Sudden and Unpredictable Change, Part 3: Strengthen People’s Ability to Change Activities

How do you lead people when your organization’s operating environment changes rapidly and unpredictably? This blog post will help build commitment and strengthen your ability to change. In previous parts of the blog series, we talked about values leading to sudden change and prioritizing and concretizing.

Change only happens when people feel it is their own, understand what it is all about and get the knowledge and skills they need to start working in a new way. In addition to adopting a new way, you must also be able to give up the old one.

Commitment comes from making people feel able to make a difference. That is why it is always worth involving them. But especially in the event of a sudden change, they have a lot of valuable information and insight into their environment and practical work.

In this part of the blog series, we explore managing human-driven change through the four fields of the image below. We are now looking at the commitment and capability that will enable change at the operational level. Again, you will find a change management tool in the text to help with staff engagement.

Commitment & capability

The pulse of change is now denser than we are used to and varies a lot. Traditional “collect information – analyze and involve – make a decision – implement” does not work in an unpredictable operating environment. Companies do not have the time or opportunity to carry out deep analyses or even know on what basis they are carried out.

Therefore, the most critical competence in the organization now is the ability to change. Now it is up to the management to prepare the organization so that changes to the operations can come quickly without prior knowledge of what these changes are, how long they will last and what the result will be.

Increasing the actual capacity for change quickly can be challenging. In the face of sudden, unpredictable change, it is more fruitful to strengthen people’s confidence that working together and discussing will find workable solutions to change. As a leader and supervisor, it is also important to set an example that new ways of working can be tried, and that the most important thing is to learn quickly what works and what doesn’t.

People usually want to help their organization to succeed – one skill of change is to channel this sensibly and efficiently. The staff has a huge amount of quiet information and a fresh contact surface with customers, which is why they are worth taking advantage of: what we can learn from this situation, what we could do differently and what new opportunities they see. Participation strengthens the commitment to the organization and its goals, both today and in the long term.

Tool: Collect observations from personnel. This directs thoughts towards the future and strengthens the organization’s ability to anticipate and prepare for changes.

At its simplest, observations can be collected in daily meetings or weekly meetings that are already in use. Observations can be collected, for example, with post-it notes on daily management boards, a meeting notebook, an Excel table, or utilize Yammer, Teams, Slack, or other familiar tools. Active collection of observations and their continuous documentation are essential.

Read more:

Our recently published blog on Human being – the most challenging thing in change communication gives good tips on change communication from the perspective of management, supervisors and the entire staff.

The last part of the series discusses how to deal with people’s questions and concerns related to the precarious situation in the world.


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.