Change Management Canvases: The hidden power of the Story Telling Canvas

Written by , in category Agile & Scrum

14 March 2018

When teaching a Lean Change Management class, we usually let the attendees choose which of the proposed Lean Change Canvases they want to work on as a group, or several groups when the class is a bit bigger. I noticed the Story Telling Canvas was often left out, and when I asked the attendees why, they often mentioned things like: “It doesn’t seem to be as impactful as the others.”, or “It’s unclear to me how to work with this.”.

During the last class, we changed our way of working and specifically guided the attendees in using the different canvases and debrief on what the strength and weakness of each canvas was. The Story Telling Canvas turned out to be the only one who got featured on the training “AHA-Wall” as having brought an AHA-moment to someone.

And here’s why.

The Story Telling Canvas

Level of usage: team level

The Story Telling canvas is specifically designed for your teams, to help them think of their role in the change that has been envisioned for the organisation. It helps create a narrative in which the team members can identify their place, role and future actions in order to create more ownership of their part in the change, to feel their importance in the process and to be able to create a follow-up of actions for both the team as well as the influencing elements on the team.

When to use: for teams and individuals.

Especially when the individuals in the team have had a rather long career with the changing organisation, this canvas creates room to discuss the past, reminisce the about the good and the bad, create the opening for taking ownership of part of the change at hand. The teams and individuals can experience that what they did in the past wasn’t bad, and that we’re not changing for the sake of changing: we are looking for improvements on those parts of the past organisation that were not working well enough, and how we can change towards the future in order to achieve new goals, visions and an overall better ownership and “feel good” environment for your change.

Pitfall: VISION!

If you cannot describe the vision for the change to your teams in a way that fits with this kind of canvas, you might want to re-think the vision. Change without vision is doomed to not get any broad ownership, without ownership on all levels of the organisation, change quickly becomes an ordeal to go through and the overall timings to achieve certain goals usually becomes a lot longer than you can afford…

So how do you fill it in?

The story is told from the point of view of the team. They reminische about the past, what was good, how things worked, why they liked some things. It’s important to start with the positive and make sure the team doesn’t feel like they were doing things “wrong”. Let them write the most important things on post-its and create their memories on the canvas. 

But then things changed, and doing these things became hard. Something is off and we don’t really know why, but we know what feels wrong, takes a lot more effort than it used to, seems like we’re doing things for no reason whatsoever. And this change in effort has an impact…

Because of things going wrong or being more difficult, things are already changing: maybe you lost customers to the competition, or morale in the team is at an all time low, people are having long discussions with not results… let people write it all down and visualise it on the canvas.

Enters your change vision: it’s to answer all of these problems that a change is proposed! And for the team, this is the part of the change they need to focus on in order to make life better again.

We ask the team what they are willing to commit to in order to support this change. Of course they will need help from other people within the organisation (change management, their own management, HR, coaches), so the canvas invites them to voice these needs. And sometimes, the team can immediately identify some quick wins, so be sure to create space for these and recognize any effort that has gone into those. It might be half the distance you need to cover once you have these listed up!

Extra tips:

  • draw the canvas on a wall, so there is ample space for all the items,
  • complete it with a simple kanban board to visualise progress of the action points
  • come to the next Lean Change Management course to become a certified Lean Change Agent! (in Belgium or the Netherlands)

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