Sustaining Change! Starting with the End in Mind

Picture this. You are working with an architect to build a new home. As you are planning the number of rooms, the layout, and the size of the rooms, what are you thinking about? You are not only thinking about the structure itself, right? You are imagining yourself living in this new home. You reminisce about your family’s routines, while together or apart. You plan for future social gatherings, such as holidays and celebrations. And just possibly, with the new world that we live in, you will want to create spaces to work-from-home. Clearly understanding this bigger picture is extremely important before breaking ground. This level of thinking is ‘starting with the end in mind’.

As a leader involved in delivering innovation for Procter & Gamble, I understood that the ‘Consumer is Boss’. While formulating, designing, and delivering new products, a significant amount of time is spent up front to understand the needs of our consumers; the people buying and using our products. Innovation starts with the end in mind.

Similarly, designing a new supply chain starts with understanding the capability and needs of your retail customers. Not only for the brick and mortar stores (e.g. Walmart) but also for ecommerce (e.g. Amazon). If you design a supply chain that only supports the manufacturer of the products, then you are destined to miss your mark! The product that you are selling needs to be in the right place at the right time to maximize retail sales.

Starting with the end in mind while planning for change involves understanding, up front, what it will take to sustain the change. While developing your Change Management Plan, you should first, take time to clearly define the desired level of adoption of the future state, and then work backward! Make sense?

What should you consider when defining the desired level of adoption?

  1. What is the story? Change is not made for the sake of change. Usually there is a need for a change to close current gaps, to support new business scenarios, to deploy new technologies, or to prepare for the future. To understand what level of adoption will be required for the change, you need to grasp the ‘why’ for the change and its level of importance.
  2. Have business leaders already defined the level of adoption needed to meet the broader strategy? Seek this out! If this already exists, you will avoid rework.
  3. Are you trying to change behaviors? If so, what are the new behaviors that you want stakeholders to adopt? Starting with the end in mind, the Theory of Planned Behavior states that you should focus on three beliefs about a person’s intention to perform the behavior. These include behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs, and control beliefs. The diagram below is a good summary of this theory. This behavior change model can be applied to boost adoption.

  4. What happens when you consider the ‘Stakeholder is Boss’? Take time to learn what stakeholders really care about. Remember, there can be multiple stakeholders at all levels of the organization. Start with their ‘WIIFM’ (What’s in it for me?) They may also care about belonging, customers, community, helping others, social good, etc. Take a walk in their shoes!
  5. What measures of success can you put in place up front to guide you to the level of adoption desired? Can you put rewards in place along the way to encourage adoption?

What Change Guides tools can you implement in the beginning, while completing them with the end in mind?

Here are two ‘Sustain Tools’ to consider. You can find these in The Change Management Pocket Guide[1].

  • Change Integration Checklist – Completing this tool up front will help you to define how you want your organization to operate after the change is complete. You should make plans to deliver the items that you checked ‘Yes’ or ‘Somewhat’. You can then revisit this checklist post implementation to see if you accomplished what you intended!
  • Post Implementation Scorecard – It is recommended that initial goals and metrics are captured in this tool, up front. Yet, be prepared to also add success measures for adoption. Overall, be sure to start with baseline results for each metric and then collect results along the way to keep the change and adoption on track.

An Example

Recently I was the change leader at a local company for the implementation of Microsoft Teams. This is a powerful collaboration tool that has gained popularity in support of the unpredicted remote workforce. We found ourselves, after a very quick implementation of Microsoft Teams, wondering about adoption. Even though we had to move fast, asking questions in the beginning about adoption should have been considered. Why Microsoft Teams vs. other technologies? Have business leaders already defined the level of adoption needed to meet a broader strategy? Are we trying to change behaviors? You may be wondering, had we asked these questions up front, would we have adjusted the way we implemented the change? Possibly! In the least, we would have had an optimal adoption plan in place to best support the stakeholders.

One Final Thought

I have competed in and completed multiple marathons. Do you know what a marathon runner thinks about through all the hours, days, weeks, and months of training? The finish line. How about at the starting line, what does a marathon runner think about? Yep, they are thinking about the finish line. In fact, this is what a marathon runner is pushing for throughout all 26.2 miles of the race itself! From start to finish, the end is in mind. Waiting at that finish line is the celebration of a great accomplishment and the awarding of a finisher’s medal. In fact, a marathon runner’s journey would never begin without the understanding and desire for what is waiting at the finish line!


[1] Nelson, K., & Aaron, S. (2005). The change management pocket guide: Tools for managing change. Change Guides LLC.