Change Management: The Agile Way
Growing as a company or individual can be a challenging endeavor. Failure is inevitable, and some obstacles can be overwhelming. That’s why it is important to have a framework that provides the structure and adaptability to push ideas forward. These are our keys to addressing any change management issues:
1. How to determine the direction we want to change
2. Motivating action
3. Analyzing progress
4. Doubling down or recalibrating
Based on our work with many companies to drive change management initiatives across their organization, this article will explore the framework we use to set and manage expectations, drive action, and understand the impact of our actions throughout the change management lifecycle.
Change Management: Decide on your dream state
Understanding a dream state sounds relatively easy. Close your eyes and think of a future where you are achieving your highest level of fulfillment. Now try and put that into words. Maybe it’s not as easy as we thought.
Furthermore, how does one navigate a scenario with many decisions makers, leaders, and influencers who have differing opinions of what this dream state should look like?
Open communication and thoughtful analysis.
For clarity, we recommend organizing strategy sessions with a diverse team of stakeholders to work through planning exercises and facilitate discussion.
Change Management: Analyze your current state
Imagine you are in Manhattan, trying to find Times Square. You want to know which way to walk to arrive in the shortest amount of time. How do you start?
Well, the first step is knowing exactly where you are, otherwise, you may find yourself lost and wandering aimlessly.
This is vital to the success of any change management project. It is not uncommon for people to act like our friends the ostrich and bury their heads in the sand, ignoring the frightening truth about their organization.
For us, it’s about diving head first into the reality of the situation so we can understand what we can improve and what is worth leaving as is for the moment.
Every organization has a human component that makes us inherently flawed. This is okay, the goal is progress, not perfection. Pretending everything is okay when it is not can be extremely harmful to an organization and its people.
Change Management: Build a backlog of top priorities
Remember it’s all about prioritization. To effectively manage change, we need to be very clear at establishing what is important. Most organizations do not have unlimited resources to tackle everything at once – so establishing a prioritized list of deliverables and having success there will create the momentum necessary to achieve substantial change.
To build a backlog, we utilize the Agile methodology and create user stories that help people define the results of the change they are implementing. These user stories outline the value of each deliverable, and the effort (velocity) required to bring it to life.
A common practice is to focus on the high value, low-velocity task first. The idea is they will drive immediate results.
User stories that require a lot of effort, and deliver low value should be scrutinized to determine how necessary they are to the future state.
For changes that bring a high level of value, but also require a lot of effort, breaking them down into smaller tasks can be a way to overcome fatigue and over-extending your team.
Change Management: Implement an iterative data-driven system
As an Agile developer and scrum master, my main practice is to build iteratively. In an agile sprint, the standard is to work deliverables into 2 to 4-week sprints for our team.
This sprint time helps teams focus on specific change management projects, without being bogged down by long term project deliverables. It is important to remember that sometimes team members have responsibilities outside the scrum team, and this needs to be factored into the sprint.
It is great when product owners and end users communicate throughout the sprint process to thoroughly explore the effect the change management initiatives are having on the team.
Avoid throwing too many changes at your team during the sprint – this can compromise the integrity of the agile methodology and leave everyone frustrated.
Once through a sprint, schedule some time to collect feedback from team members, and analyze KPI’s that will indicate the impact of each solution.
Change Management: Retrospective
Change management is tough, it takes a certain kind of team to dedicate themselves to growing and implementing change to grow as an organization.
We appreciate and respect the people in the organizations that drive purposeful action.