Change. It’s a word that can evoke excitement or trepidation. As a leader, navigating change requires a delicate balance. Whether you’re a Scrum Master, Product Owner, Developer, or manager, you need to be passionate about the improvements you seek, but also adaptable to new information and perspectives.

The Change Hypothesis can be your secret weapon!

Creating a testable hypothesis using this simple template helps you analyze the change, articulate it clearly, and guide those you’re leading toward the desired outcome:

   We believe that, by [(3) taking these actions],
   we will [(2) achieve this desired future state]
   and avoid [(1) the current status quo pain points].
   We’ll observe if that’s happening by [(4) reviewing these measures].

Here’s a roadmap to guide you through leading successful change:

(1) Current Status Quo Pain Points

Change, by its very nature, disrupts the status quo. We are creatures of habit, and venturing outside our comfort zones can be unsettling. Ignoring this discomfort is a recipe for resistance.

Instead, acknowledge the pain points of the current situation. 

Use storytelling to illustrate the negative consequences of inaction. Maybe a particular process is leading to customer frustration, or inefficiencies are hindering productivity. Quantify the impact with data to make the urgency undeniable.

(2) Desired Future State

Once you’ve established the “why” behind the change, it’s time to share the “where.” Craft a clear and inspiring vision of the future state. What will things look like after the change is implemented? How will it benefit the organization and those involved?

Storytelling is powerful here too. Vividly describe the improvements people can expect. Don’t just tell them what will change, show them. But remember, vision alone isn’t enough. Supplement your narrative with data-driven metrics that will track progress and demonstrate the change’s success.

(3) Taking Action

People crave a clear path forward, so answer the question, “What’s my role in this?”

Your challenge is to present options that are specific enough for people to understand and act on, while also being open enough that they can have ownership of their part of the change. Try giving some specific example actions, coupled with a few parameters that give boundaries around the broader types of behaviors that will support the change. This fosters a sense of ownership and builds momentum as initial wins are achieved.

(4) Reviewing Measures

Not all metrics are created equal. When selecting metrics to track the progress of your change initiative, resist the urge to focus on activity alone. Did people attend the training session? While important, this doesn’t necessarily tell you if they’re applying the new skills.

Instead, focus on outcome-based metrics. Look for quantifiable measures that reflect the impact of the change.  For example, if your goal is to improve customer satisfaction, track changes in customer satisfaction scores after the change is implemented.

By identifying the outcome-based metrics, everyone gains valuable insights into the effectiveness of the change efforts. This encourages course-correction and discussion that ultimately lead to achieving the desired outcomes.

Embrace the Hypothesis

Think of change as an experiment. Since change involving human behavior is complex, we cannot be certain about the connection between actions and outcomes. The humility and curiosity of a hypothesis help us lead boldly in uncertainty.

The beauty of the Change Hypothesis lies in its adaptability. As you gather feedback and encounter challenges, revisit your hypothesis. Based on what you learn, refine your actions or adjust your vision. This iterative approach keeps the change process moving forward, even when the path isn’t always linear.

Leading change isn’t about brute force. It’s about fostering a shared vision, providing a clear path forward, and being flexible as you navigate the journey together. By following this simple template, you can increase your chances of guiding your team through change and achieving lasting success.

And this is how you can get your change unstuck.


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