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Planning your change when it seems too big to handle


Where do you start your change planning when its big, has lots of moving parts and everyone’s involved but no one wants to take accountability? It’s a bit like the quote: How do you eat an elephant? The answer – one bite at a time! With your change project, it can seem overwhelming, where do you start and how do you get the job done.

Here are ten tips to help you plan your change, know where to start, focus on what is important:

Find a friend or a colleague who can help you think through the change, what is required, and who needs to be involved. This person should be a logical thinker with a good knowledge of what is currently happening and what needs doing. They will be your ‘critical friend’ to help you expand your thinking, offer possibilities and help you identify the risks.

Brainstorm on a whiteboard or a large piece of paper, put down all the things that are changing and where there could be interdependencies. A Mind Map is a great tool to document the change and the things that need to get done to make the project a success.

What are your gaps? Think about your current state, and what your future state should look like. What are the gaps? What are your strategies, actions and tasks to close the gaps? These actions are the basis of the project plan and change strategy.

Chunk up any actions or tasks into projects with a defined start and end? When do they need to be completed, and when should they start.

Plan it out by taking your smaller projects, tasks and actions and map them out on a timeline. What is urgent and needs to be done first? What is important and must be done for the successful completion of the project? What are the dependencies for a successful project outcome?

Plan in short time horizons now that you understand the change landscape. Don’t try to make all the change happen at once (remembering you can’t eat the elephant all at once!). Plan the first horizon in detail. The tasks for the next horizon will become clear as you work your way towards completing the first horizon. Make your horizon time manageable – around 3 months works for larger projects, but this will depend on how long the entire project will take.

Look for low hanging fruit for project and actions that can be done quickly (within a month of starting the change or the horizon) to get some early runs on the board. Let people know when you have successfully completed this to motivate the team and let them know the overall change is happening and can be a positive experience.

Obtain Sponsor input from your project sponsor to check that the timing, horizons and change outcomes are what they need. Getting your Sponsor’s endorsement is critical, as is keeping them updated on progress throughout the project.

Make it visible for all to see. Put your plan up in a common area or on a shared intranet site. Having the team understand the steps needed to make the change happen will help with motivation and progress.

Celebrate successes and wins – make sure you celebrate the large and small successes. Recognise the successes and thank the people involved for their contribution. Mark the occasion – it could be a morning tea for the team, or publicly thanking them in a team meeting.

A large change can be less imposing if you start by noting down each of the logical steps one at a time. To encourage progression through the plan make a point of celebrating each completed stage.

Remember, planning the change is like eating the elephant, one bite at a time.

TMS Consulting specialises in managing change from large transformational through to small projects. For a no obligation discussion about how to approach your change project, contact one of our consultants on (07) 3003 1473 or email

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TMS Consulting