How to Design and Lead a Dialogue for Change

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Simon Brown

This is a continuation of an HR transformation case study: read it here

How to design and lead interactive workshops to create a dialogue for change

To engage the whole HR community, we hosted workshops using WebEx, encouraging input, questions, and feedback from the audience to create an active platform and avoid re-inventing the wheel in each country or region. This approach is known as "open-source" change management communications versus traditional "top down". According to CEB research it is more effective in engaging the organization to make change happen. Here is how it worked:

  1. First, we thought of different questions to ask and different topics we wanted to get feedback on, multi-choice and open-ended. We made sure the content materials to share only took two-thirds of the allocated time on WebEx. This meant plenty of time to slow the pace, check for understanding and pause for questions. We asked questions directly to the audience over the phone, via interactive polls in the web conference tool, and via chat. The polls and chat-questions proved to be “easy” for the large group and had a much lower risk threshold than the phone.

  2. To build interactivity with the HR Community, we took the approach that change results from dialogue. In the words of Andy Warhol: “They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” We introduced the practical use of these principles as part of the change management process.

  3. The one-page guide summarizes these six principles and can be converted to a poster, mouse mat, or desk reminder.

  4. This was followed by an in-depth focus on the first two principles which are key drivers (Promote and Focus), sharing examples and more concrete ways for the audience to fully embrace the content.

Finally: Transferring learning into the workplace

At the end of the workshop we asked for volunteers from the HR community to bring these guiding principles into their country or region, and to share feedback with us. To follow up we organized conference calls with this newly enthusiastic group of volunteers.

Some examples of the follow-up actions the HR teams have taken in using the six guiding principles are:

  • Hosting meetings with local employee representation or so-called business ‘change champions’ to share the principles and actively brainstorm how to use them for the respective country.

  • Regular meetings with the management team to discuss one principle in more detail each meeting, relating it to a current specific business agenda topic.

  • Sharing information and news about the HR transformation and the guiding principles on the internal social network (yammer) to generate conversations, and action tips and support and encouragement.

  • Printing the six guiding principles to use as a wall and desk poster in the office.



The workshop provided a successful way to engage all of the HR Community and definitely contributed to accelerate the overall change management process within our HR transformation programme.


Sanne Chateau
HR Expert
Ana Catalina
Transformation Consultant