Committing to Solutions
With a well-defined problem and an assemblage of relevant resources, the system is in a good position to choose a solution or a set of possible solutions. There is much more to be said about how this choosing or fabricating process should go forward. One of the biggest mistakes change agents make is jumping on a solution without thinking through how it would apply in practice, how it might need to be adapted to fit the special circumstances of this system, and what its various consequences might be in the short and long term.
It may well be that you have already settled on a particular solution that you are going to try, no matter what, or that your client or sponsor has done so. That is OK. Indeed, it is the typical circumstance that most change agents will find themselves in, at least on the first round. Being focused on particular solutions is the normal state of affairs. It may even have been pre-ordained or dictated by the search process as the “one obvious choice,” or the one way it is most logical to go. If so, the Try stage is just a walk-through. You can skip to T‑5, “Adapt,” or go on to T‑6, “Act.” Keep in mind, however, that if you run into trouble later on, you may have to come back here and invest a little more time and thought in what should actually be done to bring about a successful change effort. Stage 5.1, “Focus” identifies major solution types, each presenting a somewhat different set of challenges.
Committing to Solutions - knowledge to action
With a problem and a lot of relevant information, the client needs to be able to derive some implications and settle upon a potential solution. This is the most creative and interesting task in the process of change, but it is a task that most change agents know little about. Some will leave the client system at this point, assuming that clients know what is best for them and know how to pick out the best solution when they have retrieved all the “facts” and have a good diagnosis. This is not a safe assumption. Very few people are really skilled at generating solution ideas and choosing among them, even when they have a clear idea of what they need.
The following analysis of what might go on in Stage 5 provides some guidelines. It is intended to help any client system generate solutions and make the right choices. We suggest a six‑step sequential process that can be followed in choosing solutions organized as shown in the diagram. As illustrated in the diagram, choosing the solution cannot easily be separated from diagnosis and resource acquisition activities. That said, we try here to suggest both a sequence for this process and the ways in the individual steps relate to each other.
Try Sub-Stages: Six Steps for the Change Agent to Consider
Step T‑1: Assemble and order the relevant findings
Step T‑2: Derive implications from the knowledge base
Step T‑3: Generate a range of solution ideas
Step T‑4: Test feasibilities
Step T‑5: Adapt
Step T‑6: Act
Review the full chapter for Stage 5 in The Guide for in depth guidance for each TRY sub-stage.
What the Change Agent Needs to Know Most in the TRY Stage
Whenever you have the opportunity, you should plan a pilot test of an innovation before making a final decision on selection. Limited tryouts on several innovations can give additional data on several of the criteria listed above to help in making rational choices. Above all, the trial demonstrates the degree of relevance and suitability to the problem at hand.
Because the trial phase can also be seen as an aspect of “installation” and “gaining acceptance,” it will be discussed again and expanded upon in Stage 6.
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