Foundation for Change

The F.P.I.E. process (pronounced ‘eff pye’) underpins The Change Consultancy’s approach to change projects. F.P.I.E. draws heavily on our collective experience; in particular, it taps into project management and business psychology practice. As a consequence we can offer substantial experience in consulting on organisation change projects from start to finish. It all starts with Foundation for Change.


# 1 Foundation
Change (F)
# 1 Sponsors’ Change Goals
# 2 Stakeholders’ Change Goals
# 3 Set or Review Objectives
Portfolio of (people-focused) change development modules. Group and individual delivery.

“A perfection of means, and a confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.”
Albert Einstein

Step One : Sponsors’ Change Goals

The Foundation for Change stage is principally focused on generating realistic goals for the change project. It recognises that the development of change goals is a political process. Therefore, obtaining a clear understanding of sponsors’ requirements is crucial to understanding the goals, origin and resourcing of the change project.

The role of the sponsor is very similar to that of the ‘Economic Buying Influence’ as described in The New Strategic Selling by Miller and Heiman. Only the Economic Buying Influence can say ‘yes’ to a complex sale. While other buying influences can say ‘no’, only the economic buying influence can say the ‘no’ that summarily dismisses to a complex sale.

Likewise, sponsors are powerful influences in setting up a change project for success, particularly in providing secure funding. It is a wise move to consult them on their requirements, particularly if there are multiple sponsors involved. It would be unwise to ignore sponsors, perhaps mistakenly assuming that the goals of the change project are clear and well-understood by all concerned.

Step Two : Stakeholders’ Change Goals

Depending upon the size of the change project, there could be few stakeholders or there could be many. Irrespective, it is important to identify the impact of the proposed change on stakeholders and their likely reaction to it. Clarity is essential on stakeholders’ level of interest and power to support or resist the proposed change, which could have profound implications for the project timeline.

Stakeholders’ Change Goals:
The Power/Interest Matrix

Level of Interest

LowMinimal EffortKeep Informed
HighKeep SatisfiedKey Players

Interest : Stakeholders have an interest in impressing their expectations on the purposes and choices of change goals

Power : Stakeholders have the authority and the means to do so

This matrix can be found in Exploring Corporate Strategy by Gerry Johnson, Kevan Scholes and Richard Whittington. It was my good fortune to work with Kevan Scholes with a client. He agreed that developing change goals, particularly in complex change, is a political process. On the page the Power Interest Matrix can look sterile, but brought to life and applied to a client’s specific circumstances it was manifestly a powerful tool. An important lesson learned was that not all stakeholders have the same ‘voice’ in a change project and influencing tactics must reflect this.

Discussion: Do you agree that Steps #1 and #2 are political in nature? How logical (versus non-logical) are the discussions and eventual decisions in your experience? What advice do you give to less experienced colleagues?

Step Three : Set or Review Objectives

All of the information gathered can then be converted into an objectives tree for the change project. Objectives are expressed in the SMART format. If this feels like change with a hard edge or change with a Vulcan-like logic, you are correct. It is difficult to see a firm base being laid for a change project without these steps. Even though we know that action plans based on the objectives tree frequently experience unforseen circumstances in their first brush with reality, clear objectives help people to remain flexible, yet sure and steadfast in their pursuit.

Objectives Tree : Example

Change was afoot at at a nationally-famous frozen food manufacturer in the Nort East. Among other things, the introduction of group leaders, groupworking and annualised hours were change goals. The change team comprised the economic buying influence (factory manager), user buying influences (engineering, QA and production/shift managers) and technical buying influences (HR manager and HRD manager).

My primary role was to design, write and train/lead the change team in an assessment and selection process to identify group leaders form an internal pool of candidates, including existing senior supervisors and supervisors. A major output was a comprehensive selection and development report for each participant.

I met the change team regularly to establish objectives, particularly to synchronise my activities with the other parts of the change project. We spoke a lot about communication and getting the message across to everyone affected by the changes, in reality to 1,500 people. A colleague lead the production of formal communications material and I advised on informal communication.

What emerged was a tightly correographed commnuication plan designed to formally increase the understanding of all participants, so that rational choices could be made, and to informally reduce resistance principally through a ‘structured informality’ programme. None of this would have been possible were it not for the sponsor’s and the change team’s unwavering commitment, accurate stakeholder analysis and the setting of sound objectives by the change team.

