DICE Framework

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This wiki article presents the DICE Framework and goes into its details and how to use it. Creating successful change is increasingly becoming a factor in the competitive landscape. However, a survey conducted by McKinsey shows that 70% of the transformation efforts fails to reach the intended results [1]. The DICE Framework is a tool that greatly can help an organization to realise a successful change project and to assessing and managing risks. In 1992, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) studied an initial 225 different companies and found a distinct connection on the outcome, regardless of success or failure [2]. The connection lies in the four elements; Duration, Integrity, Commitment and Effort, also called hard factors. The four elements in DICE makes up a framework, which is a formula for managers to calculate the chance of success for a change project. To use the DICE Framework, the different elements has be be accessed and evaluated according to a set of questions. Based on numerical answers, a DICE score can be calculated, which states how likely a project or change is to be successful. The DICE Framework can be used throughout a project to identify areas that needs attention, but can also be used to administer a portfolio of different projects to determine where managers need to put their focus. The framework gives the managers the opportunity to worry about the right things, instead of issues that are less important. If managers have scored differently on the same DICE framework, dialogue is triggered and the framework provides a common platform for discussion. The article provides a real-life case example, and will discuss the limitations of the DICE framework. Lastly, two other methods will be mentioned, whereas one is an alternative method for assessing a change project’s chance of success, where the other one is a risk evaluation tool.

Big Idea

Figure 1. DICE Framework illustrated by four sided dices

70% of all transformation efforts fail to reach the intended result. A conclusion McKinsey reached when they did a survey in 2008 of 3,199 executives around the world [1]. In an ever growing world, it has increasingly been a factor to be able to deliver successful change projects. As BCG researched elements that contributed to projects success, they came to understand a connection, which they later combined into the DICE Framework. They tried calculating a score based on the elements with their past change projects. A distinct result was observed, every project could be put into one of the three categories, Win, Worry and Woe [2]. The initial study was conducted on 225 companies in 1994, and eleven years later, BCG could conclude that the correlation still held and that no other elements had predicted outcomes better [2]. The DICE elements are called hard factors because they can influence the outcome of a change project greatly. This includes their abilities to be measured directly or indirectly, they are easy to communicate and they can be influenced quickly [3]. Soft factors are commonly reported as motivation, leadership and culture [3]. As opposed to the hard factors, the soft factors are more likely to be influenced by history, tradition or culture and are therefore often harder to influence and get reliable data on. Sirkin et al. argues that the hard factors are crucial, and that if companies does not consider them first, change projects will fail before the soft factors, comes into play [2]. Bóna et al. agrees in this statement, who have studied the effect of hard and soft factors on companies [4].

DICE Elements

Tonnquist mentions the four elements, Duration, Integrity, Commitment and Effort, and provides guidelines for each of them. [5]


The first element, Duration, is a common element to worry about in a project or change. Many assumes that the length of a project or change is related to the risk of said project or change to fail. The longer the project, the bigger risk of failure. However, studies have shown that it is not about the length of the project, but the frequency of the reviews conducted during the project phase. To make sure that a project is on plan, weekly or monthly reviews are usually necessary. The risk of a project or change failing, is higher if the reviews are too infrequently, which can happen if the project or change is very complex. Scheduling reviews and measuring milestones will greatly increase the odds of the project staying on its path.


The second element, Integrity, is the element where the company can rely on the skills and motivation of its managers and employees to successfully execute a project or change. Companies with successful project or change programs, all have employees who are willing to do the routine operational tasks. This willingness is often brought into the projects creating a better environment for the project or change. In projects it is also important to have managers and employees who are cohesive and skillful, since projects often brings various tasks and activities.


