ensure diversity at every level of an organisation. We use this strengths diversity to overcome blockers, to tackle challenges and resistance in ongoing change. We proactively aim for collective, rather than silo working; building vulnerability-based trust. Our systems and processes support this. We focus on relationships, networks and connections.
We are both head and heart driven. We are human centric in our thinking, in our decisions and in our communications. Ensuring we are making the most of all being different and we are empowered to use our strengths. Our communications have clarity, honesty and transparency. Leaders are listening, they are also learning from their people and are living the values of the organisation. They are authentic and individual. Leaders create the conditions for great communications to enable pace and decision making on their teams. Enabling organisations to survive and thrive.
We create psychological safety to think creatively and innovate. We encourage a ‘test and learn’ approach to new ideas, embracing failing fast and learning quicker using reflective thinking. We encourage our people to have a growth mind-set and look for the possibilities and opportunities in situations. Leaders move people from the Path of Limitation™ to the Path of Possibility™ to facilitate this. We self-manage our intrinsic mindset to build our own confidence and capability to thrive in constant change e.g. by using Engage®. We aspire to always be learning.
We set the pace appropriate to the individuals, organisation and context. We make decisions using principles and values with a clear link to our purpose, rather than ‘rules’ which go quickly out of date. Decisions are made with flexibility in mind and at the right time; there is healthy conflict in decision-making. The organisational shape and structure is fluid, connected and right for the context; able to shift responsively as demands change. We have appropriate and flexible resources, processes, budgets which are forecast more adaptively for the greater instability in our environment. We have pace and agility.
Focus on Outcomes
Our purpose has a clear link to our outcomes and is the driver of our actions. We create processes in positive language, focused on outcomes and impact. We regularly measure and review the organisation’s and our people’s health and wellbeing. We hold each other accountable in this, with a positive frame of reference. We celebrate and reward effort and achievements, to continuously reinforce what ‘we want to see around here’ as our culture. Change embodies and involves everyone; it’s part of our day to day roles and responsibilities.
Find out more
At Co-Creation we would like to present this as our model for change management. Based in the foundations of positive psychology and developed by myself (Rebecca Stevens) and the Co-Creation strategy team (Angela Ryrie, Dan Masters, Dave Harrison, Jo Clare, Kath Thomas, Keith Stopforth, Louise Johnson & Michelle Pratt) to meet the challenges faced by organisations, leaders, teams and individuals in today’s world.
We would like to acknowledge and thank the following thought leaders in the field for our inspiration: Patrick Lencioni for his model The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Dr Paul Brewerton for his model for strengths and his psychometric Strengthscope®, Dr Jodi O’Dell for her research on intrinsic motivators and her psychometric Engage® and Professor Carol Dweck for her model of growth mind-set. They have all been significant influencers in our ways of thinking and in our ways of working on the Co-Creation team.
In our development of this model we did review a number of existing change models, exploring these from a strengths-perspective, including: Lewin’s change management model, The McKinsey 7-S model, Kotter’s 8 step process for leading change, Nudge theory, ADKAR, Bridges’ transition model, Kübler-Ross’ change curve and The Satir change management model.
Are you seeking support with leading your teams through change? Call Co-Creation on +44 7876 024555 to speak with a member of our specialist team, or email us for further guidance on how to manage change using a strengths-based approach.