Working with organisations going through change… The delivery balancing act

Dials showing the delivery balancing act

Firstly, what do we mean by CHANGE?

We define organisations going through change to be undergoing one or some of the following:

  • Setting new organisational strategies / objectives and operating models e.g. pivoting from a fundraising to a service-led organisation
  • Instilling a new organisational culture that prioritises collaboration, transparency and learning
  • Transforming ways of working, processes and team structures to enable a new culture and therefore ways of working


With that in mind, we’re now hearing more of the following statements within briefs and yearly strategy meetings:

  • We want you to embed yourself within our team and utilise our resources
  • We’ve never done agile before… What does it mean and how do we do it?
  • We want to manage the digital product / campaign ourselves in the future – can you help us get it off the ground?


Working in a different way

Before we embark on a change-focused workstream with a client, there is one mantra we try to instil from the outset:

“Transformation and change programmes are a marathon, not a sprint” 

When we hear these statements, we approach working with organisations in a different way. These broadly fall into three areas:


  • Mindset

Establishing the right mindset within the project team. As we, as delivery leads, need to change and ensure that a change-related mindset is established from the beginning.


  • Tools

We need to ensure that the tools we’re using have a purpose, and that we’re adaptable if something isn’t working.


  • Delivery Modes

There is no one size fits all! It’s essential to find a balance between delivering, coaching and observing, then iterating on this as you learn. 

Finding this delivery balancing act, and establishing those soft and hard KPIs is the key area where establishing an alignment between Manifesto and our partners is essential to a successful partnership.


‘A balancing act…’

Back in May 2019, Neil Clark, Service Design Lead at Manifesto, attended the the Doers conference in Budapest. He saw a talk by Mauro Rego, who discussed the mixing desk, a visualisation tool, he uses to visualise delivery modes within his design studio. 

This engaging way of visualising the different types of delivery modes is an exciting way to bring to life what mode of delivery we’re working within, and ensure we have a shared expectation of outputs. 

Once a change assessment has been completed at pre-sales or ahead of project kick-off, we’ll think about the delivery modes, meaning we need to find the balance between delivery (of designs, code etc), process (explaining and getting buy-in for the process) and education (upskilling others to the point where they can deliver their own work).



As with all mixing desks, not all the dials can be set to maximum, as this will make a song sound terrible. So, if you’re in full delivery mode, the other two dials must be dialled down. Similarly, if you’re in full education mode, you can’t expect those you’re educating, or those conducting the education, to be churning out high quality deliverables because they’re focused on learning and teaching respectively.


How does this work in practice?

Since September 2018, we have collaborated with the University of Dundee to deliver against this problem statement:

We’re building a new digital platform… However, we want to use this as a platform to deliver cultural change around how to deliver web/digital projects’”

Both within the team and across the organisation, they wanted to be seen as the professionals; to get a reputation for delivering expertise and quality, to build confidence in what they’re delivering, to know what they deliver is great, and get into the habit of sharing with friends!

This means we needed to think slightly differently when working with them both in the short-term, but more importantly, how we adapted this way of working throughout the project life cycle to ensure we focused on making the team experts that have the confidence to deliver. 


Month 1-3: “We need you to deliver some stuff and prove the process to the team and stakeholders”

We’re in DELIVERY and PROCESS mode with a slither of EDUCATION. Going back to our KPI’s we’re now  focused on the harder KPI’s around outputs and ROI.


Months 4-6: “We’ve got the base product, now the team needs to start taking ownership”

We’re now in full EDUCATE and PROCESS mode with a slither of DELIVERY. We’re focused on the softer KPI’s where there’s an acceptance we can ask e.g. “Are you feeling more confident in your job?” rather than there being a hard measurement to follow.


Months 7-14: “We’re now running, but please don’t leave us to run alone”

We’re now split equally between EDUCATION mode and DELIVERY. The reasons for the middle ground is that we need to flex between delivery-changing nature of the requests. Expect the unexpected. The more you focus on one thing, the better it will turn out.

“We work as closely with Manifesto hundreds of miles away as we do with our own colleagues within Dundee.” 

– Product Owner, University of Dundee


Key takeaways:

The example given outlines a 14-month project; however, this tool can easily adapt itself to any length of project, and even for projects where there is just one delivery mode – as long as it unites the project team (both client and agency) as to what the delivery mode is and ensures all team members understand that.

At the outset of the project the key is to establish a shared understanding of the following:

  • We need to collaborate to find the balance between ‘delivery’ and ‘coaching’ from the start. And allow ourselves to flex!
  • We need to define both soft and hard KPI’s at each point of the project so that we’re clear on what success looks like.


Want to learn more?

2020 sees Louise Lai join as Transformation Director at Manifesto, to support not for profit organisations going through change and transformation projects. If your organisation is gearing up to embark on a change programme then please get in touch with the team, we’d love to discuss how we can partner with you and collaborate on the delivery of your change programme.

Don’t forget that we run our ‘Intro to agile’ training sessions at Manifesto HQ in Shoreditch, and with our team in Bristol. Sign up to our newsletter, to hear when the next session will be.

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