A perspective of the application of Change Design Principles

Jenga stack of blocksWhen change is complex with a high degree of uncertainty, typical methods of ‘change management’ are insufficient. A better way to plan and navigate through changing is principles-based. The Change Design Principles (and Key Factor Cards) bring a design sensibility to organisational change management and are a modern sophisticated tool to add to your professional OCM toolkit.

These are principles to apply in making change in organisations; they are design principles to influence design choices.  In organisational change management the ‘something’ that is designed, might be a program of change activity; a specific activity or experience; or an object or interaction that addresses a need or problem. Read more on designing experiences of changing.


Activities using the Principles

The Change Design Principles come to life when used in conversational activity. The Card Set contains ACTIVITY cards to help you create different conversational experiences as part of designing and delivering your organisational change program.

Listen to creator Helen Palmer, share about two ACTIVITIES where the cards could be used.

Free Activities available now

Notes: These activities are not printed on cards in the card set.

Suggestion for a new activity

Share with us your suggestion for a new Activity to add to the OCM Practitioner collection.


Stories of using the Cards

Real people are using the Questo Change Design Principle Cards in their everyday practice. Here are stories about those moments for an OCM context.

Story 1. Primed and ready to design impactful change

We, human beings favour simple-looking solutions and complete information over complex ambiguous options, and I’m no different. However, as a Change Analyst, I need to acknowledge the complexity we deal with.

The Questo Change Design Principles Cards are a constant reminder of complexities associated with change and provide a SIMPLE method to manage it. You ask ‘How’? I used it to prime my team before we plan for any change. What I like most is that it focuses on the how of change, and not the what of change.

Our team has a selection of Principle, Activity and Key Factor cards on our team wall, and we revisit them before our stand-ups. This way we are primed to make decisions, considering the change principles we have set for ourselves. We treat every conversation in our organisation as an opportunity for change, and with the Design Principles in mind we’re were able to have a more impactful conversation every time.

Thank you so much Questo!

Manvendra Kumar
Government Department
Dec 2017


Story 2. Conversation over cake with cards

What about over cakes and cards?

During a recent ‘Leadership in Information Management’ workshop I facilitated, I challenged my participants to grab some morning tea and take some time to read the Questo Change Design Principle Cards I had displayed. I asked them to pick three that really resonated with them so that as they were designing the change in their careers, they would be doing it in a way that was authentic to them.

Some participants found more than three and some only found one. Some liked the Principle, some connected to the explanation, and some felt that it was the quote that ‘spoke’ to them. Very few picked the same card.

What it brought home to us all was that change is highly personal and that, in itself, is a great conversation.

Kate Fuelling
Kate Fuelling Consulting (Digital by Design)
July 2018


Story 3. Designing community engagement

In creating a recent community engagement activity, I chose the Change Design Principle Cards to help establish some key factors that would be included in the design. There were two reasons for selecting this tool; I was feeling stuck and reverting to old planning patterns, and I was seeking a way to ensure this engagement had meaning and a human-centric design. I chose to shape the activity by working through the deck and trying to apply each principle to the engagement. I established five fitting principles which resonated with the goals for the engagement, and I used these to re-shape the basic ideas I had begun with. My principles ranged from “moving people with inspiration” to “honouring my audience” and the value of applying these principles was enormous. They challenged my way of thinking, and my assumptions about how this engagement would be formed, pushing me to make new meaning for my audience and to think differently about the value of what I had designed for the people I was trying to engage. I’m planning to select a new set of cards for the next iteration of this activity, to challenge myself to extend this meaning-making and continue to improve my design thinking.

Faith Timbs
Valiente and Change Community Hub
September 2020


Story 4. Unfreezing the organization but not in the way you know it!

I decided to use the Change Design Principle cards as an ice-breaker to a strategic planning retreat with a newly created senior level team who had been thrust into a situation where many of the fundamentals of their organisation were changing, with them expected to lead!

I spread the cards out on a central table and asked them to gather around and quickly pick one, not to spend too much time deliberating. I asked them to simply pick a card that they related to in regard to the experience of change and managing change. We then spent the next half hour or so with each of them sharing and reading aloud the principle on the card they had picked and then talking about why they related to that principle.

Mostly their stories were about previous change they had lead or been a part of – some enjoyable experiences, some not. Doing this meant that they all shared a little of their ‘credentials’ when it came to having managed change, as well as their concerns. As their experiences were varied and from many different organizations it had the added benefit of us all learning from each other and picking up ideas and tips. Having a ‘principle’ to relate to or speak about unlocked their personal experiences in a non-threatening way and enabled deeper sharing to occur.

As a Facilitator and Change Management Consultant I found it a really useful way to start the ball rolling on starting to design and lead our own change, helping them to focus on change being an experience and incorporating emotion not only plans and outputs. It helped us start from a position of vulnerability and openness and took us off our focus of day to day tasks and onto a more strategic, higher level view.

Bronte Jackson
Independent Change Management Consultant; Intergovernmental, multi-lateral and UN
April 2022


See other Stories in Team Development Context section.


Submit a Story

Share with us your story in how you used the cards for positive impact.