The third element, Commitment, is important for a project or change success. All members of the team should commit all their time on the project, or the necessary time if the project is to be worked on besides normal day to day routines. If the project is besides normal day to day routines it is important to schedule the time, so the project is not left out. Likewise the managers have to show support and acknowledge the team members might have the project as a secondary task. The managers must also communicate in a way that leaves no doubt. Often it happens that the communication is misinterpreted, which can cause a wrong project prioritization that can cause conflicts inside the team. Senior management must always be ready to show support for the project and communicate the purpose of it.


The fourth element, Effort, is how much effort an employee puts into the project. Often it happens when senior management starts a project, they do not consider the employee's daily operational tasks, which can cause the employees workload to increase. More than a 10% increase in workload is not recommended. The result can be that the employees are forced to make compromise between the project or daily operational tasks, thus decreasing the quality of the performed work in one or another. Overwork can also cause stress that is bad in the long run. This can cause conflicts in the team and the morale will drop. The senior management has to take responsibility for recruiting employees for the project and to make sure the workload does not increase more than what is recommended.

Understanding the framework

Figure 2. DICE Framework Chart

Calculating the score

By asking executives and managers about the four elements of the DICE Framework (Table 1.), companies can determine if a project or change will be successful [2]. Each element has to be graded numerically from a scale from 1 to 4 where fractions can be used. The score of 1 suggests that the element will contribute highly to the success of the project or change, where the score of 4 suggests that it is very unlikely to contribute positively.

Table 1. DICE framework questions and scoring

Question Table.png

Combining the score

After the different elements with their questions have been answered, senior management can calculate a DICE score. The formula follows [2]:

DICEscore = D + (2 * I) + (2 * C1) + C2 + E

With scores ranging from 1 to 4, then a total range of score can vary between 7 and 28. A score between 7 and 14 is called to Win Zone, this is where the project or change is likely to succeed. A score between 14 and 17 is called the Worry Zone, this is where the risks are increasing, where a higher score has higher risks. A score above 17 is called the Woe Zone, this is where the project is excessively risky, where a score above 19 is considered unlikely to be successfully. The DICE framework chart shows the different zones (Figure 2.). BCG created the outline of the chart by mapping all the analysed DICE scores and creating a frame around it. The DICE framework chart can be used by the company to map all past project scores, to keep track of successful and unsuccessful change projects in the company. The company can as well compare calculated scores from current projects to assess them with older projects to see if it is on the right track.


The DICE Framework can be used for different purposes, Sirkin et. al. mentions the ability to track projects, manage portfolios of projects and force conversations [2]:

Track projects

Senior management often uses spreadsheet version of the DICE Framework to calculate the DICE Score. In the same document, the score can be compared to scores from older projects or past scores from same project. The DICE Score is frequently used by the senior management to look for early warning signals that a project or change is in problems. By frequently doing reviews of the ongoing project or change, herein using the DICE Framework, problems are faster to recognize and react on. If suddenly the DICE Score from a review is higher than in the past, senior management can reconfigure the teams and allocate additional resources among other to get project back on track. Senior management can in addition use the framework across multiple projects, to establish which project to worry about. If there is project that shows problems, senior management can redistribute resources from healthier projects to less healthier projects, if the healthier projects allows it. Another alternative could be to postpone the project to improve it, so it can reach its objectives.

Manage portfolios of projects

Especially during large change programs, companies tend to initiate many projects to reach the overarching objectives. Senior management have to be careful when managing the portfolio of projects to avoid projects taking away attention and resources from other projects. For example might senior management allocate the best employees for sponsored projects or give high attention for personal favored projects. By using the DICE Framework on the portfolio of projects, before initiation, they can identify the projects that can become problems later.

A case example about an Australian manufacturer highlights the importance of a good portfolio management [2]. They had 40 different change projects ongoing to increase profitability in their company, where some of the project had greater financial implications that others. The general manager called for a a meeting, using the DICE Framework with both project leaders and senior management to identify the different scores. They identified five projects to be the most promising, well into the Win Zone, and highlighted that they should wait initiating those projects before some of the less promising projects, in the Worry Zone, had gained the necessary attention and resources so they as well could be moved into the Win Zone. Before the initiation of any projects, the company had now the opportunity of correctly address the team configurations, resource allocations and where the senior management should put their attention. Some projects happened to remain in the Worry Zone, but closely monitored for improved score.

