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Keldale Business Services Ltd

A Benefit is a result that someone thinks is worthwhile.

A while back I came up with five dumb questions behind every business change:

  • What does 'good' look like round here?
  • What's the point of this change?
  • Who is it really for?
  • What do they actually want?
  • What makes this option better than Plan B?

They are a good test of your intentions and will help you pick the right thing to do. There was something missing though. I didn't go far enough into leadership, so I've added another:
How do we get this done?

Once you've chosen a really good thing to do, how will you manage the business change so that it all turns out well?

First, a quick reminder of the original five questions.

What does 'good' look like round here?

This sets the scene. Understand your Vision, Mission, raison d'être, the things you must do and how you know when you are doing them well.

What's the point of this change?

The reasons why we make a change affect the way in which we go about making it. There should be a 'because' statement behind every objective, even if it's implicit, "We will do this because..."

Who is it really for?

Who are the appropriate stakeholders for your change? Who wants it? Who controls how it will happen? Who should receive the benefits? You may not be giving the customer what they want so much as giving the Marketing Department what they believe the customer wants. Who it's really for isn't as obvious as it looks at first sight.

What do they actually want?

A benefit is a result that a stakeholder perceives to be of value. So, having identified the right stakeholders, what do they perceive as being valuable? If their benefit is intangible, like "Empowered staff", what do they mean and how will they measure it?

What makes this option better than Plan B?

Why is this change the best use of your scarce resources? Unless you own your business, you're responsible for spending other people's money so you ought to spend it wisely.

How do we get this done?

I used to think that feasibility was part of this last test. If you couldn't do it efficiently and effectively then you didn't have the right option. I've now decided that feasibility needs more leadership and this has to be looked at separately. This brings me to question six, "How do we get this done?"

Up to this point, you've got something aspirational, a great idea in theory. So, let's spoil it all by dragging it back down to reality. "How do we get this done?" moves you on from design to implementation. It reminds you that the results ("What do they actually want?") will have to be managed in. It's not just the technology, it's the objectives and the benefits and all the business change needed to achieve them. Do you control the levers, how far does your influence extend?

You've found out who it's really for and what they actually want. What about all the others who will have to take part in delivering it? Will they do what's needed? Does everyone involved understand and agree where the boundaries of responsibility lie and who must do what? Have you made promises that aren't yours to keep?

These issues must be resolved before you can worry properly about the time and resources needed and start drawing up plans.

It's at this point that you can test your change against the other options and see if it's better than Plan B. My list of questions is now:

  • What does 'good' look like round here?
  • What's the point of this change?
  • Who is it really for?
  • What do they actually want?
  • How do we get this done?
  • What makes this option better than Plan B?

The original five will give you a great solution to do. The sixth will give you the confidence that you will actually deliver it.