The Tipping Point change management simulator

Action learning at its best, and a great example of powerful learning through gamification

At the heart of an organisational change is an idea about getting work done faster, better, or at lower cost. The Tipping Point simulator is built around the fact that ideas become contagious and spread when people advocate them. The best advocates are people with expertise in the area affected by the change who also have experience with it and enthusiasm for it. Leaders support these advocates by making their own commitment clear, providing necessary tools and information, recognising efforts, and rewarding successes to create the context for the new idea to spread.

The Tipping Point model of change links employees' attitudes toward a change with the Seven Levers of Change. The computer simulator embodies the theory. Used in the Tipping Point Workshop, the simulator provides a platform for friendly competition and focused dialogue, which makes these ideas come alive and allows participants can see them in action.

"Our programme has progressed to a roll-out that focuses on ‘Embedding the Trust values’ and ‘Leading change in systems’. The Workshop is providing our senior managers with a shared understanding of the levers of change and a common language as we plan and progress critically important developments in the way our Trust operates and performs. The Workshop’s ‘seven levers’ provide an invaluable mental model, and we have noted specific examples of shifts in emphasis that have resulted directly from learning that has emerged from the model’s lessons – for example, shifts in the emphasis and timing between mass communication and face-to-face contact, which can make all the difference to the effectiveness of our efforts to spread understanding of and commitment to important changes.
We are continuing to introduce more colleagues to the Tipping Point model, as part of our ongoing roll-out of the development programme, and are seeing the impact of this work through a greater shared understanding of the dynamic nature of leading change."

Michelle Brown Head of Organisational Development, Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

The Simulation's impeccable pedigree

The Tipping Point simulation is grounded in both a solid theoretical foundation and testing in real-life organisational settings. This explains its unique strength, validity, and applicability to a wide range of change initiatives.

First, it includes existing theories of organisational change, relying substantially on the work of Kurt Lewin, Marvin Weisbord, William Bridges, Daryl Conner, and John Kotter.

Second, it draws on lessons learned from public health, using the analogy between the spread of epidemics and the spread of ideas, as explored in books by Everett Rogers, Thomas Schnelling, and more recently by Malcolm Gladwell.

Finally, it also has deep roots in theories from systems dynamics, especially the work of Peter Senge and John Sterman.

Making the Simulator real

Expertise from the real-life experience of change leaders was needed to actually put numbers to the theory and create the computer simulator. Initial development drew upon the know-how of a small group of people who had been responsible for implementing a number of change initiatives and who had well over seventy-five years of change management know-how among them. Their knowledge was used to define the interrelationships in the simulation.

The prototype then underwent field testing with academics, students, and organisational change leaders before final development of the simulation, and continues to be tested and refined through constant exposure to the insights and feedback of experienced change leaders.

The Tipping Point has what social scientists call "face validity." Anyone familiar with change management will recognise the results as reflected in their own experience, but it is not meant to be a predictive tool.

What you get

It would be nice to have a computer simulation that gives the exact recipe for implementing any change. However, all organisations and all changes are different, and there is no single recipe for change. So no single simulation can provide specific answers for every change.

Nonetheless, the Tipping Point simulation’s structure and dynamics are comparable across organisations and changes, and the actions that leaders can take, represented by the levers of change, have parallels across a wide range of organisations and change initiatives.

Some examples are putting a six sigma programme into practice in an engineering company, improving throughput in a manufacturing unit, integrating new software systems into a complex multi-divisional business, streamlining customer service in banking, implementing a career management process in a health care environment, or revamping the supply chain management system in a high-tech manufacturing company.

Why it is relevant

The Tipping Point simulation offers a way for workshop participants to experiment with the dynamics of change and the change levers in a safe, low-risk environment. It fosters dialogue among team members and helps them learn from one another and create a shared mental model of what is needed to implement a change.

A shared mental model combines knowledge of each team member to create a richer, fuller understanding. There is an old saying, “All of us together are smarter than any one of us alone.” A shared mental model draws on the knowledge and experience of all team members, helping teams create a more effective implementation plan that addresses interactions that might otherwise have fallen through the cracks.

By using the Tipping Point simulation, the Tipping Point Workshop excels in its capacity to foster experimentation and dialogue that creates shared understanding among team members, creating a stronger, smarter team.

CONTACT US to learn more, to arrange a workshop, or to arrange facilitator training so you can add the brilliant Tipping Point Simulation to your toolkit.