Force conversation

Depending on the senior manager that calculates the DICE Score, different outcomes can arise. This can happen because the senior managers sees the healthiness of a project differently or they themselves are informed differently or questionably. This will in most cases force conversations between senior management, trying to align themselves with each other. The conversation can spark questions such as “why is the project seen differently?” and “what can be agreed on to make sure the project is successful?”. The questions asked during the scoring of DICE can as well be used as a framework of discussion and is ideal to create a common language. The common language is especially useful when the conversations are for large change programs covering multiple departments across borders, but also when the reviews are conducted on different levels of the company, from top management to the managers on the workshop floor.

Case Example

A medium sized company in Poland were running a software project, consisting of 8 team members. The task was to change a B2C platform to make it up to date [6]. Underway in the 2 years timeframe the company shifted to a more agile structure. By using the DICE framework they wanted to confirm whether changing to a more agile structure actually increases the project's chance for success. Before the change, (D) the team lacked rhythm and there were no notion of iterations. (I) The team leader assigned was a sound programmer who showed lack of social skills and a will to innovate. (C1) Management assigned too few resources because they felt that some changes could be done faster despite what the programmers had said. (C2) Likewise, the team usually would be resistant over changes to their project, because it often would result in something to break in the B2C platform. (E) The effort the team had to provide was that of a normal project, upfront design followed up by coding, testing and bug-fixing. The different scores where put into the DICE formula and calculated:

DICEscore = D + (2 * I) + (2 * C1) + C2 + E = 2 + (2*3) + (2*3) + 3 + 3 = 20

Before the change to a more agile structure, the change project of the B2C platform had an extreme risk of failure with a total score of 20 putting it in the Woe Zone. If the change to a more agile structure had not had happened, it was very likely that the project would have failed.

After the agile change, (D) the team had 1-2 weeks iterations with reviews. (I) A new team leader was assigned who was capable and eager to implement ideas. The team also got better at self-organising. (C1) Changes to the B2C platform could be done faster and with fewer bugs. Management were therefore more supportive to provide resources. (C2) Changes was also met with less resistance since refactoring became easier. (E) The team's workload decreased thus freeing up time. The agile structure also decreased the time of bug fixing. The resulted DICE score was:

DICEscore = D + (2 * I) + (2 * C1) + C2 + E = 1 + (2*2) + (2*2) + 1 + 2 = 12

After the change, the project moved to the Win Zone and the likelihood of success highly increased. Since the project was a success in the end, the framework is now used as a method to convince the top management to create further changes inside the company.


The DICE Framework makes an effort to measure projects before and after initiation in a more objectively way. The DICE utilizes hard factors to calculate a score, omitting soft factors that could have bigger influence on the success of a project. Soft factors such as motivation, culture and vision can be harder to measure objectively. The DICE Framework could in such cases be highly misleading.

The scoring in the DICE Framework are mostly subjective, which can make senior management undershoot or overshoot the scoring, making the chance of success for the project seem higher or lower. This could lead to wrong decisions when allocating resources, employees or attention among different projects.

The scoring is subjective, and therefore can different managers score differently on the DICE Framework, even the same manager could in principle score differently depending on the time of day or if they have been influenced by external personal influence, both good and bad. The reproducibility is therefore hard to create between different managers.

The DICE Framework is a simple method to evaluate risks in projects, but the simplicity of it makes managers look for other methods seeking more complex answers. This, however, can cause the managers to overlook the obvious and make wrong compromises [2]. The method is as well only providing the managers with a guidance on how to identify and assess the four elements of DICE in a project, but does not give any guidance on what to do to move the project(s) from the Woe or Worry Zone to the Win Zone. The managers have to figure that out themselves. Some managers seeks the whole package [7], thus making the DICE Framework come out short.

