This website uses cookies. More informationDon't show message again

Impartial observation

Impartial observation: What is it, how do you apply it, and why is it so essential in change processes?

These were the key questions addressed at a September 27 workshop on “Impartial observation in change processes”. The event was attended by change professionals including CI (Continuous Improvement) facilitators and HR business partners whose everyday responsibilities include developing teams and influencing behavior.

Impartial observation. We’ve learned from ample experience that it’s not as simple as it seems. Just about anyone who is engaged in an observation will make an interpretation of what he or she sees and form an opinion. We’ve practiced by first zooming in to gather the facts and observations so that it is possible to subsequently ask, “What can I learn from this? What linkages are present that are most likely to lead to the desired changes, and how can we best take advantage of them?” 

Using a ladder developed by Ben Tiggelaar, it is possible to identify very practically and concretely what OBJECTIVE you wish to achieve and what concrete BEHAVIOR is associated with the objective, as well as at least three SUPPORT interventions you can undertake in order to encourage the changes in such a way that the efforts contribute to the achievement of the desired objective.

Workshop participants also learned, using a number of models, how to take “snapshots” of the current situation at various levels: the organization, the team, and key players and stakeholders.
- Organization: What are the most important goals to be reached and what is required in terms of organization, guidance, and personnel? Where in the development process does the organization find itself at present? 
- Team: Benchmarking the teams against the organization of top teams. Is the result clear and does everyone involved fully assume his or her responsibility? Is there a basic level of trust and mutual commitment? How does the team deal with conflict?
- IIndividual key players and stakeholders: What are their roles and responsibilities and how are they positioned with respect to their personal interests. What approach is (or isn’t) effective with respect to which individuals?
When the participants consciously stepped back and took a snapshot of their own organizations, as well as a moment to consider the objective reality of their own situations, they discovered new connections that enabled them, as facilitators, to choose appropriate approaches.

Experiences of the participants:

“I have gained concrete knowledge and experiences that I can use immediately.”
“Logical and enlightening in terms of cohesiveness and applicability of the models”
“Wonderful recognition and exchange of new ideas within the Community”
“Useful reference material which will undoubtedly come in handy in the future”  

The enthusiastic contributions of all participants were key in ensuring a valuable and enjoyable afternoon that all can apply on a daily basis. We look forward to the next meeting of the Facilitator Community!

Would you also like to share knowledge and experience and gain new skills in the field of Change Management and Continuous Improvement? Please contact Martijn Cazemier ( and/or Arianne van Tongeren (

Publish date 3 October 2018