Creating change in human systems such as teams and organizations is a matter of developing a critical mass of support for the change goal. Of course, developing that critical mass may involve working through whatever resistances there are and resolving the conflicts that are encountered. Regardless, that critical mass rarely calls for even a majority of its members. The key is to identify and garner the support of those who have the responsibility for the goal’s acceptance, implementation, and use.
System mapping can help identify that group of influential people. It calls for recruiting the help of two or three colleagues (system maps created by single individuals are rarely complete enough to be useful) who will ask questions and provide insights to support the process outlined below. Be disciplined about this process to maximize the success of any change project!
- Craft a change goal as an outcome statement for the project. This can take considerable time even with the help of those you are working with. Accuracy at this beginning step sets the stage for the success of the entire mapping process.
- Map the system fully by name and position to identify those who have responsibility for the acceptance, implementation, and use of the project.
- Circle those whose buy-in will get you to a critical mass of support the easiest and quickest. Circle individuals or groups of individuals.
- Prioritize those who have been circled in order of importance and degree of influence with others.
- Identify who would be the most appropriate project leader. If other than yourself, what are your concerns about contracting with the person identified to be the project leader? Don’t forget to contract for human systems behaviors as well as task issues.
- Identify how and when will the project leader contract with the other high priority individuals for their buy-in and active support. What are your concerns about contracting with them for relationship behaviors as well as task issues?
- Identify how and when the project leader and the high priority individuals will meet as a group to decide who and how to gather others needed to create a critical mass of support. Meeting as a group is important. Systemic change happens only when aligned individuals work together to create what none could have created alone and solve problems that none could solve alone.
- Identify the folks you need in your personal support system who will help you carry out this process effectively.
- Identify what your will be your next step.
You’re all set to build the support for your goal to critical mass! Bon voyage!