How to implement organisational changes in 7 steps


We recently introduced a change to how we give feedback at Stylight. The way we introduce organisational changes assumes that our culture is mostly aligned with an Agile mindset (compare [Sohata]). We think everyone should have an opportunity to contribute. These are the steps we went trough.

  1. Prioritise which changes to tackle first
    In order to find out which topics are most important to employees at the moment, we hosted a company-wide world café. This was very helpful to get people discussing organisational topics. It also created awareness that organisational changes are hard to implement and that there is no one right solution. We also do quarterly anonymous employee surveys to invite people to reflect and surface any issues that are not coming up otherwise.
  2. Knowledge sharing and giving background
    We found it helpful to get everyone on the same page about the mindset we are basing our change initiatives on. It gave people a sense of the general direction we are heading. We did this in a presentation by the founders to the company, where we showed the basics of teal organisations, generational changes, motivation, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs etc.We followed this up by a couple of brown bag lunches digging a bit deeper in some of the topics, which sparked some lively discussions about where we are and where we want to go.
  3. Design experiments for small incremental changes
    We make our experiments incremental to a) limit risk and b) to honour what worked in the past. In the feedback example, we changed from quarterly feedback sessions with your people manager to 2x feedback session with your people manager + 2x feedback session with your peer group alternating throughout the year.
  4. Create space for people to give feedback and influence decisions
    We try to make the  work in progress as transparent as possible by working in a document accessible by everyone. Everyone interested was invited to a couple of org guild sessions to be able to influence and take part in the experiment design. From talking with people from other companies, we know, that focus groups and limiting the number of people involved works for some of them. For us, the self-selected group that showed up for the org guild sessions worked well, without the need to artificially limit the number of attendees.
  5. Try it out with some volunteers
    We do this to limit the risk of a change initiative and to iron out some quirks in the idea before rolling it out to everyone. Also, this way you only have to convince some early adopters at first, while the majority can wait and see if this idea sticks around. We try to be very specific about the time and what happens during the trial period. We try to recruit enthusiasts, sceptics as well as people that are likely to promote the idea after the trial.
  6. Share experiences
    To convince the early majority we did a fireside chat brown bag lunch with four participants of the trial. First everyone answered a few questions about their experience during the trial. Then the stage was opened for Q&A from the audience.
  7. Make results explicit
    We officially announced the change via Email, which is our official channel for things everyone should know. The current process is documented in our handbook, which is intended as a guide for new employees to learn how we do things at Stylight, but also serves as a reference for veterans.

Not all organisational changes are equal and go through all these steps. If some of the steps are left out, it should be a conscious decision, rather than oversight.

How about you?

How are you implementing organisational changes? What do like or dislike about ours? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Casey Fyfe


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