Change can be unpredictable, but how you understand change and its impact doesn’t have to be.
Whether we proactively want to make changes to improve our personal lives, or change is being thrusted upon upon us in a professional context, change can have a huge impact on our well-being. Positive change can improve motivation, drive creativity and generally improve our sense of self, whereas negative change can have the opposite effect – increasing stress and anxiety.
On some level, all change requires a leap into the unknown, especially when you are not the instigator. But even if you are being proactive, a step away from the status quo can throw up a number of uncertainties and still be nerve-wracking. So how can you better understand change and its impact for better results and a smoother transition?
Making positive change, or mitigating the negative impact of change, requires an understanding of the full picture, or the system that the change is part of, and the various component parts that make up the whole.
Here are 4 steps to understand change and its impact.
1. Understand your current position
In order to truly understand change, the first step is to understand your starting point. I’ve previously covered understanding the problem in relation to better decision-making, and the same principle applies here.
Map out everything you know about where you are now: the status quo, the catalysts for change, the stakeholders involved, etc. For example, you may feel that a career change is on the horizon, but you’re unsure about what direction you want to go in. Do you want a new career because you want more financial stability, or perhaps a better work life balance to spend time with your children? By identifying all the parts that make up your current position, you build a working model to base further analysis on.
2. Identify the end goal
What is it that you want to achieve by making changes? And if the change hasn’t been instigated by you, what could be the best possible outcome? For example, this could be to better understand your customer behaviors. Identifying the end goal not only gives you something to work towards, it also gives you a better understanding of the current problem. What is it about your current system that prevents you from tracking customer behavior, for example?
At this point, you should also identify the variables that could have an impact on getting from your current position to the end goal. If you implement a new tech solution, will you have to retrain your employees? Does it integrate with your existing tech stack? With an idea of the variables, you can start building an understanding of the ‘moving parts’ of the change.
3. Design your path
How do you get from your current position to the end goal? Plan out the steps and the resources needed to get from your current position to the end goal. Do you need external help, for example? Now is the time to figure out where that may come from.
Consider how the variables identified impact the steps as you progress – chances are that once you start adjusting one variable, it’ll have a knock-on effect elsewhere. Make sure you’re aware of the possible consequences, especially on those whom the change affects.
One tip to making sure you’re on the right path is consulting with your stakeholders at this stage. Speaking to the people involved, allowing them to understand change and getting their feedback on your suggested path forward may allow you to consider it’s impact from another perspective.
For more information about how human-centered design helps build business resilience, check out Mika Raulas’ blog.
4. Implement the steps
You have your base line and where you want to go. You have all the steps in between. It’s now time to implement. As you progress with implementation, monitor the other components that you’ve already identified to see how they develop in line with the changes that you make.
You may find that it’s plain sailing, but as we all know, change is unpredictable and so keeping an eye out for unintended consequences means that you can react with speed and precision to mitigate any negative effects. Luckily, having mapped out the system that the change is part of, you can understand change in a way that enables you to assess its impact and adjust your approach for the best possible outcomes.