Change Management towards an Agile World

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As more organizations implement Agile practices to drive early and continuous value recognition, they often forget about Change Management – the critical human aspect required for product adoption as well as Agile capability adoption. Alf Raju and Bryn Hughes recently led two sessions as part of the PMI Wine Country Chapter’s Annual Professional Development Day.

Table of Contents

The day included several key take-aways on how to implement change with agility; including how to start your journey towards Agile, structure your approach to sell the quick wins, and accelerating value as you go forward in our digital economy.

Disruptive technologies are accelerating the pace of change with many organizations turning to Agile as an approach to increase speed of delivery, ensure client satisfaction and optimize efficiency and flexibility.  Alf Raju, Vice President at MIGSO-PCUBED , articulated in his presentation that the time for digital change is now.  Those that delay, given the projected growth in investment around digital technologies over the coming three to five years, will be left behind with no chance of catching up.

When referencing digital, we intend to generically capture the technology that is necessary to respond to business model disruption, or to define business models in a new technology-driven environment. At first, these digital tools emerge as disruptive technologies and ultimately accelerate the pace of change. Business practice must keep up with this pace and demonstrate agility and responsiveness so to meet the competition and secure business success.

Often times organizations underestimate the impact such initiatives have on operational structure, the culture within the organization, daily impact to employees, or the longevity a disruptive technology will bring to the industry writ large. It is critical for organizations to express a degree of agility and responsiveness to digital innovations, while managing these efforts through a Change Management lens.

It is critical for organizations to express a degree of agility and responsiveness to digital innovations, while managing these efforts through a Change Management lens.

If not adopted organizations will quickly find themselves on the allegorical ‘burning platform’ – not only will you lose out on the benefits that the digital transformation effort may bring, but you will alienate resistors and derail existing business processes.

Change Management principles should be leveraged within all enterprise transformations as these major change journeys are increasing in frequency and importance to drive competition in a disrupted digital world. One effective way to do this is to define a ‘compelling vision’ to ‘pull’ people towards the future state rather than ‘push’ with the burning platform option, though in reality a combination of both ideas will be required to capture all user groups.

Here are 5 key take-aways on how to implement Change Management to drive agility in today’s Agile World.

1. Understand the Need

Before embarking on any organizational transition, or change effort, it is critical to fully understand the needs of the individuals who comprise the organization undergoing the change as every individual’s journey is unique. MIGSO-PCUBED recommends beginning with a Change Readiness Assessment, which helps to predict how an organization’s people will adapt to strategic change and what steps should be taken to encourage them to adopt the transformation successfully.

Engaging the target audience in the definition of the integrated strategy allows the organization to capitalize on the right model for delivery as there is an optimal bimodal envelope for each company.  Defining how fast to move or the pace of change acceptable within the organization is critical to achieving speed to value – too fast and teams will succumb to Change Saturation and disengage – too slow and you may not reap the benefits of the change.

2. Obtain Sponsor Buy-in and develop a Speed-to-Value Roadmap

Developing a culture of possibility and staying tuned into your people will lead the Change Management practitioner to a successful outcome. This is particularly important when an organization undergoes digital transformation, especially if Agile principles are introduced as a new way of achieving such transformation and realizing business value more quickly.

Leveraging these principles, MIGSO-PCUBED supports organizational development, counseling and coaching clients to develop a clear roadmap of a future, desired state. In developing an understanding on how to build an effective roadmap for accomplishing Speed to Value, clients are able to garner stakeholder buy-in which will enable more timely realization of new capabilities, realizing a closer collaboration across vertical teams and reaching major milestones along the roadmap.

3. Proactively Manage Severity of Resistance

Proactive recognition and management of each individual or group’s severity of resistance to the change is critical to enabling success. The assessment described above is a great way to understand the drivers for resistance and helps to create a management plan to target key change management activities, which will differ by individual and group.  

Cultivating a compelling vision, along with the burning platform, is usually the most successful approach in driving sustainable change, whilst being cognizant of the mitigation approaches that are available for use, such as anticipating potential scenarios and preparing contingency plans in case the other approaches do not work.

Understanding the need for fluid change management will not only support those on the receiving end of the change, but it will also foster a more pleasant, effective change journey for the organization as a whole.

During the change process remember to capture and use quick wins to increase both the speed of adoption and the return on tangible business value.

4. Understand Capabilities Required for Success

In executing a Digital or Agile Enterprise Transformation, it is necessary to identify the key capabilities required to make the change journey successful, thus flagging any gap in capabilities to address these.  Furthermore, it is critical to embed the identified change actions across the life of the program.

A proven approach is to package those actions into incremental change cycles within the overall Change Management plan, which allows for the model and execution to be continuously refined over time as the organization progresses towards its’ optimal solution.

Program Plan
A Program Plan

5. Are We There Yet? Decoding the Finish Line of your Change Journey

Just as engaging relevant stakeholders during the project initiation and planning stages is critical, establishing a clear understanding of when you have completed your organizational change journey is also paramount to success. This can only be done by developing metrics that are relevant, meaningful, and fit for purpose. It is ultimately these underlying activities that will establish whether or not you have arrived at your destination.

Closing out this engaging session, we came to a final punctuation: change is something you do with people, not to them. When experiencing a transition toward more agile delivery management, leaders must embed key principles of change management to successfully execute and sustain the change.

This article was written by
Alf Raju, Bryn Hughes and Danielle Siegler.

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