The Three Little Pigs filmed as a political satire for a team awayday on Handling Change? Weird but wonderfully effective!
The setting was the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) at Cambridge University where staff were digesting news of potentially huge changes to their work. Not only this, but they were also gearing up for a move to a new office location.
So this awayday was a timely opportunity to equip them with the skills and attitudes they need to handle such changes effectively as individuals, and cohesively as a team.
What better way to get the ball rolling than to give them an experience of unexpected change? So I split them into two groups, each with a very different project, clear deliverables, key resources and a deadline.
One group was asked to make a demo film of the classic children’s story of the Three Little Pigs. The other group had to produce a menu for a St George’s Day buffet. Once they got started, I changed things around – people were swapped from one project to another, the scope widened, the budget changed.
Actually they showed impressive resilience and flexibility. Once they knew to expect change they built in processes to help them deal with it.
The end results were wonderful: the Three Little Pigs became three disabled student pigs pursued by a big and very bad wolf. The buffet menu sounded delicious and suitably patriotic.
Change is pretty much the norm in the modern workplace, but we don’t often step back to think about what we need to do to handle it proactively, rather than simply ‘coping.’
Our discussion of some theory around change explored the fact that when one element changes on a project, such as the scope, it’s important to consider the knock-on effects on other aspects, like risk and budget. And we looked at Stephen Covey’s Circles of Concern/Influence/ Control to enable the DRC team to identify the issues they can do something about during a time of change.
In the end the team agreed a set of Commitments for Change, specifying how they will treat one another and communicate during the change.
Managing change is a critical skill for leaders tasked with introducing and implementing a change initiative. But it’s just as important for staff affected by the change to feel they have the skills to handle it, whatever the impact.