May 17,2020 Change Management

Upward Feedback Sessions

Upward Feedback Sessions

Conjoined Planning

Following the change announcement, the change team officially becomes the entire organization. With the need to engage the workforce into the change process, upward feedback sessions extend the hand to the workforce asking to join them.

The change team has an incomplete roadmap at this juncture. The workforce is then asked to participate in the change by participating in upward feedback sessions. These sessions serve several purposes with the most important being the selection of decision points. The nudges come into play for the employees to choose the direction which will enable the completion of the road map.

Upward feedback sessions are run by the change facilitator or a team of facilitators. Depending on the organization’s size, this could be one upward feedback session, or it could be hundreds of sessions. The workshop’s focus is on deciding on the direction of the change.


The session design poses the decision to make and then gives the participants the data to make an informed decision on which direction the company should go.  Impact projections shared along with financial modeling which incorporates the change analyst and choice architect’s analysis. The goal is to give full transparency and perspective needed to decide.

The intent is to nudge the organization in a specific direction, but the process provides a doublecheck redundancy using the people to uncover blind spots. Organizations are highly complex systems, ones that hide pockets of value. This process intends to guide the decision-making process, however, blind spots will be exposed with more eyes on the problem. This adds an organizational perspective and depth to thinking. The sponsor must realize that depending on what is uncovered during these their predetermined endpoint may change to an entirely new direction.

Once a decision is made on the direction the workforce then helps complete the change road map of how to make it a reality. The road map transitions into a project plan of all the nuanced items to accomplish to enact the change. Secondarily, this additionally helps the organization reframe what they have to do personally to make the change successful.

Why Inclusion

If you are reading this book odds are that you understand the importance of including the entire organization into the change process. Odds are that you also have some senior leaders that do not understand why. This places the emphasis of the change manager as one who can persuade and groom their leadership to make smart decisions around supporting the process.

Change is moving the organization. The workforce must change for it to be successful. By providing those employees with a seat at the changing table they shift from resistance to proactivity.

Power to Choose

Allowing employees to make choices their engagement increases. Additionally, by incorporating employees into the planning of how the change will be executed solidifies their involvement. They switch from being changed to dictating the change.

Lastly, the planning process is an opportunity to tie up loose ends and uncover unknown impacts. Planning in a box or echo chamber is never effective. Instead, inclusive planning finds hidden insights by adding a more organizational perspective. This, in turn, results in a greater success rate of the change being implemented.

Players Roles & Responsibilities

Change Champion

  • Kickoff the upward feedback sessions
  • Provides organizational and market perspective during the sessions

Change Manager

  • Updates the change road map
  • Develops the project plan

Communications Manager

  • Communicates the workshop outcomes to the entire organization

 Change Facilitator

  • Create ideal workshop conditions for open dialogue
  • Run upward feedback sessions

Change Analyst

  • Provides data and insights during the sessions
  • Explain the impacts of decisions made

Choice Architect

  • Helps guide and inform the upward feedback sessions

Core Change Team

  • Encourage participation with their teams

Case Study:

Ron was banking his career on this shift to automation. Knowing that he needed the employee base to support this transition, he wanted all of the 2,000-person company involved. This was going to be a commitment consisting of 100 sessions with 20 people lasting up to 8 hours. Ron spoke about this as a 16,000-hour investment, “we will pay a heavy toll to begin, but that upfront investment will pay dividends in the long run.” Drew in turn, enlisted a small team to help facilitate these 100 sessions.

Each session had a structure to its design. Howard or Ron kicked off each session reemphasizing the importance of the change. Then Drew would crack a few jokes to add some much-needed levity and help create an environment where people could speak their minds. Drew talked through the premise of doing what’s best for the company was best for each person’s livelihood. Drew then went into explaining the decision point process, the power each person held, and then he framed the choices for the team.

1st Nudge

The first choice centered on how to implement automation. The original analysis pointed to the organization automating a small product line as a pilot and then to focus on product lines that used a lot of people. Jacquie attended each session and laid out the data on ROI based on implementation timelines. In each session, the participants played with which lines should go first and Jacquie’s financial models spit out what that would mean financially for the company. However, during multiple sessions teams identified that due to a unique set up of the factory floor that spacing considerations would restrict the second automation pilot. This led to the team identifying a reshuffling of the order which would open more physical space to allow for unencumbered retooling.

Each session then shifted to the second decision point, the more emotionally charged decision. What do people do after their product line is automated? Debates raged on in each session on the best way to use a surplus of people. The original decision point was maintaining each person in a backup role or to set up experimental product lines for custom parts.


Jacquie’s modeling showed that in back-up roles costs wouldn’t come down unless there was an influx of retirements. It painted the picture that while there would be no layoffs immediately, the company would be put in a weak position and that cuts may come later. Drew walked a fine line of facilitation juggling infighting and emotional debates. In most sessions, informal leaders came forward to strike the balance of understanding the implications and how they could make the company stronger. Even though they knew that changing into a flexible role would be difficult, many saw the advantages of creating new product lines.

Following each decision point, Drew led each team through the planning process. The teams would vet everything that would take place to implement. Andy then compiled and organized the actions. This helped him build out the project plan scrutinizing the actions once again with those impacted. Finally, the phase concluded after everyone got their say in the change and upon the publishing of the comprehensive change plan.


How Leaders Can Get Honest and Productive Feedback

Read More about Change

Let 9m Facilitate Your Next Change Event

Share This