Iraq Inquiry - Seen From a Change Management Perspective

by Stephen Warrilow

The latest Iraq Inquiry was instigated by the UK Government under the chairmanship of Sir John Chilcot and comprised committee members with long and distinguished careers who are Privy Counsellors, and “are highly experienced at asking questions to uncover and establish the truth.” (Source: Iraq Inquiry website)

The terms of reference of the Inquiry which was launched in July 2009, are to examine the United Kingdom's involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish as accurately and reliably as possible what happened, and to identify lessons that can be learned.” (Source: Iraq Inquiry website)

It has been interesting to see a succession of former Ministers of State, diplomats, intelligence heads and recently former Prime Minister Tony Blair giving evidence and each offering his or her own perspectives and justifications for their actions.

In defence of his decision to commit the UK alongside the US to a war in Iraq Mr Blair said that his decision was based on:

# A post 9/11 reassessment of the risk posed by Saddam Hussein

# Blair’s own firm belief of the risks that Saddam might pose in future

# Blair’s belief there was no direct connection between al-Qa'ida and the Iraq regime

# Blair’s “judgement”

Given that the invasion of another sovereign state with the intention of regime change can surely be regarded as a change management initiative of the highest magnitude, in my view it can quite reasonably be seen and evaluated through the lens of a change management perspective.

It would be very interesting to see what the Inquiry discovered about how “decisions were made” if Sir John had pursued the following lines of inquiry:

So Mr Blair, we want to ask you about your force field analysis as you considered the post 9/11 scenario and the case for regime change management in Iraq, and as you assessed the “dynamic balance” of forces working in opposite directions in that situation could you tell the Inquiry what your response was to each of these questions and thus the basis of your judgment to be party to the invasion of Iraq?

- Where are we now?
- Where do we want to be?
- What will happen if we don’t get there?
- What are forces or drivers for this change?
- What are the forces or drivers against this change?
- What are the strongest forces for and against change?
- Is change viable?
- What will be the impact of changing and not changing?

Now Mr Blair, we would like to hear about the details and results of your pre-programme planning analysis as one of the key early parts of your change management process. Did you assemble a range of experts on the region including expatriate Iraqis?

Firstly we would like to hear about your “Cultural Analysis”, in other words how you defined a cultural framework for the country and identified all of the significant subcultures within the country that would assist or resist progress towards the mission objectives; that looked at power structures, organisation structures, beliefs, behaviours, environments etc; key issues and areas of impact – and all within each sub-culture?

Then we would like to hear how you moved onto to the second stage of this analysis - the “Cultural Mapping” - where you mapped in detail the new cultural framework of how the country will look when you have achieved your mission objectives.

Now we would like to hear about your “Gap Analysis” where you plotted the positions of all cultural entities pre and post your planned invasion. Could you share with the Inquiry your findings from this cultural gap analysis? For example what gaps and differences between pre and post invasion actually were identified, and as you looked closely at these gaps what obvious steps, tasks and core processes were identified as necessary to close those gaps?

What were the issues that were identified for each step on the critical path and that formed the dependency for progress for each step along that path?

Mr Blair, having concluded your pre-invasion-programme-planning exercise, could you share with the Inquiry your “ Blueprint” for the changed post-regime-change Iraq?

Just to clarify our terms Mr Blair, we describe the “Blueprint” as a clear, defined documentation of the changed Iraq - after the completion of your invasion and regime change programme and the delivery of the benefits of that programme. In other words – can you describe your detailed defined documentation of “where we want to be” in Iraq and that you described to us in the Pre Programme Review and Planning process?

In summary the Inquiry is asking you precisely: how, where, when and why your Blueprint envisaged that the changed Iraq would be different?

Now let’s move on to “Benefit Analysis and Management”. Mr Blair, your Blueprint for the changed Iraq must have included a number of key invasion-regime-change benefits. So, as you planned and created your Iraq invasion-regime-change programme, you must have known with pristine clarity how it was going to benefit Iraq? So Mr Blair, can you tell the Inquiry in terms of your planning assessment:

# Precisely what each intended benefit is?
# What differences will be noticeable before and after?
# Exactly where in the new Iraq it will arise?
# How will it be measured?

Can you share with the Inquiry what new capabilities to Iraq the specific projects in your Iraq invasion-regime-change programme were going to deliver (and from which these benefits would be derived)?

Can you share with the Inquiry your processes and plans for the management and monitoring of those processes key for ensuring that Iraq actually did benefit from the planned invasion-regime-change programme?

Moving on, Mr Blair, can you explain to the Inquiry the outcome of your “Stakeholder Mapping and Analysis” where you reviewed all of the people, entities and groups who were going to be impacted by the Iraq invasion-regime-change programme and how you assessed and documented those impacts and your plans to communicate and mitigate those impacts?

Mr Blair, is the Inquiry correct in understanding that your Iraq invasion-regime-change management programme only consisted of a communication strategy?

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