Change Management Process Improvement

"We wanted to work with an organisation that would fit in with our team to observe us working together and understand the issues in real time. Ennovate brought us through a structured process using Commitment Management and Action Learning to help us craft and deliver commitments. I am pleased with the process and recommend this approach for building team capability." Gerard Murphy, Managing Director, Forest Division

Coillte is Ireland’s largest forestry, land and natural resources company employing approximately 1,000 people and owns over 445,000 hectares of land, about 7% of the land cover in Ireland. 

Back in 2011 Coillte embarked on a Transformation Programme to deliver a lower more flexible cost base and improve operational performance. The result was a focused strategy creating value along three divisions, Coillte Forest, Coillte Panel Products, and Coillte Enterprise. As part of that transformation Coillte Group Executive Team introduced initiatives to support their leadership team pilot practices to build new capability.

Ennovate worked with two divisions that were at different stages within their commitment journey. The Forest Division had already introduced Commitment Management and wanted a deeper understanding and an approach to increase their effective use of Commitment Management in their work.

The Forest Division had an ambitious programme to transform their operation. For instance, this division was implementing innovative technology and systems that would provide new visibility on when to harvest, and a much clearer understanding of likely future yields. They restructured their teams to bring about a stronger performance focus and introduced specialist technical roles to build deeper understanding of Forest technology to support their field operations. They recognised a need to build and invest in their management capability within the Forest Division. Commitment Management offered a set of management skills to help drive actions within their division to continue to innovate and improve performance.

The HR Division had yet to begin their journey in the use of Commitment Management and whilst they had an intellectual understanding of the new discipline they were not convinced that it would be benefit them. Within the HR Division, the management team had built a portfolio of services that was comprehensive, but the team had a goal of increasing their ability to deliver more flexibly to different divisions without compromising the integrity of a unified HR service. Their challenge was to create new standards of accountability to divisional heads.

In Spring 2015 Ennovate was invited to coach the Forest and HR Division’s senior management teams to change their respective ways of working and develop their competency in using commitments to drive performance.

While both teams were at different stages in learning about commitment management and its effective application it was important that we did not create divergent understanding of commitment management.  Consequently we decided that we needed a similar approach with different emphasis on various phases for both divisions.


  1. Build Reasons for Change During the first stage we got the team to consider why it was necessary to work differently at all.  They asked; “What could be better by making achange?”  These reasons need to make sense both at a personal level and at a team level. 
    1. We worked with members of the management team to build mutual understandingon how they worked together and how using commitments would deliver a better outcome for them personally and collectively. 
    2. We tailored ourinvolvement based on the needs of each team member. 
    3. Before moving forward, we determinedthat the majority of the team saw personal benefit for them in using commitments. 
  2. Build Shared GoalsThe first step in moving a team to act differently is to create a set of shared team goals greater than the current ambition of the team, and then to build a set of commitments that the team individually make to the managing director and each other, the delivery of which will achieve the goals.
    1. Once the majority of the team were on-board with commitments in principle, we proceeded to build shared goals through a workshop.
    2. We worked then with the team to create commitments that were individually deliverable, each with a clear customer.
    3. We took care to make sure the team crafted some goals on softer measures, for instanceemployee engagement which led to the design of initiatives to improve staff mobility and motivation.
  3. Make Outcome-based Requests – We helped the team members recast their commitments to produce outcomes rather than execute tasks.  This change in focus removed from the discussion any actions not directly connected to delivering a promised outcome.  The introduction of this discipline required the request maker to more fully consider the outcome they wanted and by doing so it broughtmore clarity to the request and more accountable delivery.
    1. Working with the team we examined some recently delivered actions to see if they could be improved.  In doing this we created a desire for Commitment Management within the team.
    2. We introduced theconcept of outcome-based requests and then asked the requestor (usually the managing director) to consider what concern did the request address and what outcome did they want to achieve.
    3. We facilitated the team to coach each other as they prepared their offers, made their commitments and reported on progress to their customer.  This experiential learning process was a key part of building the teams skills.
    4. We instituted a small but critical practice where a person who had accepted a request was required to restate the commitment they believed they were giving back to their customer to validate their mutual alignment around the expected outcome and the path to deliver that outcome.
  4. Give the team to time to negotiate – Before letting any potential customer ask for a commitment, we made sure the potential performer, the person who had been asked to deliver the work was satisfied that they could deliver the requested outcome. 
    1. We used the Quarterly Performance Review process to consider new actions and requests that advanced strategic initiatives at Group Executive Team level.  These more complex requests required the senior managers to carefully consider their resource requirements and how they would get others to commit to them before making a commitment.
    2. We looked for to reschedule the commitment conversation when the potential performer had time to complete the tasks to establish whether he could deliver the commitment.
    3. At the rescheduled meeting the commitment and reporting progress was agreed.
  5. Put in place a Measurement Practice – A measurement practice where ongoingcommitments are trackedand reviewed are an essential part of ensuring commitments don’t fade away and of managing a team’s performance.
    1. The Forest Division team had already in place a monthly meeting practice and a monthly one-to-one catch up with the Managing Director.  We used these existing meeting practices to put in place commitment measurement.
    2. During regular meetings we asked that the commitment holder report if their commitment was failing.    We also asked the person to whom the commitment was being delivered whether they had any concerns about the delivery.  We facilitated discussions in either potential failure scenarios.

Develop Change Interventions:  We designed and co-facilitated a series of working sessions to design new requests and commitments. Working with the senior teams within the Forest and HR Division we helped identify areas within their operations where commitments would make a significant impact.  We helped the senior team craft requests to drive new actions to create more effective team based performance.

Individual Coaching:  We coached and mentored the Directors in both the Forest and HR Divisions and introducedand embedded Commitment Management concepts and practices within their daily work activity.  We applieda mixture of challenge and support to help participants craft better outcome driven requests to better challenge their teams to deliver more effectively. 

Workshops:  During our work with Coillte we conducted a series of working sessions in small teams to consider the building blocks of a renewed vision and action plans.  We co-facilitated a series of design workshops to bring the team together and design the commitments and plans using a commitment management.

Ennovate worked with 12 participants at the Director level within the Forest and HR Division in Coillte over a 4-month period, April through August 2015.  We made a series of commitments to the HR Director and the Forest Director, listed below. 

10 of 12 participants reported changing their work practices and this was validated by the Directors of the 2 divisions.  Our involvement came at a time of great change within Coillte and we are proud to have delivered the following;

  • Both Forest and HR Managing Directors are holding their teams accountable.
  • Results from their quarter performance are consistent with expectations.
  • Both Forest and HR Managing Directors are setting more ambitious goals.

In addition we are seeing progress towards the following outcomes:

  • Participants are competent in managing commitments hold each other accountable.
  • Most participants are cascading down to their team high standards of accountability based on commitment management.

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