TAG Consulting

Lead Change With the 3-D Method


December 21, 2015

At TAG, we encourage leaders to use a simple but profound tool to introduce change and arrive at tough decisions while regulating stress. Why is this important?

Because effective leaders know that too much change too fast creates anxiety and resistance.

We introduce the 3-D Method because it allows leaders to introduce change in three well-regulated phases, one step at a time. The three steps are Dialogue, Discussion, and Decision.

3-D apples

In the Dialogue phase, people simply state their own opinions without feedback or interruption from others. The goal in this step is information-gathering, seeing where people stand, getting everything out on the table. If you are working with a group, it is simply going around the circle and letting everyone speak their opinion about the real issues facing the group.

Often in the Dialogue phase leaders are surprised. There are issues that prove to be important which no one was paying attention to before. Dialogue leads to deeper understanding and we often hear comments like this: “I’ve learned more about this issue in forty-five minutes than I have in ten years!”.

In the Discussion phase, participants are free to agree or disagree with each other. The goal is to identify the issues, clarify the competing values in the group, and provide possible scenarios and options.

This usually takes place in a separate meeting, often days after the Dialogue phase.

“Competing values” is a critically important concept here. Often when competing values surface around one issue, it becomes clear that the same values are creating conflict and resistance around other issues. The team is able to make connections that were previously obscured. There are ‘a-ha’ moments that are surprising and helpful.

The Decision phase occurs next. There will be conflict here, but it is usually less stark because the group has already processed through the issue in the Dialogue and Discussion phases. It’s important to insure at this point that the conversation remains objective and focused on organizational issues.

This is the phase where the leader earns his or her ‘pay’. At the end of this phase, the recognized and authorized leaders in the group make a decision, based on what they perceive is the right direction for the organization. It’s not about consensus decision-making at this point, though consensus can be nice!

Following the 3-D Method does not insure that stress and anxiety are eliminated entirely but that they are regulated and manageable. Everyone has had the opportunity to provide input in a safe way; everyone has been heard; competing values have been surfaced and honored.

Over many years, with clients in all of the sectors – Public, Private, and Social – we have found that the 3-D Method provides a safe forum where change can happen and tough decisions be made. Try it in your organization, and we would love to encourage and serve you along the way!