Consciously Designing Change Processes that Work

I recently got a call from a CEO of a software company that is bringing to market a financial accounting system that generates increased profit for clients by shifting how they run the financial aspects of their business. The software company is overwhelmed with sales. Their business model is that they do not take fees; rather, they take a percentage of the clients increased profits. Very cool.

The problem is that their software drives real transformational change in the business as it calls for a dramatic shift of mindset and behavior. The CEO called me asking if we could train and certify in the Being First Approach 40 transformational change consultants in the next 6 months. Over the past year, he’s found that traditional change management consultants do not have sufficient skills to make these implementations successful, and his company does not get paid unless they are successful.

The core skill he is looking for but cannot find in traditional change management is Conscious Change Process Design. This is a critical, albeit advanced, skill inherent in conscious change leadership.

Change Process and River Flow

Consciously design where your change process flows

I often conceive of conscious change process design as a river, with me designing where it needs to flow. It all starts with identifying the impacts the content changes will have on stakeholders. In transformational change, these impacts often take the form of stakeholder resistance in one way or another. One must look underneath the resistance, however, and identify what core human needs are being triggered that is causing the resistance. Such needs can include: safety, inclusion, power, order and control, competence, justice and fairness. In other words, the new content is bringing up the stakeholders’ natural human issues, and these will need to be resolved for them to really buy-in and commit to implementing and using the new content optimally. Your river will have to flow through these issues.

There are many ways to handle stakeholder resistance, but none work as well as consciously designing a change process that in itself mitigates that resistance. This means designing the activities and tasks of the change process so stakeholders’ concerns get met. For example, let’s assume the new software triggers control issues. Then, the change leaders would want to engage those stakeholders early, giving them as much control as possible over both the change process and the use of the new content. If the underlying issue was competence, then the change leaders would want to engage stakeholders early so they could build their competence, and therefore, confidence in the new content. They’d want to announce early that everyone will get adequate training, and that no one will be held accountable for using the new system perfectly until after they have been trained.

Conscious change process design requires a deeper insight into the human dynamic. You simply must understand the inner workings of people. It requires flexibility, as you must constantly adjust your change process as new dynamics emerge. It also requires an expansive level of awareness to see impacts across the enterprise and how the content/people dynamic is likely to unfold over time.

Conscious change process design is anything but linear. You have to put aside set, predetermined formulas, and bring your wisdom to the show. People using an end-to-end change process methodology like The Change Leader’s Roadmap can rely on their methodology to gently inform them of the general direction of change, but on the ground, you will constantly need to be awake, and consciously design each step along the way to account for the specific dynamics you face. Make your river flow through and handle these issues and you will succeed.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


With this extensively upgraded second edition, Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson solidify their status as the leading authorities on change leadership and organizational transformation. This is without question the most comprehensive approach for leaders who are serious about making change a strategic discipline. Beyond Change Management is an intelligent book by two of the most knowledgeable and accomplished masters of their craft, and it’s one that every conscious change leader should adopt as their guide to creating more meaningful organizations.

Jim Kouzes
Coauthor of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge and The Truth About Leadership

Read this great book by Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson and learn how to use their multi-dimensional approach to lead transformation masterfully and consciously!

Marshall Goldsmith
World-renowned executive coach
Author of the New York Times best-sellers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

An important move toward a more integral business consulting approach, very much recommended for those interested in the topic and ways to actually apply it. 

Ken Wilber
Author, The Integral Vision, A Brief History of Everything, and over a dozen other best-sellers

Dean and Linda are core to the field of conscious change leadership, and continue to stretch and push its boundaries in this rich and deep compendium. This is a must read from two consummate thought leaders who have devoted their careers to developing highly successful change leaders. Read it and immediately improve your change leadership or consulting success.

Bev Kaye
CEO, Career Systems International
Author of Love 'em or Lose 'em: Getting Good People to Stay

This book is about mastery of leading the transformational change process written by masters of the craft.  For corporate leaders and consultants who consider themselves committed students of the process of organizational change.

Daryl Conner
Chairman, Conner Partners
Author of Managing at the Speed of Change and Leading at the Edge of Chaos

Beyond Change Management is a timely how-to guide for leading change in the 21st century. It provides both a conceptual roadmap, and practical tools and techniques for successfully transforming organizations.

Noel Tichy
Professor, University of Michigan
Co-author with Warren Bennis of JUDGMENT: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls

Once again, Dean and Linda have nailed it! Beyond Change Management is an extraordinary book examining the shifts in change management that have occurred over the years. This book offers real, practical solutions for change practitioners to become extraordinary conscious change leaders.

Darlene Meister
Director, Unified Change Management
United States House of Representatives

Powerful business solutions to the current chaos facing many organizations today. Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson get to the heart of change, the human touch, by using timeless techniques and tools.
Ken Blanchard
Co-Author of The One Minute Manager and Leading at a Higher Level

Having applied this methodology for two years to manage change inside Microsoft, it has been instrumental in our ability to land change effectively, engage employees and deliver results quickly. The Change Leader’s Roadmap allows us to lead change with precision and minimal outside consulting, while at the same time growing change leadership capability internally. This is the most complete change methodology we have found anywhere.

Pete Fox
General Manager, Corporate Accounts
Microsoft US

This newest edition of The Change of Leader’s Roadmap is an invaluable, comprehensive and practical guide for envisioning an organization’s desired future, designing the structures and practices necessary to make it happen, and implementing them effectively. The book describes the change process in nine distinct phases and outlines the activities and tasks that need to occur in each phase. It provides change leaders with an essential map for successfully traversing the complex and uncertain terrain of transformational change.   

Thomas G. Cummings
Professor and Chair, Department of Management & Organization
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California

This is the next best thing to having Dean, Linda and the Being First team riding alongside your complex change initiative. The Change Leader’s Roadmap breeds confidence in senior executive “Champions” to guide not just a successful transformational change, but most importantly, to develop the mission critical organizational CULTURE that will ensure unparalleled return on investment. Nothing I have seen in my 32 years of leading change comes close.

Jeff Mulligan
Former CEO, Common Wealth Credit Union
Mayor, City of Lloydminster

After implementing more than 2000 business strategy and operational excellence initiatives, we set out to find the best change methodology and toolbox in the world. The methodology this book describes is it! Study it thoroughly, because the thinking, process approach and pragmatic tools really work!

Thomas Fischer
Director COO
Valcon Management Consultants A/S

A practical, step-by-step guide for change leaders, managers and consultants. The book provides conceptually grounded, real world, time tested tools and guidance that will prove invaluable to those faced with navigating the challenges of leading organizational change in today's turbulent times.

Robert J. Marshak, Ph.D.
Senior Scholar in Residence
MSOD Program, American University
Organizational Change Consultant