Oh man, the change management workflow concept is an unparalleled nuisance to explain. I’ve put this off for a long time, because while at its heart, it’s a simple idea, it’s far from simple to actually explain. Since it likens to a couple other logic concepts, the ideal thing would be to compare it to those. However, that would require an explanation of those forms of logic too, which is not much easier to do.
People with experience in visualized logic that equates to Boolean logic or decision trees would be right at home with the change management workflow concept. Those who are not, however, are a bit remiss, because explaining Boolean logic to someone not familiar with them is a giant pain too.
Well, to those not familiar with workflow and procedural logic, it’s basically a series of cases, actions taken within them, and then leading to other cases and procedures based on further analysis. Basically, an action is taken, and then based on comparisons, another set of actions is taken based on differing outcomes.
A workflow visualizes this kind of logic as a series of tabled actions and conditions, and lines leading between them to show the splitting and rejoining paths that are to be followed. You’ve undoubtedly seen simpler forms of this in the form of project flows, business process schematics and so forth. Many business plans and project layouts presented through Powerpoint etc. use this kind of flow logic to visualize abstract decision making processes and analyses.
Now that you’ve got a good visual grasp of what a workflow is, then you undoubtedly see where they are handy for change management. In change management, you have a series of steps and objectives, and a number of scenarios that can arise (with no surety at any given moment which scenarios could come up). So, you need a visual representation of what steps link together, and what cycles of navigation through these planned steps and conditions to follow at any given point.
Since they’re not linear, therefore can’t just be represented by a series of bulleted, stepped procedures, you’ll need the flow form of lines leading from one object to another, branching, rejoining etc.
So, there’s not really much to explain once you understand what a workflow is (which I know I haven’t explained as well as a professor might), and the nature of change management itself (which we’ve talked about at length in other pieces). So, now that you understand that it’s a visual representation of various phases, steps to be taken within them, and transition to other actions and phases based on conditions following the steps of each phase, you pretty much get the gist of what these are.
There are three basic workflows largely used, those being routine change, comprehensive change, and emergency change, but explaining them at length will require individual pieces to analyze them, without the preamble of explaining what the concept of a change management workflow is in and of itself. But, I think in a roundabout way, I’ve done a decent job of explaining what these are. If not, I am sorry, but there’s no easy way to explain this sort of thing without referring to other forms of workflow or logic, unless one wants to write a comprehensive book on the topic!
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.