Change and Agile need to be closely intertwined in order to work
The Project Management landscape is changing quickly as companies increasingly combine (hybrid) Agile and Change Management. How do you intertwine them? Let us explore how.
Authors: Arne Bogaerts & Sonja Noben
In the context of Agile, leaders should always take into account that there are two layers of change. The first one? Moving your organization towards an agile mindset and way of working. Secondly, you have the change that comes along during your agile initiatives and projects. Both are important to consider. Prosci Research of Change Management and Agile shows that when the move to Agile was managed poorly, there was greater resistance to Agile overall.
Σ (Agile + Change Management) = Agile Change Management^2 Arne Bogaerts
Surf the (mini-)wave
In an Agile approach, change is frequent, and each of the changes creates only a tiny amount of change to business as usual. However, there is a need to be able to manage multiple waves of change. The frequency of change generated by Agile approaches means that the traditional change management activities have to speed up. Instead of creating a big-bang change tsunami, we create mini-waves of change to take place alongside the delivery of difference to the business. These mini-waves of change can only be achieved if the organization has a well-developed approach to guiding its workforce through a transition. Each of these mini-waves of change comprises key elements of the change process needed to support people through change.
Key Elements to manage this multiple mini-wave change process and align change management with agile ways of working:
Mimic your change actions in User Stories
Appeal to your Agile-purist colleagues by writing the change actions as bold but powerful persona statements (i.e. user stories). This way, they can also be included in the overall backlog for optimal integration.
Install Daily Stand-Ups
Daily Stand-Ups with all those working on the change come together. They briefly update each other on what they have done since the last stand-up and what they will deliver next. By including change management activities as persona statements, they get picked up as part of the work of a Sprint, so they are discussed at the Daily Stand-Ups. The meeting provides up to date information, ensuring that everyone knows what everyone else is working. It becomes easier to collaborate but also to identify and resolve dependencies, risks and issues. The meeting helps the team get things done and minimize the need to escalate to senior leaders.
Track progress and set priorities with Kanban Boards
To keep the change team members running, use a Kanban Board to demonstrate their progress. Kanban is a simple technique for visualizing the work involved in making change happen. There are three columns: To Do, In Progress, and Done. Each task is written on a sticky note, and these notes are moved from column to column as the work progresses.
Communicate often, small but with impact
To keep your stakeholders informed, provide them with short and bold messages on what they really want to know. Do not start with a monthly newsletter. Why not share a 60 seconds video update or share a tweet-style message from the program sponsor giving an update on what has been done and what is coming up next.
The change process is usually tough to execute and almost impossible without a foundation of business acumen skills. With agile, ensure that your change management team have a double degree in business acumen: Understanding your business and understanding how agile is applied within your organization. If not, then it is like playing the piano if you are an organist. It maybe looks similar, but your audience will for sure not like the outcome.