Skip to main content
UW Finance Transformation

Everything you need to know about change management can be learned by watching "Columbo"

 July 22, 2020

By:  Jeff Bishop, OCM Director, UW Finance Transformation
        Jason Kalivas, OCM Lead, UW Finance Transformation

There’s a lot to love about “Columbo,” the  absent-minded, working-class ‘70s TV detective played by actor Peter Falk. Columbo has a sort of effortless, rumpled charm that invites even the most guarded suspect to play along. He relies on the culprit’s expertise, you see. He invites them to explain, to be the expert, to tell him what they need. He shares their frustrations and gains their confidence by sharing just a little bit of himself.

Columbo gives his suspects space instead of taking it, guides a conversation instead of leading it. He’s bothered by the little things. And he always has “just one more thing” to ask  before he goes.

When the finale comes around to the how to catch ’em (since we already know the whodunit), all Columbo does is repeat back the story he heard. And the criminal? The criminal goes from haughty, proud and defiant -- to arrested!

That’s some pretty good change management.

Be Like Columbo

And while Columbo didn’t have a partner, change – like the kind planned for UW Finance Transformation (UWFT) -- can best come together when we’re all advocates. So, using lessons out of Columbo’s playbook, you too, can become a master of change.

Ask questions and work through the answers. Get curious about the little things. Pay attention to what you’re hearing. Put together a puzzle. As you do, here are some things worth asking yourself.

> How am I impacted?
> How will I understand what’s changing?
> What does it mean for me?

> What can I do?

Help bring others along the journey. As you start to ask your questions and discover the answers, it’ll be time to be Columbo in another way. Support the change by bringing people on that journey with you. Ask your peers and colleagues to share their expertise, to think through how they’ll be impacted by UWFT, to ask what the program means for them.

If you do it right, none of you will be like Columbo’s suspects – haughty, defiant (or arrested!). You’ll be like our charming rumpled detective, himself.

So how will UWFT help you crack the case?

The Evidence: UWFT's Change Management Strategy

To help bring you along the change journey and answer questions about what it means for you, our UWFT Organizational Change Management (OCM) team provides support in four main areas.


                                                                             OCM Strategy

In Change Readiness, we’ve already started to engage leadership across the UW enterprise to drive change messaging at the unit and department level.

In Impacts and Measurement, we’re in the process of identifying and capturing detailed changes to understand how the program will impact you in your department and individual role. This impact gathering will inform how we communicate and provide training. Once completed at the end of October 2020, we’ll then be able to begin communicating the coming changes.

The key is engaging you where you are. One of OCM’s key change readiness approaches is our Change Champion Network (CCN). The CCN is made up of people where you are -- within your unit. They serve as an extension of the central OCM team, act as grassroots support and change advocates and perform OCM activities in your unit and department.

The following shows how the network supports change:

                                                           Change Champion Network Support Flow


There are three levels to the CCN, as detailed below. We’ve already launched the Unit Readiness Lead level and will be launching the Change Agent level this fall. They’re all critical to the success of the UWFT program as they drive change adoption at the unit level.

                                                                   Change Champion Structure


As the program continues, the CCN members will engage you where you are and support you throughout our transformation.

Oh, and “just one more thing” . . . like Columbo, it’s okay to be bothered by the little things and to ask questions as you move along your change journey. If you have questions or feedback, drop us a clue at

ICYMI: Read more about OCM and the CCN in the latest newsletter (UW login req’d)

Blog Topic: