Sudden and Unpredictable Change, Part 2: Balance the work and make room for change

In the first part of the blog series on sudden and unpredictable change, we introduced how, in a rapidly changing situation, management must be constantly on the pulse of its organization and that action must be based on values ​​when there is little information.  We also noted that the success of sudden – as well as anticipated and long-lasting – change requires that people be able to adopt new ways of doing things and give up old ones.

In this second blog, we take a closer look at the wholeness of human making and its role in leading change. How to ensure that in the event of a sudden change, there is enough time and energy to do the daily work? And how to concretize the situation and communicate it clearly in a rapidly changing situation?

We will continue to change the quadrant and once again offer thematic change management tools to help. In this section, we use the next two lenses of the four fields: 1) at the strategic level, we are talking about capacity and load management as an enabler of change; and 2) at the operational level, we create a foundation for change by focusing on the concrete and the daily work.

Capacity & load

Even during a crisis, normal everyday life and business must continue, which also often helps people to deal with it. To have enough lanes and capacity to do your daily work, you need to prioritize your work even more strongly than usual. What we need now are guidelines: what we focus on and what we leave to rest.

  • What changes are those that need to be pushed through when the situation around us is unpredictable?
  • What things must go on and on? Why is it important?
  • And on the other hand: what can we leave out right now?

General Tool: Control Circle (PDF). This allows you to view the situation from many different perspectives. The circle of control identifies what you can influence yourself and then helps you understand what to focus on. It also strengthens the ability to act.

Tool: TOP 3 Summary (PDF). Clearly condensed, concrete prioritization creates trust, is easy to absorb and reduce the self-prioritization of different parts of the organization, which can conflict with the whole.

Concrete & everyday life

Since the change in people’s activities is so central to the success of the changes, the necessary changes in daily work, the everyday life of the workplace and the way in which they operate should be put into practice as much as possible. In sudden, unpredictable changes, it can be tricky. It may be that no one knows what people’s everyday lives at work look like during change and when change occurs.

That is why concrete changes in everyday life must be seen together. The task of middle management and supervisors is to discuss and refine with their own teams what changes in working day or work tasks. These discussions are based on an understanding of the importance of change and the will and values of the organization.

It is important that everyone in the organization understands that decisions have been made based on current information. As more knowledge and understanding is gained, decisions will be changed as needed. This is worth saying out loud. The bigger the decision, the clearer and more concretely.

Tool: Situation overview (PDF). Simple tools make it easier for middle managers and managers to communicate and provide a clear, unified way to communicate changes.

More on this topic

You can also read more about capacity and load in our previously published blog Any more bandwidth available?

In the following blog post, we talk about engaging people, especially in sudden changes when there is no time and information to do an in-depth analysis. Then the ability to change is needed.


Petra Alijärvi, consultant. Petra is a disaster work professional who has learned around the world that there is always reason to have plan B and C.

Minka Keinänen, consultant. Minka has worked at CCEA for several years on change management projects.

Karoliina Krook, senior consultant. Karoliina is an experienced change and communication professional who is accustomed to acting quickly even in unpredictable situations.