Planning – Part 2

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. We now look at generatiing options, and selecting and constructing a plan for the preferred option(s) for change.

“Piss poor planning promotes piss poor performance” British Army

# 2 Planning (P)# 4 Identify & Select Issues or Problems
# 5 Analyse Issues or Problems
# 6 Generate Options for Change
# 7 Select & Plan the Preferred Option for Change

#6 Generate Options for Change

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Albert Einstein

A comprehensive objectives tree is a springboard to the generation of options for change. As broader objectives become more specific, the options for change naturally slim down to a few. Options practically suggest themselves.

If not, an ideas generation group can conjure up options. We are constantly amazed at the brainpower that resides within organisations. Indeed, when focused and released, organisations can benefit enormously from the ideas that emerge, whether from groups or individuals. One such example is given below.

In the mid-80s, as a senior personnel officer with a large pharmaceutical company, I assumed the chair of the Suggestion Committee. Most suggestions were minor in scale, often attracting fixed awards of less than £100.

However, the highest amount ever awarded was in an altogether different league. If, after a trial, and a department head agreed, the author of a suggestion could be awarded 10% of savings in the first full year of application of the suggestion. One department had an issue with sterile bottles falling down and creating time-consuming stoppages, at a juncture when demand was surging for its products.

The suggestion, which came from a production worker caused quite a stir. Her suggestion – in keeping with Einstein’s ‘make it simple, but no simpler’ aphorism – suggested that a device called a plough, be fitted to the conveyers of the bottling machines. She commented that watching a field being ploughed by a tractor gave her the idea. In trials and full production, the device worked very well. Everyone agreed that an award should be made, which Finance calculated to be £100,000 of savings in the first year of application, thus triggering a £10,000 award. Understandably, the cheque was handed over in the full glare of company and local publicity.

In addition, there is definitely something to be said for benchmarking. In its simplest form, representatives of one company comtemplating a similar change, visit a willing exemplar organisation. This organisation need not be in the same sector since the exercise is about triggering ideas that might be applied to the visiting company’s operations.

In the mid-80s, as a senior personnel officer with a large pharmaceutical company, accompanied by the engineering manager, we visited just such an exemplar a mere sixteen miles away. At the time we were interested in learning about how engineering activities were structured. We returned with a treasure trove of ideas that went beyond a looksee at engineering, which we successfully presented to the SMT. The next four years ended up being a whirlwind of organisation change with many of these benchmarked ideas at its core.

#7 Select & Plan the Preferred Option for Change

“The map is not the territory.” British Army

We toyed with the idea of placing this step in stage three, Implementation, but decided not to, reasoning that Implementation has its own special issues and problems.

It is worth reiterating that in complex change there could be a number of change streams each requiring its own line of enquiry and dedicated resources. Each stream has to address the same requirements: cost quality and time, constraints, risks, benefits. Eventually, hard on the heels of an evaluation of the preferred option there should be agreement on its implemetation plan. However, expect the plan to be challenged by reality.

Now over three decades ago the change goal was to raise the output of each tea bagging machine from 1,500 per minute to 1,650 per minute without loss of quality.

A small group of engineers worked on the challenge for many months (on overtime). The main issue was not raising the speed, it was maintaining quality. Dirty teabag seals became a swear phrase within the group, a sign of their frustration. However, trial and error became their friend, with various options being triailed and discarded..until a bespoke heat sealing system devised by the group emerged which met quality requirements. After proving trials, consistent quality tea bagging at 1,650 per minute became the norm across the factory.

Stage # 2 : Planning for Change Toolbox
Steps# 6 : Generate Options for Change# 7 : Select & Plan the Preferred Option for Change
Hard Techniques
  • Benchmarking
  • Extension of Objectives Tree
  • Mind mapping
  • Big bang, Parallel Running or Pilot Study?
  • Evaluation Matrix
  • Project Planning Techniques
Soft Techniques
  • Idea Generation Groups
  • Individual Contributions
  • Force Field Diagram
  • G-R-P-IR
    (Goals-Roles-Processes- Internal Relationships)
  • Tactics for Change (Options)

Discussion: Do you agree with our views? What other sources of ideas has proven useful?
What souce of ideas do you most rely on. How easy or difficult is the measurement and selection of options, particularly in complex change? We invite you to add to the toolbox, which will be updated and shared with
readers of Interactive.

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 patrt-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.