Align your culture and team


Whether your company is going through a re-org, speeding up adoption of a new process, or looking to create a culture of innovation, change always creates conflict.

The most significant tension is the Current-Desired state divide.

The “Change Gap” is created mostly by misunderstandings and miscommunication.

Take this stat as an example: only 29% of employees can correctly identify their company’s strategy. That means most people are misaligned because they don’t know, not because they don’t want.


This framework will help your team or organization:

  • align the perceptions of those driving change and the ones who have to adopt change
  • build a journey to move from the ‘current state’ to the ‘desired state’
  • solve the root problem not just tackle resistance symptoms
  • reframe mindsets and emotions to build a culture of change


The process covers three key phases:

  1. Understand the ‘change gap’
  2. Explore possible solutions
  3. Implement solutions at a small ––and then large–– scale.

Though it’s a continuous cycle, it doesn’t mean you have to start from the beginning. It depends on your organization’s specific challenge.


“Clarity = Speed.” — Ken Perlman

diagram of the change gap approach


Assessment: The Change Canvas tool is specifically designed to define and understand what the tensions are. Most importantly, the different expectations and beliefs that are creating a divide.

Rather than thinking of others as opposition, realize that everyone sees the problem through different eyes. And a different starting point too.


Empathize: This will help leaders understand the real challenge they have to solve, but also how to better connect with his team. It also helps employees better understand how leaders think too.

Empathizing helps validate hypotheses and also drives a better understanding among different players.


Reframe: Revisiting the original problem through the empathy lens helps better understand the ‘Change Gap’ and reframe it into a meaningful one. To move beyond the obvious and symptoms, and focus on what’s really slowing change down.


Minimum Viable Change (MVC): At this point, I think we agree that driving change requires experimentation rather than a step-by-step plan.

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

We encourage organizations to borrow a startup mindset and launch an MVC rather than trying to change everything overnight. What’s the small dose of behavior change that can drive early adoption?

The “MVC” should be easy to implement, create quick impact, also provide more learnings about our ‘user.’


Test & Test & Learn: Building on the above rather than building a 3-year plan to drive change, we recommend small changes that will help you achieve your 3-year goals.

Implement alternatives––not just one option.


Nail It, then Scale It: Moving fast is critical to succeeding in the disruption economy. But accelerating change in the wrong direction can be too expensive. Once you are getting learning, make tweaks, and perfect the approach.

Part of ‘nailing it’ includes having advocates that will help drive scale too.


Reassess: Start all over again. Change never ends. It’s a continuous cycle. Most importantly, as we like to say in the innovation world, the solution to a problem creates a new problem.

What are the change-driven tensions that create a gap in your organization?





First, choose one specific change initiative you want to solve. Focusing helps achieve faster results.

This might sound obvious, but lack of focus drives failure. When we try to change everything, we end changing nothing.


Change Gap canvas model


1. Current State & Desired State:
Capture the current and desired state in one sentence. Keeping it short will help you remove details and distractions. Use the words of the change agent or leader. We want to identify with their perception and feelings.


2. The Change Gap
Underneath the bridge sign, recognize what’s the real tension or gap. In most of the cases, the change gap is driven by one of the following:


New Direction: where we want to take the organization(Vision, identity, purpose, new business model or structure, etc.)

Speed: how fast we think and act (decision making, go to market, implementation, etc.)

Accountability: precise distribution of roles and authority (who does what, who’s the end decision maker, who makes the call, etc.

Processes: an agreed way of collaborating (how we do things, tools we use, etc.)

Quality: a shared standard of what makes the team proud (quality of the work, service, and interpersonal relationships, talent assessment, etc.)

The Change Gap is the starting point. It captures the most significant tension that’s not allowing the team to reach the desired state. Bridging the gap is a collective responsibility: everyone needs to move beyond ‘them’ vs. ‘us’ or ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong.’


3. Who’s behind?
Identify those who are lagging adoption or merely resisting the change initiative.

Creating a ‘persona’ makes it less personal. You are designing a change strategy, think of ‘laggers’ as the users. Give them a name, a job title, capture their goals and values.


4. What are the key beliefs?
The mindset is how your persona sees the world. You must dig deeper to empathize with this group and learn to see the world through their lenses.

Change puts collective and individual identities at risk. By promoting new behaviors or processes, some individuals feel that what them, and their work, stood for no longer makes sense. Before you become defensive too, learn to walk in their shoes.

Also, discriminate the perceived risks from the real ones. Are there communication issues getting in the way? Are emotions blinding the team?


5. How do tensions manifest themselves?
Once you’ve captured the mindset, focus on the thoughts, feelings, words, and behaviors that bring the tensions to life.

Do these manifest regularly, or are there simple reactions to specific stimulus? Understanding rituals and words used is essential to compare them to those of the leaders. Communication drives one of the most apparent change gaps. Everyone thinks they are clear, but the other side listens to a different story.


6. Who’s ahead?
Same as for those who are behind but focusing on the ones who are either driving the initiative or have already adopted it.


7. What are the expectations?
The same way beliefs get laggers stuck; expectations make those who are ahead blind or deaf.

Leaders see differently. They visualize their dreams materialized even before the construction has started. They tend to anticipate or be too optimistic, creating a divide with the mundane perspective of those who are in the trenches.


8. How do tensions manifest themselves?
Same exercise as you did for the current state but, in this case, from the perspective of those who are ahead.


9. Tensions & Hypotheses:
Once you completed the entire canvas, spend some time comparing both sides. Look for commonalities but, most importantly, identify contradictions, tensions, or surprises.

Ideate. Craft some hypotheses. Find insights to understand better what’s going on.

Use these hypotheses as to the starting point for conducting empathy research with employees, leaders, manager, and stakeholders.


10. Reframe the Real Change Gap
This template will help you easily capture your findings.

Canvas by Liberationist. Design: Moira Dillon

The space is limited on purpose. Focus on what’s critical.


Additional Resources