Episode #28

Rethinking Project Scope: Expanding Attention to All Priorities

with Dr. Linda Ackerman Anderson

While every major change effort has a defined scope, most are incomplete and often need to be expanded to achieve desired outcomes. This episode highlights the areas required to define a full scope, one that ensures better outcomes and influences the initial definition of project budget and timeline. Scope needs to focus on the content of the change as well as the human and cultural dynamics required to achieve and sustain outcomes. These dynamics are not afterthoughts. Come hear how to rethink your definition and process for accurately scoping your projects.


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Welcome to Ask Dr. Change. I’m Dr. Linda Ackerman Anderson. I’m happy to have you join me today to explore how to seriously up level your leadership and consulting to transformational changes all through conscious change leadership.

Welcome. Today’s topic is about rethinking Project Scope. We’re needing to expand all of the factors that need to go into scope. I have a question that’s come in about this.

It says we never get to live with the scope of change defined at startup. It never sets up what’s required for actual stakeholder adoption. Powerful question and it really positions today’s topic about rethinking how we address scope. What’s in it?

Who does it and what influence does it have on the projects we’re leading? So every change project has a defined scope. Its initiatives in the areas of the organization that need to be addressed or changed in order to achieve the desired outcomes of the project. Now, large and transformational changes, however, frequently experienced challenges to scope like scope creep, inadequate attention to paid to the human and cultural dynamics, all of which are required to achieve and sustain results.

When we don’t name all of the aspects of scope early in the project, it’s impossible to get an accurate budget and timeline, since scope directly influences our estimations of budget and timeline. We need a full scope to be addressed to get all three really accurate to what’s required. You know, inevitably and typically content experts or project management experts define the scope, budget and timeline. However, they are only focusing usually just on the content solution, the one that needs to be designed and deployed in the project.

Whether that structure business process, a new service line, new product I.T. You know, any of the content solutions that are the heart of our projects, content is what they see. That’s the world they live in. It’s appropriate and essential because it is at the heart of scope. But here’s the kicker.

More is needed in order to get those content solutions into place. Adopted. Sustained. Course corrected over time.

We need more than content in scope. So consider this. Who actually does understand and see and is in a position to legitimately add and name the human dynamics required inside of scope like mindset, culture, relationships, behavior. Who’s in a position to actually understand and see those and could frame them into initiatives within scope or ensure they’re addressing of the content aspects of scope really take into account the human dynamics.

So do you have people in your organization skilled in seeing and naming and crafting the human dynamics? Are these people asked in to determined scope? Are they able to partner with your content experts to determine the human aspects of scope? That’s what’s really required here.

How do we get all of it into play? So my intention today is to outline all of these areas that we must account for when we’re first defining scope at the very beginning of a project. And then I want to talk a little bit about the process for determining and approving scope. I want to explore with you why the areas I’m going to talk about are so essential to determining an accurate budget timeline, actions that have to be taken and oversight of the project so that you have a successful outcome.

My call to action to you today is to invite you to consider how do you currently determine scope? Who does it? How is it used to influence the determination of budget or schedule or the action plan for the project? Then I want you to think about how you currently use scope.

What decisions does it drive? How is it seen as a part of the launch of the project? And then compare what you currently do with what I’m going to share with you today. the bottom line of all of this is scope is determined by what we see.

Inevitably, content is at the heart of it. And then we need to expand What else is being influenced by that content. The potential solution so that we take into account the work required to ensure the solution is actually put in place, adopted and sustained. To get a full view of what we need to attend to.

We use a powerful and comprehensive model called the Conscious Change Leader Accountability Model. For those of you visually seeing this podcast, you can see this on screen. For those of you just listening to the auditory version, I will describe this. The Conscious Change Leader accountability model is a cube.

So on the front face of the cube are four quadrants. The left hand column of these quadrants refer to what’s internal to people, what’s going on inside of us. The right hand quadrants are external, what we can actually observe. Both are required to be considered in scope.

The top two quadrants address what occurs for individuals. And the bottom two quadrants address the collective what we collectively do together. So the top left quadrant we call mindset. This is what we think, what we value, the assumptions we make, the expectations we have, the worldviews.

