Ask 100 people to define Change Management, and you'll get 100 different definitions. At the end of the day, the definition is just semantics. What really matters is whether you can implement a Change Management program in a practical way that allows you to support your organization in successfully achieving its goals. Whether you're a Change Manager, a consultant, or the tech. guy who was told to "figure out some Change Management stuff," this blog will help address common issues and topics you're likely to run into along the way.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

And Then a Miracle Happened

Welcome to the last installment of Practical Change Management's Virtual Book Club (VBC).  The discussion question I posed in my last post was:

The Question
On page 36, Chip and Dan discuss solution-focused therapy and begin to talk about the Miracle Question: "Suppose that you go to bed tonight and sleep well.  Sometime, in the middle of the night, while you are sleeping, a miracle happens and all the troubles that brought you here are resolved.  When you wake up in the morning, what's the first small sign you'd see that would make you think, 'Well, something must have happened - the problem is gone!'?"  How can the Miracle Question be used to improve overall projects and Change Management programs?

My Answer
Have you ever seen a presentation where someone describes the problem in great detail, lays out all of the wonderful benefits you'll see when they solve the problem, then in the middle where the actual solution should be they just have a big cloud with the words, "And then a miracle happened?"

I certainly have, and I find that people typically aren't very impressed with this image.  I think, though, that this slide relates back to the Miracle Question posed in solution-focused therapy, and I believe there is a legitimate place for it in projects.

I have seen so many projects grind to a halt because of "Analysis Paralysis."  The team faces a complex, overwhelming problem.  They want to make sure they develop a comprehensive, well-designed solution that will completely resolve the problem in a way that makes everyone happy.  To do this, they start doing research.  They begin to design the solution, but they aren't sure it's the best solution.  So, they do more research.  They tweak their design.  They're still not sure it's perfect.  So, they do more research.  They make some more updates.  They still have some doubts about the solution.  So, they do more research...

The cycle can continue indefinitely.  Eventually, they just give up, and instead of at least having a good solution, they're just left with the original problem.

This is where miracles come into play.

By posing the Miracle Question, "What's the first small sign you'd see that would make you think...'The  problem is gone!'?", the team can move from trying to solve a complex problem in one fell blow to focusing on the most visible, important part of the solution that they want to achieve.  All they have to do is create a solution that will bring about that "first small sign."

Focusing on this one piece of the solution will:

  • Narrow the scope of the problem they're addressing
  • Reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, increasing their confidence in their ability to successfully tackle the problem
  • Focus their research and development efforts
  • Break the Analysis Paralysis cycle
Once the team has achieved the "first small sign," they can go back and ask the Miracle Question again, deciding what the next "small sign" would be.  

They are once again in a cycle, but now, instead of being in a research cycle that leads to the ultimate demise of their project, they have entered a "doing" cycle that will lead them step-by-step to a full and successful solution.

Let Me Know: How would you use the Miracle Question to make your project successful?  Do you think it could help your team break out of the Analysis Paralysis trap?

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