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Change Management Tools: The House of Change

This article comes from Solitaire Consulting Associate, Tim Rogers MBA

There are lots of models for change management that have developed over many years. Not all will work in all situations so it is essential to have several tools in your toolbox and select the right one for the right situation.

The House of Change is perhaps less widely known than some other models you may have come across, but was particularly useful for me throughout my project when “incorporating” elements of the public sector (Example: Transforming the Harbours and Airport from public sector departments to the private company now known as Ports of Jersey).

The House of Change is in some ways similar to the better known Kübler-Ross Change Curve, but it is not about grief. The Change Curve over simplifies by assuming the organisation moves through the phases of change together and sequentially.

By contrast The Change House does not assume we have the same starting and end-point in our journey. Indeed it explores where people are and where they could be, indicating a possible move in any direction. It notes that at any time different people, teams, departments or mindsets may be in different rooms with different perspectives.

In this version of the Change House there are 7 elements

  1. Room of Contentment People are happy, complacent and possibly ignorate of crisis or need to change
  2. Room of Denial People do not believe change is necessary or will come, or will impact them
  3. Room of Confusion People are uncertain about implications, impact, meaning, what changes and what does not
  4. Dungeon of Despair People spiral into decline and need help or support
  5. Pit of Paralysis People do not know what they should be doing and pause for guidance or assurance
  6. Wrong Door Of Reality Some people may leave and others may arrive
  7. Room of Renewal People become confident, competent and comfortable

What is good about this

The model is useful to help people understand people’s positions and possible reactions to change, both in terms of emotion and behaviour ostensibly helping organisations understand resistance to change. It can be used to plan communications and anticipate interventions for support for people “stuck in their room”.

What is bad about this

It does appear to be formulaic and people may feel anxious if “put in a room” and manipulated if subject to a script or plan to move them according to the needs of the organisation. People will feel like individuals even if they behave like a herd, and it is important not to personalise and respect that change and pace may be very different for each person and it isn’t as simple as moving sheep into a pen.

My experience

I have used this to plan interventions and support people in each room and their movements between the rooms: From complacency through denial and onward and upward to the room or renewal.

This process respects the concept of change as being in steps: Denial (This is not happening) Defence (This is not fair) Discuss (Some changes are necessary) Adapt (Can we compromise) Adopt (I can go with this). Some people pass through these steps very quickly, others linger their room, refusing to come out.

The aim is to move quickly through uncertainty or anxiety, not to dwell but to accept, adapt and adopt change along the way. As a leader it is important to look after people’s well-being and a healthy mindset is essential to create the capacity, drive and desire for change. We must nurture and support which means not leaving them to negative downward spiral of despair or fright.

Inevitably some people may leave and others may arrive (door of reality) and so the process needs to take account of the inevitable reorientation or induction which is essential for us to progress upward (renewal and growth) rather than downward (paralysis).

Practical tools include communications which offer appropriate messages for each room. This may be uncomfortable truths for those who are in the room of contentment, or facts and figures for those in denial. Those who spiral into despair may need a buddy, a coach, mentoring maybe even counselling depending on the nature of the shift. For those who are confused vision, opportunity, hope, support and training are essential. This is essential to create upward momentum. Goals, targets, behaviours, appraisals and rewards all encourage progress over paralysis.

Your organisation

If you are interested in this or any of the other tools, techniques, training or models for change please get in touch. We offer advice, coaching or consultancy which may be useful to support technical or organisational change. We are happy to have a coffee and a conversation about your needs and possible approaches without any obligation. We love what we do and are happy to share that with you.

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