Sirkin notes that the DICE Framework is suited best for large-scale transformations that cut through departments and across borders. It can therefore be argued whether it will work sufficiently in small companies with few projects [2]. A criticism of the DICE Framework is that it does not take into consideration the impact, benefit or urgency the project will have on the company, when it is used to prioritize or compare projects or programs. The method is focused on the chance a project have to succeed and not the payoff it gives [8].

Other Methods

In the following section, another method for evaluating the chance of success for change projects is shown, called the 'formula for change'. Since the DICE framework can be used as a method to assess and manage risks in change projects, a quick look at the qualitative risk analysis tool is as well made.

Formula for Change

The ‘formula for change’ is another method to calculate a change project’s success. Originally created by David Gleicher and later published by David Beckhard in 1975 [9]. The formula stems from the idea that change happens when there is a dissatisfaction with the status quo. Therefore the original formulation of the formula came from a combined felt need for change that surpassed the resistance to change.

C = (A x B x D) > R


C = Change

A = Level of dissatisfaction with current state

B = Desirability of the proposed future state

D = Clarity of what to do next

R = Resistance to change

A, B and D must be higher than R for the change project to be successful. In 1992 the formula was revised by Dannemiller to [10]:

D x V x F > R

This formula is sometimes written as a ratio, where a higher score means better [8].


Ps: Chance of success

D: Degree of dissatisfaction with current situation

V: Compelling vision for new state

F: Effectiveness of the first steps

R: Resistance to change

The ‘formula of change’, also known as Beckhard’s Formula, is more conceptual and is harder to use practically, where the DICE formula evaluates elements on the same scale, thereby allowing for creating ranges of scores that can be classified upfront. Beckhard’s formula leaves the manager to interpret the results [8]. The narrow selection of factors in Bechard’s formula, and that only one denominator is used, makes the formula risky to use, since only resistance to change can lower the result of success and not other factors such as resources or available employees.

Other Risk Evaluating Tool - Qualitative Risk Analysis

Qualitative Risk Analysis is a method for prioritizing risks based on the probability of occurring and the impact it will make if it occurs [11]. The qualitative risk analysis uses the risk Impact vs. Probability matrix (Figure 3.) to plot risks into. By using a likelihood scale (Table 2.) and an impact scale (Table 3.), the managers can rate the different risks that can face the project and develop plan how to avoid, transfer, mitigate or accept the risks. Both Likelihood and Impact are rated on a scale from 1 to 5, and then multiplied to calculate a risk value. Depending on the risks, senior management can allocate more resources, attention or employees to avoid, transfer or mitigate the risks.

Figure 3. Impact vs. Probability Matrix

Likelihood and Impact Scale.png

Annotated Bibliography

1. Sirkin, H.L., Keenan, P., Jackson, A. "The Hard Side of Change Management", Harvard Business Review

Managing change is rough, and few agrees on how to do it. Most experts are focused on the “soft” issues, but focusing on those will not bring change. Companies also need to consider the “hard” factors. The authors studied 225 companies and found a correlation between successful versus failure in four hard factors, which they called DICE: Duration, Integrity, Commitment and Effort. The framework is a formula for calculating a change projects chance of success. A set of questions helps to calculate a score for each of the four factors. The framework can be used to track projects, manage portfolios and force conversations.

2. Uspenskiy, Dmitry. "Change Management Approach for Enterprise Transformation and Improvement", 'Massachusetts Institute of Technologyogy

Organizations strives to achieve competitive advantage by using more advanced processes, systems and practices. Academics, industries and consulting firms have developed a variety of models, framework and roadmaps to aid company improvement activities and initiatives. However, the change management landscape remains vague. An analysis of the leading change models is conducted and common theme is identified. At last an alternative organizational model is proposed, called “BLUE-over-RED”, using parts of the DICE framework as inspiration and other change management tools and methods.

