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Resource Center > Provider Toolkit > The NIATx Way > Appoint a Change Team

Appoint a Change Team

The Executive Sponsor appoints the Change Team.

Note to the Executive Sponsor: It is possible for a single person to execute a project, but most often it works better to include a team of people. A Change Team is a small group of employees (or select stakeholders) appointed by the Executive Sponsor to identify business process barriers and determine and implement rapid-cycle changes designed to improve the process. The role of the Change Team is to coordinate one project and initiate one improvement effort in their organization's access and retention systems.

Who should be on the Change Team?

The Change Team should consist of no more than seven people. Once you have selected the Change Leader, you might want to ask him or her to help you identify and appoint the rest of the Change Team. Use the walk-through to identify people to appoint to the team.

  1. The team should include members from all areas critical to the functioning of the system that is the focus of improvement activities. For example, a Change Team working on access issues would include a person who handles calls from potential clients requesting treatment services as well as a counselor. This may include:
    • Workers and supervisors in the unit (e.g., parts of the organization) where the changes will be implemented
    • Others who are affected by the change (e.g., other departmental staff if the change crosses departments, patients, etc.)
    • People with special knowledge about a specific change (e.g., patients, information technology staff, etc.)
  2. Have diverse talents represented. For example, it helps to have people who are creative and insightful and people who can carry ideas through to completion.
  3. Include outside perspectives (customers or someone who doesn’t work in the area).
  4. Keep the size small, no more than seven people—with more than that, the team gets too unwieldy and makes slow progress at best.

Send Written Invitation

When the team is selected, send a formal letter inviting each person to work on the project(s) selected. This assignment is a temporary, additional job for the person.

Common Change Team Pitfalls

As Change Teams begin their work within the organization, it is common to encounter barriers to change. It is important for the Executive Sponsor and Change Leader to learn to recognize these barriers and common pitfalls when implementing PDSA change cycles, and strive to overcome them.

Examples of how to overcome these common pitfalls include:

  • Empower the Change Leader and team to move quickly avoid delays, lost momentum, waning enthusiasm (e.g., promote participation in the change process)
  • Communicate constantly to all stake holders insure better access to resources, maintain enthusiasm throughout the organization, enhance sustainability
  • Understand your customers' needs
  • Gather data quickly (weekly), often by hand, to insure immediate feedback and study by the Change Team
  • Break projects into manageable chunks
  • Look for some easy early successes (don't tackle the hardest jobs first)
  • Stick with one aim and do several cycles on it before moving to a different aim
  • Be bold! This is an experiment, not a permanent change.

Of these eight examples, communication is the key.

With an effective communication plan, the Executive Sponsor and Change Leader should:

  • Involve staff in every step of the process
  • Get input on how things are going and why
  • Be willing to adapt to changing conditions
  • Have clear goals and communicate them often to everyone in the organization.