In our work with services we find the major issue in implementing CAPA is managing change. Staff and services are adept at helping young people and their families make the changes in their lives, so why is it so hard when it comes to service change? Probably because change is actually pretty difficult, not all staff want to change and it can arouse anxieties and uncertainties about roles and values.

Change needs to be understood and managed in a way that people can cope effectively with it. Change can be unsettling, so those leading the change need to provide a settling influence. It helps if staff affected by the change understand the need for change and have a chance to decide how the change will be managed. Talking together helps handle sensitive aspects of CAPA implementation.

What helps Change?

Change is most likely to happen if the status quo is seen as unbearable, the vision of change is powerful and the first steps to take are seen as manageable (Beckhard & Harris 1997). Introduction of CAPA needs those three things clarified and worked on. Changing things is most likely to succeed 1) if everyone in the team has the same shared view of what is unbearable, 2) the vision and 3) can agree the first steps.

We all react differently to change. And all of us are somewhere in the graph below...

Change Graph

Innovators are those types of people who come up with radical ideas and run with them. They are risk takers and want to push boundaries. Adopters also love change - they spot what innovators are doing and quickly go with it. These staff can be very adaptable but may not be experienced by some as reliable or dependable.

The Change Majority come next: they are OK with change if it is reasonably well argued and thought out. On the other side of the graph are the Stable Majority. They tend to be reflective, dependable and reliable. They weigh up pros and cons and tend towards the status quo. And at the far end are Stabilisers, more prone to want to keep things the same and likely to point out the disadvantages of any proposal.

In a team, all these positions are important. Stabilisers stop the Innovators rushing off and doing something stupid. Adopters move things forward for the Stable Majority. When change is occurring Innovators may feel the pace is too slow, Stabilisers feel it is all too fast. The challenge is to manage these positions. According to what the change is we may place ourselves at different places on the graph! In some aspects of our lives we’d be Innovators and others perhaps Stabilisers.