Posts Tagged ‘approach’

TheThinker1We are always under pressure to act quickly and boldly. Go, go, go.

But how are we going to act? With so many methodologies and strategies and tools and tactics available and burdened with our own not unimportant biases, how do we choose to act and what do we choose to act upon? Where does one start? How does one choose?

This is where we take a deep breath. This is where we take a moment to ponder.

And what are we going to ponder? We are going to ponder our environment. We are going to ponder what I call the materials at hand. What do we have to work with?

I encounter this “materials at hand” situation quite often when I have people ask me to build them a piece of furniture but don’t want to spend money on materials. So we begin to ask questions. What is that we are trying to build? What material do we have sitting around? What are the characteristics of those materials? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What tools do we have to work with these materials?  How much can we change the design? And so on.

We can ponder the material at hand in the change world as well. Not only can we ponder this way, we should always ponder this way.

Since we know what our change proposal is, we can start asking questions. What are the characteristics of the process we are trying to change? What are the characteristics of the organizational structure? What are the characteristics of the leaders, the managers, the people? What skills sets and experiences are available? What ones are not?

This is how we begin to understand the materials at hand. This is how we understand the maturity and developmental level of an organization. What foundation do we have to work with?

This is how we know what wrung of the ladder we can start on. This tells us which strategies and methods and tools are in play. And that is what we are after.

So breathe and ponder.




 Methodologies abound in change management and process engineering. I’ve worked extensively with a few, been exposed to a few more and have read about countless others. I have my opinions on many of them but that would take days to ramble through and not necessary today.

What I want to talk about today is the need to define your own approach. I don’t mean you need to invent one (That would be quite the assignment), and I don’t wish for you to regurgitate the text book definition of a method you favor. What I mean is that we all have a way of approaching projects that have evolved over time based on our own experiences and our exposure or study of methodologies.

What is the benefit of doing this, you might ask. Sometimes we are so busy doing our jobs we don’t take time to reflect on how we are doing them. This is a good exercise to explore how we currently think even if you never show it to anyone. Our approaches should be fluid so this is good periodic exercise to see how we are changing.

I have come to find that there is nothing like having to explain your approach as a way of synthesizing what it is. You must organize all the thoughts and actions you might take into a workable and actionable framework. You must clarify the reasons and objectives behind these thoughts and actions. You must clarify expectations and roles.

You might also find holes or weaknesses in your approach. If necessary you can then go in search of tools and techniques to fill the holes. A good motivator to search out knowledge.

As you do this you begin to see where a whole trove of philosophies you’ve adopted fit. Like all the blogs that have come before this for me. These ideas and techniques all fit somewhere in my method. Then they begin to become more present. More available.

Once you have done this your ability to walk a new partner through your approach becomes much easier . Communication becomes so much easier. You feel much more in control.

You might even have more than one approach depending on the context of the project. That’s good. Flexibility is valuable.

I’ll end by giving you an abbreviated example of my approach. I call it the Lewis and Clark method. You can tell I’m not a professional method designer because first letters of the sections of the method don’t spell anything. They just make sense. This method assumes I already have a vision or a goal for my project.

Explore, Map, Analyze, Decide, Move, Repeat


Look around. Get to know the people, the lay of the land. Educate. Build bonds. Build skills.


Visualize the situation. Get down as much as you currently know that lies between you and the goal. Don’t map too far ahead. Educate. Build bonds. Build skills.


See what the map tells you. Gather more information and data based on what you know and where you want to go. Look at the map again. Find some places you can reasonably get to. Educate. Build bonds. Build skills.


Make the best decision you can with what you currently know. Be flexible. Take what the beast will give. Choose your destination. Identify necessary resources, give assignments and roles. Educate. Build bonds. Build skills.


You can send a scout by doing a prototype or you can do a pilot by using a whole team. You just need to move and be directionally accurate. Educate. Build bonds. Build skills.


Once you are near or at your sub-goal you start over by exploring the new conditions.

This is just a shell and I could add all sorts of actions around relationship building and communication and so on. I could visualize it. Make a presentation with all sorts of paths and graphics (which I did do about a year ago).

But this alone allows me to talk about my approach with ease. Once I had more specifics on a project I could begin to fill in with more specific tools and techniques I might use.

You’ll notice I repeated educate, build bonds, build skills. That’s the piece for me that is so often missing. So I put it in all phases to remind me.

Your approach will look different because we all have different backgrounds and experiences. Give it a try. See what you can learn about yourself.