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The use of ALPs for change: Fearless change

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Fearless change – taking your people with you on the journey
APM Conference jointly organised by People SIG and Enabling change SIG
London, 8 March 2023

The use of ALPs for change
Trish Thurley and Christine Castle

Christine and Trish described how Active Listening Panels (ALPs) can be used as a part of a set of enquiry tools and techniques to better understand stakeholders needs and wants when designing a programme of change.

The aim of each ALP is to find out what is important to key stakeholders, and how this relates to any project or programme of change, and how your stakeholders feel about it. This helps to shape the right engagement, communications and interventions as the project proceeds.

They described how the design of this conference (Fearless change) had been informed by the use of ALPs as a part of consulting the People and Change SIG Committee to identify conference topics for the day.

-2 ALPs were held to discover the themes and topics relevant to the potential audience, and then confirm the final choice of agenda

There was an explanation as to how ALPs can change ‘Go out and tell’ (Goat) style communication into ‘Go out and listen’ (Goal) style communication, which is likely to be more successful in early engagement with project leaders in a positive way. It is designed to encourage ‘open and reflective’ questioning through demonstrable listening with an intent to build trust.

Christine and Trish showed a slide which illustrated how ALPs should be part of a series of engagements using different approaches. Initially 1-1 engagement was suggested when first designing a change, moving on to the use of ALPs, then Town Halls for the dissemination of wider messaging and finally the use of surveys and questionnaires to fine tune the changes.

Trish and Christine described how ALPs originated from the need to understand the bigger picture, as a part of a change ‘gap-analysis’. Used as a part of early engagement (1-1 or 1-few) ALPs help draw out the themes that can be used to identify the broader issues that should be addressed in the context of the specific change. As a framework and toolset, it makes consultation less daunting, and provides a script for engagement. The ALP principles are based on:

The use of pre-determined questions
No intent to find solutions at this stage
Being present just to listen

It has to be done in an advisory change without making any commitments or promises to what might change or how as a result of the consultation.

Christine and Trish described how the real power of the technique is that it provides opportunities to spot small interventions in the dialogue, that could make the change easier or more effective to implement.

Trish and Christine then demonstrated the ALP toolkit which is available to download on the APM website. There are also tools available here to promote ALPs.

APM Active Learning Panel - Explainer
APM Active Learning Panel - Internal Intelligence Briefing
APM Active Learning Panel - Attendance Pipeline
APM Active Learning Panel - Facilitation Guide and Question set
APM Active Listening Panel - Framework
APM Active Listening Panel - Best Practice Engagement
APM Active Listening Panel - Scoping Document
APM Active Listening Panel - Timeline

The ALP process was developed by the “ByYouForYou” charity, supporting Civil Servants, during the time that Christine was working there. The resource materials are made available to APM on a not-for-profit basis; the toolkit is not in the Members area of the APM website, it is publicly accessible.

Robert Blakemore
APM People SIG committee member


Read the conference overview and view other presentation reviews.


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