Capacity for change
Big Business
Capacity for change
Capacity for change
Sole Trader

Capacity for change
A tool for thinking about how your business responds to change

The big idea

There is little point in having bright ideas about the future if your business or enterprise is not in a position to act on them. This tool has been developed from a number of big ideas in the organisational development field. It includes thinking from the likes of Henry Mintzberg, Peter Druker, Warner Burke and George Litwin. It is also supported by the experiences of a wide range of managers and leaders. To consider how your business or enterprise might take advantage of its future opportunities, you need to review and strengthen four key areas:

  1. Structure
  2. People
  3. Processes
  4. Culture 


The purpose of undertaking a capacity to change review is to give you confidence that you are building on the strengths of your business. To assess your capacity to move towards your vision for the future, there are a number of guiding principles under each of the four areas that you can use.


  • Your teams or departments are aligned with the core phases in your activities
  • You have teams of manageable sizes at all levels
  • Reporting lines and relationships are clear
  • You have short chains of control and direction
  • Managers delegate appropriately
  • Activities are undertaken at the appropriate levels according to accountability


  • Responsibilities are clearly aligned to the business’ or enterprise’s mission and goals
  • You have the appropriate range of management skills and experience
  • You use and build on the specialist strengths of your people
  • You use your team/s flexibly and appropriately
  • You provide opportunities for individual development and progression (where appropriate)
  • The enterprise has an environment that promotes effective team working


  • You have processes that provide close external relationships, for example with customers, audiences, suppliers, funders or investors
  • Your processes are regularly reviewed and improved
  • The enterprise has appropriate processes for effective internal communication
  • Your processes ensure value for money
  • Your processes ensure you are compliant with any regulatory requirements
  • Your processes are balanced in terms of their priority and contribution to developing the business or enterprise


  • Your business has a successful track record in implementing change
  • You are able to positively embrace change
  • You are able to identify and focus on the priorities for change

The Tool

The tool is based on a questionnaire to allow you to assess your business’ capacity to change. It should be completed individually by as wide a group of people as possible. It will take up to 30 minutes to complete. You will need to allow time to collate and compare the answers. It is most suitable for micro-businesses or SMEs but could be adapted for collaborations. If you are a sole trader, it might be useful if you are considering growing your business.