We have the filters on the world. If we don’t acknowledge the impact of mindset in both leaders and stakeholders, we’ll never get them to take on change and to make the change stick. Some examples of the power of mindset. You may hear some of your stakeholders or your managers or leaders saying things like The way I have always done things is just fine.

It has always worked or I know best or we don’t talk to those people. You know, what are the foundations of the resistance that are true to persons or stakeholders mindset? What’s going on in their worldview as to whether or not they would support a change or resist a change? If we can’t find ways to address, make visible, make conscious mindset and then be able to change it, we’ll never get the change to occur.

The top right quadrant is called behavior. This is what we do, how we act, how we plan. If we don’t support people to take on the required behaviors of the new state and change the way they do things, we’ll never get the change to take place. It’ll never stick.

Again, Examples. I only talk to my trusted peers. I don’t talk to other people or I have done this so long. I have my own ways of doing it.

Leave me alone. You know how we communicate, How we make decisions. These are all behaviors that need to be considered as we think about what’s going to be required for our content solution to actually take hold. The bottom left quadrant is what we call culture.

Now we know the impact of culture. How we interact, our norms, our ways of relating, how we typically do things, how we operate as teams. If we don’t address culture, the old state will persist. Culture has that amount of magnetism to keep the old state in place.

Examples of culture we protect our own. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done. We they are in our inner circle. Or what you’re asking me to do is not my job.

Now, you know, in someone else’s job, I only do what’s expected of me. And so you can probably hear in each of these there are mindsets that drive culture at the collective, at the organization level. And so the cultural indicators that are keeping the old state in place need to be identified, named and altered as a part of scope. The bottom right hand quadrant is systems.

Now, this is a word that means a lot of different things. It’s the content of the change. It could be systems, processes, services, I.T. products, procedures, policies, business models, strategy. You know, the systems quadrant encompasses so many of the content elements of change, and it’s the one that gets the most attention.

This is what leaders relate to. Managers relate to the most in scope, and is typically at the heart of scope. All of this mindset, behavior, culture and systems is at play all the time. We’ll talk a little bit more about that shortly.

But different aspect, different quadrants are particularly important in scope at different levels of the system. So where does change in the system have to take place? Where does it have to happen? It could be you require special action or special support for individuals, for relationships, for teams, for departments, for the organization itself, for the marketplace or the customer.

Your scope really needs to pinpoint where action needs to happen in order to get the project into place. the top panel of the cube is about the change process, how to plan to address everything we have surface that needs to be changed. That’s all a part of scope. So how do we plan the actions?

How do we create the project plan? How early in the change process can we identify what’s in scope and what needs to happen to address scope? So we include actions around mindset and culture really important early in the process. It’s not a tag on, it’s not.

Mindset and culture are not bold. Tons at the end. They really are an essential part of the change process early on. So how do you design the change process?

So we attend to all four quadrants at levels of the system that are impacted. To do that, we use the Change Leader’s Roadmap methodology to ensure attention to all of it. And there are other episodes that I’ve covered the Change Leaders Road Roadmap methodology in some depth, so I would encourage you to go look for that, to understand the full nine phases from launch all the way through the sustainment of business benefits. Now, I want to say in terms of more about scope, scope is determined by what we see.

And so that’s why the conscious change leader accountability model is so important to broaden, to take off the blinders, to broaden what it is that we’re looking for. So I would ask you now to consider how do you typically determine scope? What do you see? What do you look for?

How much of the accountability model do you assess at launch and include in scope? That requires some reflection time on your part and perhaps some conversation time back with your project teams? Do you think through the actions and resources needed to address all the elements that you’ve identified in scope? How might you expand your project scope to address all that’s needed?

And if you change leaders don’t see your value, what you now see in terms of the four quadrants and levels of the system, how can you effect them? How can you reach them? How can you alter your process to get them to recognize the importance of including for quadrants and levels of system and how the project is being planned? An important aspect to keep in mind here is how can you name what’s at risk of not including all four quadrant s of what’s really required?

You might you be experiencing stakeholder resistance. Poor adoption delays reduce cultural backlash cost overruns. Any of these things are easy to surface as reasons to expand scope. From the very beginning of the change effort.

I want to share with you two exercises that we use to help influence how we define scope. again, there’s a lot here for you to consider as I go through this. The first exercise is what we call the drivers of change. It’s typically explored in determining the case for change at the very beginning of a project.

