Long before the principles of Agile began to seep into change management a few change practitioners were experimenting with ways to rapidly create, develop and stress test their change management strategy and plans for challenging initiatives.  

The catalyst for these experiments were quite consistent across different organizations:

  1. Too few change resources
  2. Too little availability of key stakeholders
  3. Ever increasing desire for quicker project implementations
  4. Duplicating effort mining for information
  5. Difficulty connecting the dots between initiatives

It is important to point out that advice is generally freely available, as are files and change artefacts from other initiatives. Change practitioners are usually supportive and empathic so they are always ready to share. They are also overwhelmed with work like every other colleague. In our experiments we wanted to shift from advice to insights, from rework or duplication to rapidly getting work done.

One successful result of our experimenting which proves it’s value time and time again is something we call a Change Lab.

What is a Change Lab?

We describe a Change Lab as a ‘space’ where change practitioners and key stakeholders come together to work on a specific initiative or project’s change management plan. It is the change manager who invites others to come together, shoulder-to-shoulder to get work done. This invitation to co-create can come at any point in the project’s lifecycle.  

The change manager who will be ‘hosting’ must be very clear about what the objective of the change lab is. Prior to coming together the CM issues a request list (not unlike the Backlog in Sprint methodology) and a very clear statement of change management challenge. For example the challenge might be the best approach for rapid development of a blended learning solution. Or it could be understanding the key stakeholders in overseas subsidiaries.  

In a few organizations we have learned that Change Labs are encouraged and supported by Change Centre of Excellence or Change Community of Practice. We find Change Labs help to build more capacity for change as well as improve change capability. What could be better than boosting your knowledge, productivity and spreading viral messages about your initiative all at the same time?  

We know that variations of this approach are happening all over organizations.  Whether you are working out loud, doing think tanks, or any form of collaborative work between change practitioners, we want to talk Change Labs with you.  If none of this is happening and you are eager to accelerate the impact of change managers’ efforts, then you should be in this conversation too.

What next?

We will be holding an interactive session on the Change Lab approach, followed later by a live Change Lab session as a case study - tackling a current CMO challenge of a real enterprise change leader. Places are very limited but if you’d like more information on our Change Lab series then please contact info@issoriachange.com