Intentional Change Theory – Summary

I had attended the Regional Scrum Gathering South Asia in Bangalore last week – and one of the sessions was on Coaching on Change which was of interest to me.   The organization in question, had used Intentional Change Theory as the model for Agile transformation.

Intentional Change Theory

This is a framework developed by Richard Boyatzis, a Professor at the Case Western University. As per the theory,   one can use to create a change plan that is tailored to you – with your own unique strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, dreams, and support networks.

The theory talks of five common-sense steps that you need to follow if you want to make a lasting change within yourself. These are:

  • Discover your ideal self.
  • Discover your real self.
  • Create your learning agenda.
  • Experiment with and practice new habits.
  • Get support.

1. Discover your ideal self 

  • Have a clear sense of what you’d like to achieve – your personal vision.  Where would you like to be in future?
  • Identify your hopes and aspirations, and clarify them into short and long-term goals
  • Pay attention to what excites you. Discard goals that you don’t feel enthusiastic about, and keep exploring until you find ones that you’d truly like to achieve.
  • Write down all of your dreams, however far-fetched they seem. It’s helpful to see all of your hopes and aspirations, even if you later decide that some of them are not immediately achievable.
  • Think about what kind of person you’d like to be. Be specific: would you like to have more empathy? Arrive at work with more energy? Have more patience?
  • If you maintain a Personal Learning Plan or a Personal Diary, write those down in clear detail.

2. Discover your real self

  • Your next step is to define your real self – the person you are right now
  • Start by defining your own strengths and weaknesses. Use tools such as the Strengths Finder, Personal SWOT Analysis and Myers-Briggs to uncover more about your real self.
  • Alternatively, start with a simple list. What do you like most about yourself? What needs to change? Explore your current attitudes, assumptions, behaviours, and habits.
  • Ask for feedback  – from family, friends, colleagues, and your boss, explaining that you’d like their opinion on your strengths  and weaknesses, so that you can work on these.

3. Create your learning agenda

  • Define what you need to do to move from your current self to your ideal self. Who can help you along this path? What resources do you need? Brainstorm  the ways that you can access the information or training you need.
  • Identify your learning style.   When you know this, you can learn more effectively – both on your own and in a group.
  • Find a mentor or coach who can help you become your ideal self. This person might be a work colleague, friend, business associate, or professional coach.
  • Focus on developing your strengths
  • Make sure these goals are SMART

4. Experiment with and practice new habits

  • Practice will help you turn the changes you’ve made into new habits – to reinforce the changes you’ve made.
  • This step is also about experimenting – that is, finding stimulating ways to learn – and then testing your new knowledge, skills, or attitudes and move towards mastery.

5. Get support

  • It is important to get support from friends, family, colleagues, and the community can encourage us to see through challenging times.
  • Share your learning agenda, and have them keep a tab on your progress as you move forward.


So, how does this compare to the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options and Will) model of Sir John Whitmore,  FUEL (Frame the conversation, Understand the Current state, Explore the Desired state and Layout a Success plan) of John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett,  the PrOpER (Problem, Options ,Experiment, Review) model of  Rachel Davies or David Rock’s CREATE mode (Current Reality, Explore Alternatives, Tap their Energy) ?



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