The second exercise is called Initial Impact Analysis. It’s a simple but very powerful exercise to indicate the impacts the project will have that will require attention during the process and therefore need to be included in scope. I’ll mention to you here and I’ll mention it again the initial impact analysis worksheet that we use is available for download on the Ask Dr. Change website, so I encourage you to go to the website.

You’ll be able to download the initial Impact Analysis worksheet for that second exercise. I want to start with the drivers of change. However, to do so, consider an actual project that you’re working on or recently have worked on so you can think through the various drivers that I’m about to share with you. What’s at play?

The drivers determine what’s at play, driving the need for your project and are essential to achieving its desired outcomes. What has to change as a result of pursuing this outcome? Now what has to change is scope. And so the drivers of change are a whole series of, I would call it sequential.

They’re rather iterative. We start with environmental forces. What’s occurring out there in the world outside of the organization or community that’s influencing potentially the need for this project? It could be economics, it could be social unrest, it could be technology that’s coming into play.

It could be regulatory changes or political changes. What are the things that are going on outside of the organization that are prompting the need for this project? Often those environmental forces, then the second driver, will shape marketplace requirements for success, which is really what your customers are asking for. So what are your customers asking for in relation to what they need?

Is it a faster product, a more customized product, a cheaper product, a closer relationship with you? One stop shop. There are all kinds of customer needs that may be at cause for your project. Your customer needs then drive business imperatives.

This basically is strategically, how does the organization need to adjust, adapt to its new marketplace, to its new environment? This is really change strategy. It’s business strategy, it’s directions, clear directions, guidance for the future. These are your business imperatives.

Again, it could be cost effectiveness. It could be going green, it could be going online, electronic marketplace. Any of these things might be your business imperatives. They then drive.

The fourth driver is the organizational imperatives. This is the content quadrant. What about the organization has to change Structure, systems, processes, i.t, headcount, you know, skills, capabilities, technology.

What about the organization itself needs to change. This is where scope typically lives. This is your content. However, organizational imperatives are dependent upon the culture adapting itself to be able to fulfill those organizational changes.

So what are the cultural imperatives for your project? What has to be different in how we do things, how we relate, how we work in teams, what our norms are, what we value? How does that need to be different? This isn’t just the identification of the current culture.

In fact, it’s. What about the current culture needs to change? These are your cultural imperatives for change. Now, realistically, cultural imperatives drive, behave here.

So how do the leaders need to behave differently? How do your employees or stakeholders need to behave differently? This is the behavior Quadrant two separate conversations. Leaders and stakeholders are employees in terms of how they need to behave, act, relate differently.

Now, behavior doesn’t change unless we get to mindset. This is the mindset quadrant and so leadership mindset, stakeholder or employee mindset. How do our mindsets need to be different for this project to actually be adopted and sustain over time? And so from environment to marketplace to business imperatives, strategy, organizational imperatives, culture, behavior and mindset, all of this potentially influences what goes into your scope.

All of this is identifying what needs to change as a result of carrying out the project or the transformation that you’re overseeing. So having conversations with your project team, with your sponsor, with the change leaders to talk through each of the drivers of change as it relates to the project in advance of defining and approving of a predetermined scope. This is a way of inputting to your thinking about scope. The drivers of change early in the process as possible.

The second exercise is the initial impact analysis. There are two categories of impacts that we’re considering here. The formal organizational elements that we can see and observe and get our hands on and redesign. And then the human and cultural impacts of the project.

And so this is the worksheet that you can download from Ask Dr. Change the website. And it’s a lengthy worksheet. However, it’s a series of checkmarks.

Think about your project. What will directly or indirectly be impacted by carrying out this project? I’m going to give you name several, but they’re not all of what potentially may be impacted by your project. Is business strategy impacted customer interfaces, structure management systems or processes?

Technology Product lines are services, workflow union relationships, h.R. Policies and systems, space, geography. Again, you get the idea. The list goes on around the formal content elements of your project. What of any of these things are going to be affected by carrying out the project and therefore need to be considered as a part of scope in terms of the human and cultural impacts.

Consider these things Rewards. Are we incentivizing the right behavior, competencies and skills? Do we have the right competencies in place? Fears anger that will be triggered by the project.