Discussion: In your experience how often is their reference back to the objectives set for a change project? What issues have you encountered with setting or reviewing objectives?

What of the soft aspects of change, i.e. those most often associated with people?

The Change Consultancy knows that it must address this matter. We have concluded that every stage and every step of F.P.I.E. require hard and soft techniques in their toolbox. Though not yet complete, the table below indicates our direction of travel.

Stage # 1 : Foundation for Change Toolbox
Steps#1 Sponsor’s Change Goals#2 Stakeholders’ Change Goals#3 Set or Review Objectives
Hard Techniques
  • Force Field Diagram
  • Scope Document
  • SMART Objectives
  • Objectives Tree
  • List of Constraints
Soft Techniques
  • Change :
    – Fast/Slow
  • OD Matrix (Issues)
  • Stakeholder Mapping
    Tactical Change Continuum (Diagnosing Resistance)

Discussion: Does the hard/soft distinction aid your thinking on change? We invite you to add to the toolbox, which will be updated and shared with readers of Interactive.

Portfoilio of Change/People-Focussed Development Modules

“The ablest man I ever met is the one you think you are.” Franklin D Roosevelt
The Change Consultancy recognises that Foundation for Change must also offer the necessary (people) knowledge and skills to lead a change project. Our friends at the Association for Project Management have made it abundantly clear to us that the effective application of softer (people) skills is not as widespread as they would wish. Although a large majority of projects succeed, those that are less successful do appear to harbour people or team issues at their core. See Conditions for Project Success, APM Research Report, June 2015.

Hence, under Foundation for Change, The Change Consultancy has designed and offers a series of short, change-oriented, people modules for group or individual delivery. These are for clients who wish their change project leaders and team members to build up a portfolio of knowledge and skills on topics such as: assertiveness, communication, conflict management, leadership style, motivation, networking, team development. Motivation is offered as an example.

Motivation Workshop : Half Day
Everyone appreciates that the motivation of others is an important component of leadership and performance.

Unfortunately it is often not well understood.

Towards the end of a motivation session the ops director of a cluster of manufacturing sites said, ‘”We spent £400k on empowerment training. It didn’t work. Now I know why.”

Thanks to our good friends at MTS we can shine a light on motivation via the Work Interests Schedule (WIS), devised by Emeritus Professor John Hunt, former Dean of London Business School.Initially, participants complete the WIS questionnaire online and receive their profile in return. Experience tells us that participants welcome understanding the insights offered in an interactive manner.

We systematically build understanding of the participant’s profile using the six major goals of motivation set against 30 years of data gathered by the Professor.

This is supported by a number of activities that progressively move from understanding of the participant’s own WIS profile, to using the six goals to profile and coach others with the aim of enhancing their performance.

Discussion : We believe that the effective motivation of others is not effectively practiced. What is your take on the matter? Do you agree with the list of topics we have identified? In practice, what do you find are the principal change/people issues requiring development input?


Occasionally, organisations whether expanding SMEs, new divisions or overhauled departments of larger entities, require a process that embraces the whole group, not just part of the whole. For example, enhancing employee engagement and commitment may be an explicit requirement of the organisation change project. In such circumstances, a Foundation for Change process that we have brandedTribe™ could come into play.

A three stage process, Tribe™ starts with Directing Our Tribe, then moves to Connecting Our Tribe, with Supercharging Our Tribe completing the process. Interactive #3 has more information on the process and Directing Our Tribe stage of Tribe™.

Interactive builds The Change Consultancy’s library of articles about organisation change. It is edited by Tom Lindsay who is also a major contributor. Our heading of Interactive is a deliberate choice, because The Change Consultancy is keen to engage with its audience. Each article contains Discussion points. If you wish to comment, then we cordially invite you to get in touch with Tom at

Tom Lindsay is a graduate Chartered Psychologist and MBA specialising in business psychology. In the 1990s he was a part-time Course Tutor of Planning & Managing Change for the North East Region of the Open University’s Business School. Prior to this he held personnel positions in blue chips and the NHS. For the past twenty eight years he has been a consultant concentrating on the people aspects of change. He is a director of The Change Consultancy.