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Three questions that give change the best start in life

Is your team giving organisational change the best start in life? Here are three questions you can ask to ensure that you engage in the right change and it takes your team down the right path, from the very beginning.

A baby's development doesn't start when it enters the world. In fact, it's well documented that the health, size and overall condition of a baby when it's born is influenced by what happens in the preceding months.

Many aspects of a new born's health are predetermined by genetics and other biological factors. Others however, are influenced by external factors like the environment, what the mother eats, drinks and how she behaves. Many women know this and adjust their behaviour and make certain decisions to maximise the chances of having a healthy baby.

So what does this have to do with change?

In business, we frequently think of change as starting when it enters a process. It might be a business case process or a sentence or two written in a strategic plan. However, the reality is that most changes start well before this, often taking the form of as a simple idea or an insight. Further, just like the development of a baby before it's born, our behaviour as leaders in the time between the 'embryonic idea' forming and it being formally recognised as a change worth pursuing, determines whether it will succeed or fail. That's because it's during this delicate (often under-estimated) period of time that the change is being formed and shaped. Expectations are being established and most importantly, the path that the change is expected to follow, starts to be defined.

Three questions need to be answered, while the change is still in its embryonic stage.

  • Why is this change needed?

  • What value will it create?

  • What customer problem is this change promising to solve?

More importantly, the answers need to be agreed by the leadership team so that everyone is aligned from the beginning.

On the surface, they certainly sound simple enough. However, in my experience these questions are frequently overlooked, as leaders find more comfort in solutions that the uncertainty that accompanies unanswered questions.

Unfortunately, entering any formal change process without your team having clear and aligned answers to these three questions, is like waiting until a baby's born to start thinking about its health. By that time, the path has already been set and sadly, in some cases, the damage has already been done.

Take a moment to reflect on your team. How many of the changes that are currently underway, had clearly answered these questions before they became business cases or projects? How consistent were the answers of each leader within the team? Where these questions weren't answered, how difficult have those changes been to implement? How smoothly have they run compared to examples in which everyone had the same expectations from the start.

Some thoughts to consider...

I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences. Thank you for reading and please remember to share this article with others who may find it valuable.


Kate Christiansen is a facilitator, mentor, award-winning author and keynote speaker. She works with leadership teams who have reached an inflection point and need to set a new direction. Kate helps her clients to understand their unique moment of opportunity, define the new path that will create maximum value, then spark positive change, that's powered by the passion of people.


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