How we’re going to deal with that. Employee agreements values, norms, the quality of relationships, leadership style. The executive alignment degree of employee engagement, training requirements, team effectiveness, the degree of attachment or entrenchment to the old ways of operating. Again, the list goes on here, and so I encourage you to get the worksheet to be able to apply it to your project and any of these items that you check off.

The impact may be small, it might be massive. Any of the checkmarks that you create actually need consideration in your scope because you will need to address them as a part of your change strategy and your project plan. So initial impact analysis is very useful to do this individually and then share thoughts among the team with the sponsor to be able to expand and redefine what your scope needs to include. So I want to talk a little bit about the process to define your scope and reevaluate your existing scope.

Consider again how you typically determine scope, who does it, how is it crafted, how is it used. Now consider engaging the right people to define scope your content experts and people who may be skilled in the other three quadrants of culture mindset, art and behavior. Maybe as your change management people, your culture related people, your O.D. people. h.R. Who are the folks that see and understand the human dynamics.

They’re important to consider in the first determination of scope. Then together, i would bring those folks together in complete the two exercises, the drivers of change and the initial impact analysis from all of that, you would need to identify the actual initiatives, projects or sub projects, and for each one discuss the human requirements of achieving each one’s outcomes. What additional human or cultural initiatives might be required and can be planned in partnership with the content initiatives. Also, consider the levels of the organization to be targeted as well.

Now, I frequently will see that there’ll be a culture initiative run in silo in parallel to content initiatives. As long as the culture initiatives is set up as a matrix cutting across all your content initiatives. Now I’m talking governance here, but that’s an essential and important way of setting up and looking into the cultural requirements of each of the scopes of each of your content projects. Because culture will play out in every single one of them.

And then collectively with the same group of people, discuss actions and timing for each initiative, explore the implications for budget and timeline. Again, it’s a result of your full scope. And so what you’re after here is making sure you have an adequate full scope and then can talk through budget and timeline requirements if you have an existing scope. I go through the same process to reevaluate your current scope and really think through the requirements of what has to be attended to.

Do we have budget for it? What’s the timeline for it? And obviously you’ll need to engage your change leaders and project managers to be able to do this work. And so the whole preliminary strategy of how do you get their attention, what’s at risk of not doing this work, that’s important as a set up to be able to go through this process.

So a lot here. I’ve talked about a lot of different steps for you to rethink how you go about addressing scope. Is it fall? Does it address the other three quadrants of mindset, behavior and culture beyond the content?

All four are necessary. Now, I always promise you a pro tip. My pro tip for today is think four quadrants, always mindset culture, behavior and content. The systems quadrant.

These lenses will help you see all that needs attention in your projects. Plan your change process to account for how to address all four quadrants. The impacts within all four quadrants really essential. So for me, I have the four quadrants imagined in front of my eyes, always so I’m always looking at them.

Now the personal reflection is a unique piece of seeing the four quadrants at all times. Among the four quadrants, which is your most familiar and most comfortable. This is your preferred way of seeing as you engage in change. For me, it’s behavior I’m always about.

And so what? What’s the action? What do we do? How do we handle this? That’s the behavior orientation.

Dean, my partner, his is mindset. How are people thinking about this? What is their worldview? What filters are they putting on what they’re seeing?

Any of the four quadrants, None is better or worse than others. What we’re after here is you to know your own so you can imagine the value that your preferred quadrant brings to how you lead change. That’s important. Your quadrant brings value, and in like mind, reflect on the other three quadrants that are not your preferred but also at play.

What value do they bring? How would they influence your scope and your approach to leading change? How would your work be expanded and strengthened by addressing all four quadrants? They are always at play.

Keep that in mind. They are always at play and so you’re being attuned to them, being able to recognize them and work with them as you define your scope and lead your changes. Absolutely essential to strengthening your impact. Thanks for your time today.

I hope you found some value in rethinking scope. I appreciate you being here with me. Today’s subject is one of the key topics that we feature in our leading transformational change online program. If you’d like to learn more about leading transformation social change, go to beingfirst.com/LTC.

Thanks for spending some time with me today. I hope you gain some valuable insights for your work. Please send me your questions and challenges by going to askdrchange.com.


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