3 Simple Questions To Energize A Discussion About Change


At many of the conferences or corporate meetings where I am asked to speak, there is almost always someone talking about innovation. I hear things like “We need to develop more customer-centric ways of doing business” or “Leverage technology to increase speed to execution,” or one of my personal favorites, “Increase collaboration across the enterprise.”

While this focus on how things needs to change is important, I believe more time should be spent with a team on discovering why things need to change. Encouraging team members to provide input early in the change management process gives them increased ownership in the change processes that are initiated later.

To get your team more engaged in talking about where change might be needed, use these three questions:

What do we know?
What are some facts, data, or statistics that indicate something needs to change? Examples:

  • Revenue is down 10% for the 1st quarter
  • Absenteeism is up 13% over last year
  • We haven’t introduced a new product in two years

What do we think we know?
Answers here come from the insights and experiences of your team members. They won’t be as quantifiable as responses in the first question, and may not even be significant reasons to change… but you never know until you ask the question. Examples:

  • We’re struggling to adapt to the new system
  • Customers are frustrated with the usability of the app
  • Morale is down

What do we not know?
While it sounds like a contradiction in terms, you’ll be surprised by how people respond to this question. Making the best decisions for the future depends on first exploring what the future might look like. Examples:

  • We don’t know what our medical reimbursement rates will be next year (A common one for healthcare)
  • We don’t know who might be retiring soon
  • We don’t know how our customer’s needs are changing

Most importantly, capture the answers given and use them to begin developing answers to “how” things might need to change in response to these insights. To me, that’s a more sensible way to... begin leveraging the collaborative efforts of your team to align with desired outcomes.

For more on this topic:
How To More Quickly Motivate Your Team Members To Change
Managing The Weeds Of Change

And if you're looking to lead change more effectively, check out my new book, Always Growing.