April 22,2020 Change Management

Choice Architecture

Choice Architecture

Engaging the Organization with Choice Architecture

Choice architecture is dependent on the high-level change map. The map determines decision points on where the workforce will decide the change. This act turns the change event from insertion to empowerment.

As a change leader, the tendency is to err light on what authority the workforce has on the change and engages the workforce in unimportant decisions. This fear is based on the loss of control. For example, during a major reorganization, the change team enlists the workforce to decide the office set-up. It is a nice gesture; however, it does not enlist the organization into the change process. While it is a start, employees will see through this and not truly feel empowered

There is also a heavy engagement model where the change leader understands that there will be a significant number of unknowns and will relinquish significant control to the employees to determine the direction the organization will take. For example, during a recession and having the workforce decide how to navigate the market. Do you lay people off, furlough, attempt a merger, invest in new products? This would be a highly advanced model with significant trust endowed upon the workforce.

Why Engage the Entire Organization

People naturally have an aversion to change, more so they hate being changed without their consent. From the start of the employee and employer relationship a false belief that a partnership has begun. The false narrative is that the employer can drastically change their “partners” life without their concurrence. This unequal or unbalanced partnership forever creates mistrust between both partners. Historically this has resulted in most changes where organizations don’t treat employees as partners but as pawns or statistics.

Healthy, well-oiled organizations strive for trust, autonomy, and participation. An employee naturally wants to invest in their company, to be proud of it. They want to be treated with respect and know that their opinion is valued. They want to be an actual partner with their employer who taps into their insights for the overall well being of the organization that they created together.

Unfortunately, this is a dream state scenario that exists in rare circumstances. However, by actively engaging employees into the change process it helps lead them to invest in the business. They have a vested interest; the company represents their link to where they receive their next meal. By engaging this army into the change process, the employee takes ownership of the change for it has then become their idea and plan. Their trust in the organization will grow and tough decisions will be easier navigated as a more nuanced insight will be gained in the process.

Players Roles & Responsibilities

Change Champion

  • Identifies and approves the decision points
  • Approves the direction to nudge the stakeholders
  • Explains the potential impacts to the leadership team and how the change can alter from its original plan

Change Manager

  • Documents decision points
  • Updates the project schedule to reflect how the decision points can alter the project timeline

Change Analyst

  • Performs the impact analysis of each decision point
  • Helps frame decisions for the future stakeholder feedback sessions

Choice Architect

  • Frames the decisions for the stakeholders and which direction to nudge

Change Facilitators

  • Helps frame decisions
  • Identifies potential issues and risks during the stakeholder feedback sessions
  • Determines strategies to facilitate each decision point and nudge


  • Identifies decision points and nudge directions
  • Helps determine 2nd and 3rd order impacts of decisions made

Case Study

Josie, Drew, and Jacquie reviewed the change map together each bringing a unique perspective. Evaluating the six potential change points for the employees to engage in, the team debated if six decision points were too many. Having that many opportunities would heavily involve the employees, however, it would also open the risks of altering the overall change. The debate ended in concurrence to choose two employee decision points which would balance Ron’s overall guidance between employee engagement and still moving automation forward.

The first decision point focused on how to implement automation. Given that automation was mandatory, the team wanted the stakeholders to develop the tactics of how to implement it. What product lines should be automated first? What would the layout of the facility be? How will the supply chain process align with the new model? Josie, the choice architect, emphasized the goal to guide the stakeholders to have a pilot and then transition to the most labor-intensive product lines. This would also be a nudge away from the team proposing to work mostly on small product lines to just save jobs. Jacquie then started on the analysis of cost savings and project impacts of both decisions.

Second Point

The second decision point centered on how employees would provide value after their jobs were automated. The owner Howard guaranteed their jobs afterward, but they had to move into a new value creation area for the automation move to pay off. The change team outline two potential options. The first option where the workers would stay employed in a back-up role and maintain the machines. The second option would be the creation of small teams that would build customized engines.

With the two decision points decided, Josie started designing the questions and how to elicit additional questions from the workforce. Jacquie developed the long-term impact of building out economic models and the best way to communicate the impacts to the stakeholders. Drew focused his design efforts on how to structure a workshop that would lead to these decision points and how he would guide the conversation.


Leaders as Decision Architects

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