3. Maurer, Rick. "Beyond the Wall of Resistance: Why 70% of All Changes Still Fail--and What you Can Do About It", 'Bard Press, 2010. ISBN 1885167725

Companies with resistance to change dies. Change is part of the daily life in a company, plans for cutting costs, restructuring, new technologies, quality improvements, new products or services. Resistance have shown over and over again to cripple companies. Beyond the Wall of Resistance provides real-world guidelines for frustrated managers, on how stay competitive by building support for change. Cases studies provides practical approaches, to show how to deal with resistance, while retaining strong working relationships.

4. Fry, Ronald. "Richard Beckhard: The Formulator of Organization Change", 'Palgrave Handbook of Organizational Change Thinkers

Richard Beckhard, recognized as one of the founders and pioneers in organization development. As an educator, he teamed up with Douglas McGregor, Warren Bennis, and Edgar Schein to develop MIT’s department of organization studies. Beckhard is known for his contribution with ‘the change formula’, which is also known as ‘Beckhard's formula’. The article talks about how Beckhard came to be known, and describes his contributions to change management, herein Beckhard’s formula.

5. Madeyski, L., Biela, W. "Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming", 'Springer, pp 141-144, 2017. ISBN 3540731008

Change to software processes in an organization is a challenge. The author have carried out a process change and then reflected on its results. The reflections shows a need for principles and practices that would help in establishing an agile structure. One of the methods is by using the DICE framework and Joint Engagement of managers and developers. The cases provided are real-world change processes happened in Poland.

6. Keenan, P., Mingardon, S., Bickford, J., Schrey, T., Clancy, T., Doust, Annabel. "How to Ensure Your Change Efforts Stay on Track", 'Boston Consulting Group, 2017.

“No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy”, a claim by Helmuth von Moltke in the 19th century. The same holds true for change management. There is however a solution, by applying three tools, roadmap, DICE framework and a rigor test, companies can develop capabilities and confidence to manage risk and interdependencies. The article will mainly focus on the roadmap and the rigor test. The roadmap will tell the story of each initiative, where the rigor test will ensure that the company have included all necessary components into the roadmap.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Aiken, c., Keller, S.. "The irrational side of change management", 'McKinsey, 2009. Accessed on 02 October 2017.'
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Sirkin, H.L., Keenan, P., Jackson, A. "The Hard Side of Change Management", Harvard Business Review, 2005. Retrieved on 02 October 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Albach, H., Meffert, H., Pinkwart, A., Reichwald R. "Management of Permanent Change", pp. 180-181 Springer, 2015. ISBN 9783658050139
  4. Bóna, P., Lippert, R. "The Effect of Hard and Soft Factors on the Success of a Company", pp. 15-16 University of Pannonia, 2015. Retrieved on 02 October 2017
  5. Tonnquist, Bo (2009). Project Management - a complete guide, pp. 280-281. Hans Reitzels Forlag. ISBN 9788776757281.
  6. Madeyski, L., Biela, W. "Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming", pp. 141-144 'Springer', 2017. ISBN 3540731008. Retrieved on 02 October 2017.
  7. Burnes, Bernard (2015). Perspectives on Change: What Academics, Consultants and Managers Really Think About Change, no pagination. Routledge. ISBN 9781317398011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Uspenskiy, Dmitry. "Change Management Approach for Enterprise Transformation and Improvement", pp. 44-51, 'Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013. Retrieved on 02 October 2017.
  9. Fry, Ronald. "Richard Beckhard: The Formulator of Organization Change", 'Palgrave Handbook of Organizational Change Thinkers, 2017. Retrieved on 02 October 2017.
  10. Latham, John. "Leading Change Formula Revisited", 'John Latham, 2017. Accessed on 02 October 2017.
  11. Quality and Patient Safety Directorate. "Risk Assessment Tool and Guidance", 'Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte Health Service Executive, 2013. Retrieved on 02 October 2017.
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