Earlier this month, I heard Paige Lillard, VP of Business Excellence at Turner Broadcasting, share her change management process with Organization Change Alliance, a professional networking group of organization change practitioners in Atlanta (I am currently the Chair of OCA). It was a great case study of how an internal group can propagate change throughout a large organization.
One of the techniques Paige shared was a simple and effective way to engage the biggest resistors to each change initiative.
The technique is based on a process the US Army uses to improve their battle strategies, called “Blue team” and “Red team.” Paige explained that in the Army, the Blue team is the group that comes up with the strategy, and then a separate Red team then acts as the enemy and figures out how they would beat the Blue team given the battle plans. The Blue team then improves the strategy based on this information.
Similarly, at Turner the Business Excellence team uses the Blue team / Red team concept to improve project plans. The Blue team – the project team – builds their implementation plan. Then the Blue team presents the plan to the Red team – an independent group of people commissioned to figure out why the plan won’t work. (Of course, it makes sense to recruit those people expected to be the biggest resistors and vocal detractors of the project.) A member of the Business Excellence team, acting as a neutral facilitator, asks the Red team to figure out and share why the implementation won’t work. Then they ask the Red team how they would fix it.
Not only are projects improved by involving the Red team, but using this process engages resistors to help the project team with the implementation! It may take several iterations, but eventually, the Red team merges with the Blue team for a smooth implementation. Sheer genius.
Paige also shared the story of how she became a change agent in a recent episode of my radio show: The Path to Business Excellence.