Change Management

Our Approach

Our approach to managing change has a goal of smooth transitions to increased organizational relevancy and effectiveness. Although each assignment is unique, we find that several principles of good process apply to every one of our engagements. We engage clients in a process of self-driven change – focusing on future directions; developing an orientation to learning; ensuring corporate-wide engagement; and changing dysfunctional behaviour.

Self-driven change

We lead organizations to find their own solutions to organizational problems. We bring to each assignment a great deal of theoretical and practical experience and seek to transfer it to our clients. We feel that we have succeeded if the next time the organization is faced with an organizational issue, it possesses the tools to solve it internally.

We prefer to work with a team of client staff – preferably stakeholders in the process – because we firmly believe that the best organizational transition is one that has had input from the affected people. There is not much point in shuffling the boxes on an organization chart if the result is an organization with dysfunctional people.

We build the team, coach it on problem solving, strategic analysis and organization design techniques, facilitate the group through the analytical phase, and help it craft the final product. We help the team draw links between long term strategic goals and short term tactical actions. Equally important, we advise the team on ways to introduce the changes to minimize organizational disruption.

Focus on future directions

The members of an organization must develop a shared understanding of where they are going. We take the classic elements of strategic planning – environmental scans, purpose definition, issue identification, SWOT analysis, and the development of strategic options – and use them in a group process environment to build a team understanding of and commitment to, the future.

Purpose definition is a critical element to any focus on the future. The most important components are not simply the mission, purpose or results, but the process that a group went through. We facilitate a group process that ensures that the group develops a shared understanding of that purpose. We want everyone to be absolutely clear on What they are doing and Why, and we look for collective commitment to the direction as a prerequisite to successful behavioural change.

Developing an orientation to learning is key to the success of a change process. Most bureaucratic organizations have a traditional resistance to learning from the experiences of others. We work to overcome this tradition. By integrating learning into our change process, we have consistently been able to develop a higher level of creative problem solving. This orientation allows for a testing of assumptions, ensuring a smooth interface between the design and the implementation of the organization. We use lectures and best practice models in a structured group process format to demonstrate the successes and failures of others.

Many modern managers are insular and inward looking. We help them convert the results of our scanning, surveys and focus groups to learnings, raising the level of awareness of the change managers of the environment around them.

Corporate wide engagement is critical to the success of a change process. One of the major themes of corporate rejuvenation today is the nurturing of a corporate environment, giving staff a greater latitude to exercise judgement in their work. This goal can only be achieved if there is a strong understanding of the strategy and priorities of a particular organization or department. Many of the failures of good change proposals can be traced to the lack of corporate engagement and support. The various players and stakeholders must have their participation and understanding carefully phased in. Their engagement is usually the result of a carefully crafted communications strategy around every task, and strategic phasing of their interface with the project.

We have found that lasting redirection of an organization cannot really happen without finally changing behaviour in the workplace. Much of the cynicism addressed towards change projects usually can be traced to skepticism or outright disbelief that the people involved, particularly top management, can modify their behaviour – both between each other and with their staff. We always include in a change exercise a period of time which addresses the behaviour of the key players in the organization. We help the group analyze its culture, values and current operating style and lead them in the crafting of management principles – a behavioural code that will support the change talking place. We do not change the behaviour ourselves, but help our clients discover what behaviour work for or against the sort of changes they are trying to effect in the workplace.

Sample Projects


  • UNISDR: ESTA led a review of the central finance and administrative processes of UNISDR. Work included facilitating process mapping and process reengineering sessions.

  • UNISDR: Designed and facilitated an executive workshop to redesign the governance and decision making structures of senior managers.

  • United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR): Designed and delivered a multi-stakeholder process to develop Management Accountability Framework. Work included facilitating a workshop with the Senior Leadership Group to refine and finalize a draft Framework.

  • United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR): Over a three-year period ESTA led a team of consultants who worked with UNHCR’s Structural and Management Change Team to develop the first Global Management Accountability Framework (GMAF). The GMAF maps accountabilities, responsibilities and authorities across UNHCR, at the country, regional and headquarters levels, for ten key areas of UNHCR’s work and relates them to their corresponding management policies, tools and guidance. ESTA used an engagement model, whereby he engaged senior leaders in South Asia and Southern Africa in a series of facilitated training workshops to develop the GMAF from the “ground up”.

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): ESTA worked with UNHCR staff in the design and delivery of a facilitated process to create a Staff Management Consultative system for UNHCR. Over three facilitated sessions, using both large (85 participants) and small (8 – 10 participants) group process, ESTA facilitated Management and Staff Association representatives to an agreement on the final design of the new system.


  • Service Canada: Design of the organizational/cultural change programme for the recently created department.

  • HRDC-Income Securities Programmes: Process renewal of International Benefits.

  • Royal Canadian Mint: Managed the changeover from hierarchical, control-based management to client focused, team-based structures.

  • Parks Canada: Change management, business strategies, Eastern Canada Managers.

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Strategic change management in the introduction of automated systems into the workplace in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

  • PS 2000: Strategic advice to the chief executive managing the organisational renewal of the Public Service of Canada on the development and communication of core values and attitudes in the Public Service of Canada.

  • Correctional Services of Canada: Designed and managed an eighteen month employee-driven change process.

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Cadet Development Programme, RCMP Depot.

  • External Affairs and International Trade: Designed and facilitated the introduction of new client service models into the International Trade Centres.