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Craft a Human-Centered Change Statement with These 4 Tips

What do you want to change? Even if you know in your bones that change in your organization or your network is desperately needed, it can be hard to put into words what it is exactly that needs to shift and why. Defining this change and the desired outcome you seek is the first step toward building a plan that will deliver lasting change. Bryan Walker, an IDEO partner and head of the Design for Change studio, says that before embarking on a change journey, you need to write a change statement to guide your work. Use this template from our Designing for Change online course to craft your statement, and follow Bryan’s advice to make it actionable and effective.

Focus on the human need

Reflect on the benefits that will arise from making a change. How will this impact the people you are trying to help? Your desired outcome should be based on human needs.

Rightsize your statement

Your statement may start out big and lofty, or it might feel small and tactical. The trick is finding a middle ground.

If you start out too broad, for example “I want to change my company culture in order to have more engaged employees,” ask questions to drill down. What aspects of the culture do you want to change? What are the components of employee engagement? What are some of the fundamental needs or behaviors you want to see more of? This line of questioning might lead you to a more tangible statement like “I want to change our fear of failure in order to have more employees stretching and learning through their work.”

Don’t embed a solution

Realize that you may hold assumptions about solutions when writing your statement. Those assumptions can limit you from getting to the root cause of the issue. Leave room to explore multiple solutions by leveling your statement up.

For example, if you start with “I want to change our employee break policy in order to be 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes,” ask yourself why. Is changing the employee break time really the right intervention? You may discover that what you really want to impact is your employees’ ability to find work/life balance. A better change statement would be “I want to change the employee experience in order to help people better balance their work and life.”

Prototype and keep iterating

“One of the secrets to writing a good change statement is to write a lot of them,” Bryan says. It’s unlikely you’ll get it right the first time. Test out several versions, gather feedback from trusted advisors, and plan to evolve your statement as you learn more about the needs of your community.


Get more tips on crafting your change statement and impacting change through movements, not mandates, in our 5-week online course Designing for Change.

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