Rolling the DICE to predict the outcome

DIE

Back in 1992 a team from Boston Consulting Group set out to establish if they could determine what factors could be used to indicate the success or failure of change management programs in general[ sirkin2005hard  ].  They concluded that four “hard factors” were highly effective at predicting the outcome of the program. These hard factors were:

  • The Duration of the program, and specifically the amount of time between reviews of progress. Question: How often do formal project reviews take place? Score: 1 for less than two months, 2 for 2-4 months, 3 for 4-8 months and 4 if more than 8 months apart.
  • The Integrity of effectiveness of the individual or team leading the change which includes aspects of skills, motivation and time dedicated to the task. Question: How capable is the Leader and how strong are the team’s skills and motivation? Do they all have enough time to dedicate to the change initiative? Score: 1 if all these criteria are met and 4 if the team are lacking in all areas. Score 2 or 3 for capabilities in between.
  • The Commitment of two groups to the project: the senior management, C1, and the local employees, C2, affected by the change. Question 1: How often, consistently and urgently do Senior Managers communicate the need for change and have they allocated enough resources to the program. Score 1 for clear commitment, 2 or 3 for neutral approach and 4 for resistance or reluctance. Question 2: Do the employees involved in the change understand why it is happening and are they enthusiastic and supportive or anxious and resisting? Score 1 for eager adoption of the change, 2 for just willing or neutral, and3 or 4 for resisting change based on the level of reluctance.
  • The Effort required from employees over and above their existing workload. Question: How much extra effort must employees make to deliver the change and does this come on top of a heavy workload? Score: 1 if less than 10% incremental effort is required, 2 for 10 to 20%, 3 for 20 to 40% and 4 if over 40%.

These four hard measures can be easily recalled as they form the word DICE.

The Boson Consulting team then scored 225 change management initiatives in a range of organisations using the questions set out above.  By carrying out regression analysis on this data they were able to determine the relative importance of each factor in terms of the impact on the success of the program. They concluded that Integrity, I, and management commitment C1 where particularly strong and so their scores should be doubles when calculating a total DICE score, which is expressed as:

Since each value can be between 1 and 4, the best possible DICE score is 7 and the worst 28. The chart below plots the distribution of these 225 scores in relation to the degree of success of their change initiative. As can be seen, low scores correlate with successful outcomes, while high scores are associated with poor success.

The results of the BCG study show the link between the DICE score and outcome.

The results of the BCG study show the link between the DICE score and outcome.

Figure 62 The Boston Consulting analysis of 225 change management initiatives plotting the DICE scores in relation to the degree of success of the project. Numbers relate to the number of projects with scores rounded up to the nearest integer. Adapted by the author from The Hard Side of Change Management, Sirkin et al, Harvard Business Review 2005[ sirkin2005hard  ].

The Boston Consulting team observed that projects with a score of 14 or less are likely to achieve the majority of their intended outcomes (the “Win Zone”), while those with a score of more than 20 were very unlikely to achieve the desired change (The “Woe Zone”).  Score between 15 and 20 show a wide range of outcomes and so executives need to assess these projects carefully (the “Worry Zone”).  Over time, the Boston Group have decreased the lower boundary of the Woe Zone to 18 points, providing an earlier indication that the project outcome is no longer predictable.

In their paper the authors of this scoring system provide some practical examples of its application and they make the observation that DICE scores can be applied to individual projects or initiatives within a larger program. Thus site participation in a resource efficiency program can be evaluated using this method as well as individual projects (involving technology as well as behaviour).

The beauty of this approach is that it is simple and focuses attention on many of the practical aspects of change that will influence the outcome of a resource efficiency program. The authors stress however that there are many “soft” aspects of the program, such as culture, communication and attitudes that are also important – it is just that these are not so consistently important or easy to measure.  Another key benefit of this performance metric is that it is a Leading Indicator or a predictor of the program outcome, so can be applied early in a project to determine if corrective actions may be needed.

The resource efficiency Framework set out in my Book  will lead to a low DICE score if properly implemented.

5 Comments

  1. Is the logic the same for one change initiative assessed by multiple employees? I’d guess each person’s individual score would be plotted and the majority of the scores would determine the DICE assignment.

    Reply
    • Thanks Julian,

      Yes absolutely. These kind of scoring methods can also tell us about gaps in perception between cohorts (e.g. Senior Management may return a different score from shop-floor staff).

      I used this form of differential scoring with Maturity Matrices, as a means of initiating a dialog between different parts of an organisation.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the quick response. The 7-point and 4-point Likert scales and how they are scored make manipulation in Excel a bit confusing. It’s straight-forward if I use the online calculator. With the 7-point scale, each item in the online calculator would be scored 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4. The 4 point Likert scales would be 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively. I could have up to 200 potential responses. The easiest but most cumbersome approach would be to apply each individual response using the online calculator and divide the total responses by the number of respondents. Using Excel and the formula DICE = D + 2I + 2C1 + C2 + E wouldn’t directly give the same result without some additional manipulation of the formula that escapes me at the moment.

        Reply
  2. hank you for the quick response. The 7-point and 4-point Likert scales and how they are scored make manipulation in Excel a bit confusing. It’s straight-forward if I use the online calculator. With the 7-point scale, each item in the online calculator would be scored 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4. The 4 point Likert scales would be 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively. I could have up to 200 potential responses. The easiest but most cumbersome approach would be to apply each individual response using the online calculator and divide the total responses by the number of respondents. Using Excel and the formula DICE = D + 2I + 2C1 + C2 + E wouldn’t directly give the same result without some additional manipulation of the formula that escapes me at the moment.

    Reply
  3. I noticed the BCG online calculator is not available on the website I had bookmarked before. Was it removed from access?

    Reply

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