Change Management Lessons for a New Business

Last week Kathleen Barret and I attended the ACMP annual conference called 'Change Management 2014'. If you're interested in the details I take my notes in Twitter - so a search for "#ACMP2014 from:SCI_BA" will give you a feel for my experience. If you'd like the highlights - especially as they relate to getting started as a business - read on.

Most links have alt-text with additional information. Hover your mouse pointer over them to see the notes. If you're on a tablet you might be out of luck.

Lesson 1: Change Manager vs. Change Agent

Many Change Managers do not see themselves as Change Agents since their work does not include making the decision to change. They are primarily concerned with the people side of change, and will

  • investigate and manage an organization's capacity for change,
  • provide advice on how to make a change successful, and
  • manage the human side of change implementation.

Change Agents, then, drive the decision to change. In the case of business analysis, the first focus is on discovering and defining the most valuable future solution, and then on provoking a change to realize that solution.

Implications for MicroMarketplace business plans: As we seek out managers to get advice and advisors to give advice, we will find people who can do both - like many Change Managers. The structure of the market must serve these folks.

Lesson 2: Design Thinking

Requirements and designs are different points of view on the same thing, so it was no surprise that business analysis and design thinking are different points of view on the same profession. ("Design Thinking" is a much sexier name than "Business Analysis", but they're still the same thing.) Designers tend to focus more on 'making it real' than business analysts, so these sessions were very helpful. Two design thinking practices were especially useful to us.

  1. Gamification: Bringing the compelling and engaging mechanics of games into businesses. This is a fascinating, deep, and complex discipline, and particularly challenging to do this without turning the business into a game. Check out Matthew Carson (@HurdleMac) on Twitter for more.
  2. Visual Language: As a writer I tend to focus on the narrative of the organization. Powerful, simple visuals are an effective way to get attention, communicate quickly and clearly, and hold interest. For more on this find Gavin Wedell on Twitter or watch (volume up!) his insanely great training video on Change Management on YouTube.

Implications for MicroMarketplace business plans: From a gamification perspective, we had already included two of the six game mechanics: Levels and Leaderboards (more details will be shared in the weeks to come). Now we know how we'll include Badges and Points, and are figuring out how to best use Challenges and Rewards. In Gavin Wedell's session it became obvious that our service needs a clear, simple visual language to engage managers and advisors - not just reams of text. Maybe we'll have another 99Designs contest to figure it out - it worked great for our logo and font.

Lesson 3: Data Driven Decisions

Isaac Asimov was one of the most famous and most prolific science fiction authors. In his Foundation series a team of 'Psychohistorians' use mathematical models to predict the behaviours of civilizations with incredible accuracy. Ultimately, they use 'psychohistory' to actively direct those civilizations. What was once science fiction is quickly becoming science fact. It's not just that 'big data' can be used to predict election outcomes or consumer preferences. Now we are amassing evidence about conventional wisdom, human experience, and human behaviour - and discovering that who we are as a species is surprising and counterintuitive.

Implications for MicroMarketplace business plans: We're getting into the business of connecting managers to advisors - and more importantly, connecting managers to useful advice. Expertise and experience are a fine foundation for advice, but only if you can't work from evidence. This means MicroMarketplace has to find ways to get evidence-based advice to advisors and to managers. Our original business plans included a research program staffed by volunteer Citizen Scientists. Given the volume of excellent existing scientific research, this team will start out distilling existing research so managers can make better decisions. Their work will be based in the Organizational Systems Performance Model published in green paper from IIBA. They will start conducting research studies once the literature review teams are up and running.

In Summation

If you're interested in learning more on any of these topics, let us know. Our company email address is

Julian Sammy

A passion for business performance has driven Julian’s decades-long, evidence-based exploration of human behaviour, emerging technology, and information science. His insights are often surprising, and are shared in a provocative, engaging style in print and in person. Julian has delivered inspiring and informative keynotes, created and delivered many track sessions, and advised senior managers and executives from many industries. As the Head of Research and Innovation for IIBA, Julian led a global team of volunteer researchers in the creation of a scientifically testable theory of business performance. As a member of the Core Team developing the next version of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK® Guide) for IIBA, he drove the collaborative development of the Business Analysis Core Concept Model — a work that is so fundamental to the profession that it is the foundation for the new definition of the profession. In March 2014 Julian Sammy and Kathleen Barret co-founded MicroMarketplace, to get on-demand expert advice to managers, one hour at a time.