asking why–who–how before deciding what to do...

Leading successful change involves 4 big questions—asked repeatedly as each new group of people get involved. inviting people to personalise their answers to these big questions increases individual commitment. inviting people to reshape their answers in groups builds alignment and commitment to deliver shared goals. Asking why invites people to play the long game.

why do we need to change?

who needs to do something differently?

how will we help people align and commit?

who needs to do what by when?

why do we need to change?

  • internal reasons... health and safety, operations, profitability, execution, improvement ideas, patents...
  • external reasons... legislation, competitors, customer and shareholder expectations, market or supplier changes...
  • benchmark comparisons that demonstrate either a need for improvement or untapped potential
  • why do we believe this change is important and why do we believe it is possible?
  • how will we define success? how will we know we are winning? (observable changes and outcomes)
  • what types of 'big picture' changes are needed for us to be successful? (described as moving from... X to Y)


who needs to do something differently to deliver the outcomes we are seeking?

  • why are people not doing these things today? Know? Able? Equipped? Want?
  • is any person or group delivering the desired results today, and if so, what are they doing differently, and why?
  • who are the people that will most influence this change?
    (at all organisational levels and considering customers, suppliers and other important stakeholders)


how will we help people align and commit to making change work?

  • how do people describe our new direction and why do they believe it is important?
  • how do people feel about the desired change and what will it take for them to give it a try?
  • how do people describe what they will do to make this change work in their part of the organisation?
  • how do people describe the critical few behaviours that will drive and sustain positive change?
  • how do people describe any additional changes they would like to make in support of our new direction?
  • how do people describe the support they need to deliver the desired results? Know? Able? Equipped? Want?


who needs to do what by when? (Project Management 101)

  • what are the deliverables, timelines and success criteria for each person and group involved?
  • what is the minimum amount of structure, reporting and coaching we need to guarantee success?
  • how can we help people share stories about why and how they are making change happen?
  • what types of support are required for our key influencers to feel supported, effective and recognised?


a simple example...