Award-winning change management


L to R: Lesley Pugh, Lisa Hancock (client), Rose Padfield, Emily Sun

As you might have seen in my recent LinkedIn announcement, The Padfield Partnership has won an award for excellence in change management, presented by the Association for Business Psychology.

The award was granted for a large change management project I worked on with two of my talented associates. Please read on to understand the work we did and discover the implications for your business.

This links to my article Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action


This world-renowned organisation comprises eight hospitals and 8,000 staff, and is known for its clinical excellence in key areas. It operates within an external environment that’s best summed up as VUCA:

  • Volatile
  • Uncertain
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous

The CEO and Board had ambitious plans for a transformation that would retain their global position and gain operational efficiencies and cost savings. However, there was no methodology for leading and implementing change.

The culture was hierarchical and silo-ed. Process and task were valued over relationships, making it a performance-based organisation rather than a learning organisation.

Clinicians were highly committed to their vocation, and valued looking after patients over their leadership role. This got in the way of driving important change that will sustain their leading position.

The staff were suffering ‘change fatigue’ from previous projects that hadn’t been handled well, so there was little capacity, energy or motivation for large-scale transformation.

The CEO realised that the organisation needed to build its change capability, and recruited an Organisational Development Director who appointed The Padfield Partnership.


We were briefed with achieving three main goals:

  • To create an aligned model and set of principles for enabling change through people
  • To provide tools and techniques for leaders to use, and build their confidence in using them
  • To begin shifting mindsets around making change through relationships rather than purely task and process

What we did

Over a two-day period, we interviewed a range of stakeholders at all levels and roles within the organisation, to find out their current capability, motivation and desires.

Together with the OD Director, we co-created a unique framework and two-day workshop.

We ran a pilot group with senior change leaders (which was spot on and needed no amendments).

Over the next 18 months, we delivered the workshop to the top 270 leaders, to guide participants through the model, and so they could practice using it in a safe environment.


We agreed three underlying philosophies:

  • Appreciative Inquiry
    Instead of a culture that’s focused on problems, spend time focusing on what IS working and how this can be applied elsewhere
  • Transactional Analysis
    Instead of people playing the role of parent:child or victim:rescuer, to encourage them to behave as adult:adult
  • Leadership agility
    Instead of valuing the ‘expert’ style of leadership, when leading large-scale change you need to use a ‘catalytic’ leadership style (there’s more on this in my articles: Introducing Leadership Agility and the Leadership Agility Compass)

From this, we devised a unique framework (see right).

The inner circles show the three underlying principles:

  1. Change begins with self
    It’s important to understand your feelings about the change, your role as a leader, and know yourself. It’s about being more than doing.
  2. Balance attention to tasks with attention to relationships
    Group success is dependent on other people. Leaders can’t force change through, and can’t possibly have all the answers themselves. The best style of leadership (in large-scale change) is catalytic, motivating other people to work on the change so everyone creates and shapes it together.
  3. Use a systemic way of working
    You can’t work in an ad hoc way with large, complex change – it would quickly descend into chaos. A Systemic way of working creates the consistency and clarity that is needed to plan and implement the change. This in turn enables an iterative approach where it’s required (and it will always be required with large-scale change, as you can’t know it all up front).

(In next month’s article, I’ll describe the six outer circles in a way that allows you to think how you could apply some of the learning for yourself.)


Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model

We used the 4-level model of evaluation created by Kirkpatrick in the 1950s and still the worldwide standard for evaluating the effectiveness of training.

Level 1: How satisfied are attendees with the workshop?

Level 2: What did attendees learn?

Those two levels were measured using an evaluation form after the workshop.

Level 3: What behaviours have attendees changed since the workshop?

Level 4: What organisational results have been achieved since the workshop?

To measure levels 3 and 4, we ran focus groups where delegates came together to share their learnings (what worked, as well as what didn’t). This reinforced the mindset of a learning organisation and helped sustain the momentum from the workshops.

We then wrote up a detailed report showing the results, which helped the senior leadership measure the return on the investment and identify ongoing development needs to deepen the learning.

Here are some of the results that were highlighted.


  • Attendees reported a high level of learning and satisfaction with the course (several said it was the best training they had received in their career, which makes me feel very proud)
  • Participants felt more resilient and better equipped to take risks which led to positive outcomes. (For example, one participant used the stakeholder map – part of the toolkit we provided – to develop a greater understanding of the individuals and groups who influenced a particular project, and so enabled the team to target stakeholder concerns and dispel myths)
  • Leaders reported greater awareness of the importance of change, and were more aware of using a catalytic leadership style and putting their people first. This resulted in staff being more willing to contribute to, and lead on, change initiatives
  • One year after the workshops, focus groups reported significant and sustained change in their personal behaviour

The programme had a positive impact across key areas of the organisation, including:

  • Delivery of Trust-wide change and change-readiness
  • The organisation became less parochial and more collaborative, with better cross-functional working. (For example, two large hospitals, each with their own well established brand, needed to merge against the wishes of the majority of staff. The change team developed a focused programme to bring staff together to work on joint projects, which led to a greater sense of collaboration between the teams)
  • Better staff development, engagement and accountability
  • Improved staff happiness and retention, with reduced sickness and absence rates (due to progressing the staff health and wellbeing strategy)
  • Improved leadership behaviour and self-awareness. (For example, two leaders reported having the confidence to prioritise; to take time out to focus on high-impact areas knowing that other things can be dealt with later – which was a brave thing to do in that culture)
  • Improved patient experience and reduced waiting times. (For example, 20% reduction in waiting times in the cancer outpatient clinic)

What this means to you

Here are the key things to remember when your team is facing large-scale change:

  • Don’t just focus on process and task; focus on relationships too. When it hits the fan, this is what will help you!
  • The secret of success is to focus on YOU first – understand yourself so you can personally connect with the change you are leading/contributing to
  • Make it safe for people to experiment, learn and adapt as they go. A lot of people don’t like change as it feels ambiguous and uncertain, so give people time to feel safe
  • You can’t force through large-scale change – it will fail if you don’t take people with you.  Start with your early adopters. Don’t feel you need to have all the answers yourself
  • Understand the needs and values of those you work closely with, and respect these
  • Celebrate wins, no matter how small. Appreciate the effort as well as the achievement
  • Follow a systemic path, whatever your methodology, and don’t skip a step – if you do, it’ll come back to bite you later on
  • Change is part of life – keep calm and carry on!

if you need to lead a change in your organisation, feel free to contact me (as an award-winning expert in change management!). I’ll help you think through how you might set yourself and your team up for success.

Next month

We’ll walk through the six stages of the process and explain each one.

Next monthSave