What can Lean and Six Sigma and Dilts’ Logical Levels of Change bring to effective change management?

By Elisabeth Goodman and Lucy Loh

This is the fifth and last blog in our series on “Enhancing Team Effectiveness in a time of change” based on our recent publication in Business Information Review(1), and other publications and seminars in progress.  We explore two last tools: Lean and Six Sigma in Change Management and Dilts’ Logical Levels of Change.  We also suggest some next steps for you to practice what you will have learnt, and ask whether you would be interested in some follow-up support, and if so, what form that might take.

In case you missed them, this is what we covered in our previous blogs

In our first blog (Enhancing team effectiveness in a time of change – an introduction), we described the challenges being faced by organisations, teams and individuals and the impact that these changes have on them.

Our second blog (Recognising reactions to change, and responding to them) explored how people (either as individuals or teams) respond to change and how to help them through their journeys in a positive way.

Our third blog (Tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change) introduced five more specific tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change.

Our fourth blog (Team development, pre-requisites for success and temperature checks: tools for effective change management) explored three of the tools: team development, pre-requisites for success and team temperature checks in more detail.

Lean / Six Sigma

The Lean and Six Sigma process improvement philosophies and tools can be extremely useful to a team undergoing change.  We have worked with organisations to help them develop strategies and implement change in an approach analogous to that described by Steven Spear(2):

  1. Identify the value to be delivered, and your team’s goals, in the context of your customers’ and other stakeholders’ expectations
  2. Adopt an end-to-end (cross-organisation) process orientation i.e. going beyond traditional silos to explore how to deliver customer value most effectively and efficiently
  3. Commit to identifying, solving and learning from problems
  4. Build capability within the team to perpetuate a culture of continuous improvement

Even short workshops around any one of these steps with a team undergoing change can already help them to be better equipped to deal with it.  We have worked with an academic library team preparing to centralise processes for books and periodicals that were previously decentralized across several college libraries.  An engagement with a pharmaceutical contract research organisation (CRO) has enabled it to engage people across the whole of its organisation, deliver real savings in cost and time, and embed this approach as a sustainable way of working.  You can read more about these case studies on our web site (RiverRhee Consulting case studies).

Dilts – Logical Levels of Change

This tool is one that can be used both as a diagnostic, and as a planning tool in a time of change.

Robert Dilts is a leading figure in the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) who recognised that it is important for team leaders to act at multiple levels to achieve change.  He developed the Logical Levels of change model, as a helpful way of understanding the elements of effective team performance(3).

Logical levels of change


The ‘Environment’ is outside the team: the place and time where and when the team works, the team’s customers or stakeholders, the physical layout of the work area.

Behaviour and capabilities

‘Behaviour’ consists of specific actions: what each team member does, says and thinks.  This will be the outward display of having successfully introduced new working practices and so it will also be useful to define the key expected behaviours for implementing a particular change.

‘Capabilities’  (or ‘competencies’) are skills, qualities and strategies, such as flexibility and adaptability.  They are consistent, automatic and habitual, are how work gets done in the team and will often need to be defined, taught and practiced in order to support change.

Performance management is an established process for managing goals for Behaviours and Capabilities in most organisations.

Values and beliefs

‘Values’ are what an individual or team holds to be important.  They act as the ‘why’: the emotional drivers for what a team member or the overall team does.  ‘Beliefs’ are what an individual or team holds to be true, and so influences how the person or team acts.

Values are critical: for most of us, they are key, unconscious influences on how we act.  The values demonstrated by the team leader are particularly important.  For example, a team leader who values harmony could act to reduce tension in the team.  In some circumstances, it could be more important that the team leader values achievement, and temporarily ‘parks’ an issue of tension in order to meet an important deadline.

Within the team, it is vital that the team leader manages a sensitive debate on the values which will be important for future team success, meeting the needs of its customers and stakeholders – not necessarily the values which the individual team members hold most strongly.

At a time of change, it is helpful for the team leader to ask all the members of the team to state their Beliefs about working in the team – and to facilitate a healthy debate about these.

Identity and purpose

‘Identity’ is how a team thinks about itself, the core beliefs and values that define it, and provide a sense of ‘who the team is’.  Healthcare professionals could have an identity as nurses, for example.

