Evernote Change Project Part 5

Phase Two – Change

In this phase, we actually make the changes.

Lewin found that to effect change it was easier to change a group rather than an individual, in using a workshop method, he was able to show much better results than by passing the change information to one person then allow them to try and push the change.

The example that he shows is that of convincing group of mothers to increase the amount of fresh milk that they were giving to their children.

In one group he gave the positive change information to one mother, the other group he gave the information as a group, this second group responded better to the change, he then goes on to show that the forcefield of the one mother is insufficient to effect the change on the group whereas the group that discussed it as a group then went on to successfully change. What this doesn’t highlight is that it could have been more complex than this, the second group was still lead by a single person, this person was not one of the group so it could be that person was given elevated status by the group and therefore was more easily swayed by their proposal increased milk intake. This also doesn’t take into account whether the individual mother was of a lower standing in the group. There is a lot of group dynamic that Lewin himself identifies, that perhaps makes the model more complex.

Sturdy and Grey argue that change is socially a lot more complex than the change models take into account, whilst I agree with them that this is going to be the case whenever there are complex interactions and especially people involved, to take into account all social interactions would make for a very complex and unwieldy model. The more complex the model, the less likely it is to be correctly implemented, using a simplified model such as Lewin’s would increase the chance of following it. Sturdy and Grey argue that null change should be considered, however in reality a decision to change has already been made. Specifically with the Lewin model in mind, this is from an authoritarian era where the managers or owners decided on the course of action and expected it to be implemented with little consideration for the social side. In this respect Lewin was looking further than the “I say you do” approach. Sturdy and Grey argue that change Models do not sufficiently address the social aspect of change, Lewin however, looked directly at the social side of change with his work on field analysis, and its reactions within the groups.

It was this social side that I took into account when I implemented the Evernote system. I set up a small trial with some of the engineers that I expected to be more open to change, with this small subset of the team I was able to iron out many of the small bugs prior to releasing it to the further team. I then brought the entire team in to communicate how it would work, what the benefits to them would be and to assist in setting it up. The first trial members were on hand to help allay any fears of the change that the broader team had, this worked as Lewin had discovered the group pushed it forward and the peers that had assisted in the trials where bought into it, being able to show their peers the positives rather than just being dictated to by myself. This approach whilst still fitting within the Lewin model, does seem closer to an n step model such as Kotter’s eight step model.

Jason Pope Project Manager