Change Management in an Agile Environment
By Helen Franklin Change Manager – Vodafone
If you’re new to the idea of change management, or you’ve never really understood what it is, it’s most simply defined as “managing the people side of change”. It’s a simple definition of something that can be pretty complex and messy in real life. In a given day our change managers can work on everything from gaining the buy-in of senior leaders to a controversial solution, to finding creative ways to make difficult changes exciting and engaging for the people in our companies.
We have a number of change managers working with our LPS customers today, in industries as diverse as telco, financial services, and logistics. We also work today on both waterfall and Agile programmes, as well as programmes with one foot in each camp!
In March I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Las Vegas. I was able to attend the global Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) conference. The big topic of discussion was how we adapt our change management practices to align with Agile ways of working.
When we talk about change management and Agile, we’re usually talking about one of two things:
1. Transforming to Agile: Helping people to transition to Agile ways of working
2. Delivering within Agile: Helping manage the people side of initiatives that are being delivered by Agile teams
Insights from ACMP about effectively delivering within Agile.
– Understand that the principles of change management are just as important in an Agile environment, but accept that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach or framework that will apply exactly to what you are doing. Instead of focusing on tools, methods, or checklists go back to the basics of what outcomes you are trying to achieve and what you think will help deliver those outcomes.
– Treat your change management activity as “plays” in a playbook, or experiments, instead of a set in stone plan. Create a backlog of change activity that you think will help achieve your outcomes, but be willing to adapt or throw ideas away if they aren’t working. Align your planning and experimentation to the sprint cycles of your Agile teams.
– Set and manage expectations early. Both your sponsors and your “users” need to understand not only what’s changing because of your initiative(s), but what’s different about how the initiative is being delivered (if Agile is new or new-ish to them). Taking the extra time to explain the approach early will be worth it.
– Consider how you can do training and communications in small bite-sized pieces. Explore Digital Adoption Platforms, Micro-Learning, and Point of Need Learning, which all aim to provide the right amount of information to the right person at the right time.
So there are some interesting ideas for your next Agile change – what have you tried that worked or didn’t?