‘Purpose’ refers to the larger organisation of which the team is part.  It connects to a wider purpose – ‘for whom?’ or ‘what else?’  For healthcare professionals, their purpose could be to alleviate suffering or to provide care.

Using the Dilts model

The model helps the team to understand its status, and to make choices about what to do.  It has a natural hierarchy, and indicates where change is required in the team, to assist its effectiveness in the wider organisation.  Where the nature of the wider organisation has changed, and the role of the team has changed within it, then the team would work through all of the levels, from identity downwards, to consider what has changed and to redefine itself.

When introducing change in an organisation: our first thought might be to put up posters, or run training courses.  To achieve change, it’s tempting to focus activities on the lower levels of Dilts’ pyramid, because they are more ‘visible’, and easier to act on.  Organisation change, for example, (changing the organisation chart, reporting lines, which skills are located in which team), affecting the bottom three levels of the pyramid.  But change at these lower levels will not necessarily affect the higher levels, and we can both identify examples where large amounts of energy went into these activities at the lower levels but little into the identify and values of the new organisation, with poor results.

We can create more lasting and sustainable change, by working on purpose, identity, values and beliefs.  These higher levels in the pyramid are generally more ‘invisible’, harder to change and harder to assess because they address the thoughts and emotions of individuals. For lasting and sustainable change, we therefore need to consider the new purpose of the team, what the new identity would look, feel, and sound like, and what the values and beliefs would be to sustain that new purpose and identity.

It is worth significant effort to engage the organisation and its teams in this as much as is practically possible.  This is the way to change those thoughts and emotions, which will then motivate changes in capabilities and behaviours.   Training courses and posters could be developed which re-emphasised the changes in identity and values, while also developing the capabilities and behaviours needed.  Development of the environment to support the change would also honour the new identity and values.

Conclusions and suggested next steps for you & for further support

There are many drivers for change in today’s business world, and change brings challenges to teams, who are delivering services today and need to evolve to deliver differently tomorrow.

Fortunately, there are many well-established methods of assessing and developing team effectiveness, and our series of 5 blogs has covered several of them.

Now that you’ve read this, and perhaps some of our other blogs, what might you do differently?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Think about the changes that you are experiencing, either at work or at home.  Where are you on the change curve in relation to these?  What action(s) could you take to help you move through the change curve?
  2. If you are responsible for initiating or driving change, think about your personal or organisational context for change.  Is there a way of better articulating the associated purpose, identify, values and beliefs (i.e. as in the Dilts’ model)?
  3. If the change you are involved in has an impact on others, think about what they may be experiencing in the change curve and what might help them through it; use Lean and Six Sigma techniques (in this blog) to identify and engage all the stakeholders involved in an end-to-end perspective of the process
  4. If you are leading a team, or would like to support the team leader, consider the status of the team in terms of team development, and the prerequisites for team success, and engage the team members in building the (new) team
  5. Review the list of tools for organisational change and team effectiveness, and try at least one of them.

And finally, these blogs on organisational change and team effectiveness have achieved a record level of readership.  We’d like to offer further support and are considering webinars, e-books / workbooks, training courses additional to those that we already offer (see RiverRhee Consulting training and development).

Would you be interested in some further support?  What form would you like this support to take? Do let us know!


  1. Goodman, E and Loh, L. (2011) Organisational change: a critical challenge for team effectiveness.  Business Information Review, 28(4) 242-250
  2. Spear, Steven (2009) Chasing the Rabbit. How market leaders outdistance the competition and how great companies can catch up and win.  McGraw Hill
  3. O’Connor, Joseph (2001) NLP workbook.  London : Element

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management).

Lucy Loh is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Lucy Loh Consulting, a consultancy that helps businesses and organisations develop their business plans, and manage change in their organisations and teams to be able to deliver those plans.  She is also a RiverRhee Consulting Associate.  Lucy has 25 years’ experience in BioPharma, where she has held management roles in strategy development and all aspects of performance management, as well as extensive internal consulting.  Lucy has expertise and experience in organisation development, benefits management and in designing and leading business change. She is a certified Master Practitioner of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), which enhances her work in change management and individual coaching.  She is also an accredited trainer with the Institute of Leadership and Management for Strategic Leadership.

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