The Keys to Agile Change Management | SoftwareONE Blog

Adoption & Change Management

The Keys to Agile Change Management

The Keys to Agile Change Management

  • 31 March 2021
  • 5.25 minutes to read

If there is anything we’ve learned over the course of the last year, it’s that agility is key. From the emerging needs of clients and employees to technological advancements, organizations these days must be able to adjust and pivot at a moment’s notice when it comes to Adoption & Change Management. This is where an innovative, light-weight approach to change management comes in, called agile change management. We are sure you’ve all heard phrases like “we must be more agile” or “business agility is a priority in today’s market”; but what does Agile mean? Would it mean being faster in doing our tasks, moving along with emerging market trends or maybe, working in sprints?

Well, Agile is more than that. While Agile does promote the creation of functioning, incremental deliverables, adaptability to changing customer demands and working on iterative setups, Agile is a mindset that some organizations adopt, where shared values (openness, respect, courage, focus and commitment) and principles are held very close to their hearts. Agile is founded on empiricism and lean thinking. Empiricism states that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed and experimented. Lean thinking reduces waste and invests efforts on what is truly meaningful and essential.

Agile has its foundations based on three pillars:

  1. Transparency. The emergent process and work must be visible to those performing the work as well as those receiving the work. Projects that have low transparency can lead to decisions that diminish value and increase risk. Transparency enables inspection. Inspection without transparency is misleading and wasteful.
  2. Inspection. The progress toward agreed goals must be inspected frequently and diligently to detect potentially undesirable variances or problems. Inspection enables adaptation. Inspection without adaptation is considered pointless. Agile is intended to provoke change.
  3. Adaptation. If any aspects of a process deviate outside acceptable limits or if the resulting product is unacceptable, the process being applied, or the materials being produced must be adjusted. The adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize further deviation.

So now let’s talk about Agility in Change Management! Essentially, agile change management means that your organization understands that adaptability to changing market needs is imperative and always has the best interest of your employees in mind.  Let’s take a closer look at what agile change management is, and the keys organizations need to succeed in their strategies.

What is Agile Change Management?

Agile change management places heavy importance on individuals. Being agile is about how your organization responds to change as a whole rather than how it follows a plan. You have to encourage your employees to want to change and to understand why it is necessary. Essentially, you should always take a people-first approach. In other words, Agile Change Management is a feedback-driven, highly tailorable, non-linear, non-prescriptive approach towards change. It takes insights to make hypotheses, comes up with potential solutions to these hypotheses in an open and creative environment where everyone’s opinions matter, and appreciates learning on the go through experimentation. So by all means, fail fast to learn fast.

Now let’s dive into what this means for our practice in 5 simple key steps:
Adoption & Change Management: People-first Approach towards Change, source: Jason Little

The Ultimate Keys to Successful Agile Change Management

Now let’s dive into what this means for our practice in 5 simple key steps:

What is Agile Change Management?
Adoption & Change Management: 5 Key Steps

1. Create Cause and Purpose

In order to create lasting change in the future, employees need to understand why it is essential to change now. Begin your approach by defining what is causing this change and what the purpose is behind it. This underlying purpose will be a pillar of your agile change management strategy, so it must be something that you sincerely believe in, to then motivate others to work towards this goal at an individual level.

It’s crucial to reach a common understanding between all parties involved in the change process. Agile change should be posed as a necessity, or else your organization may never fully achieve other critical changes in the future. Bridging this gap will help every team member understand that each one of their efforts will help the organization move from the as-is state to the to-be state.

2. Maintain Meaningful Dialogue

Agile Change Management is all about people, and it’s been proven that 70% of communications happen verbally in an average organization. These two facts should have already given you a good idea on why Meaningful Dialogue is so important for a change to be effective. Collecting Insights is the first step of the journey when driving change with an Agile mindset, and what better way to do it than talking. Simple as that; these conversations, brainstorming sessions and interviews will allow you to gather the most valuable information to begin your change process, so identifying the right people to go to is a crucial activity at this early stage. The information you get is just as good as the resources you involve.

3. Promote Experimentation

Experimentation is nothing without a good environment to carry it out. The Agile Mindset provokes change; change that comes from experiments. To realize all the benefits of empiricism, the mindset change needs to be encouraged from the high levels of the hierarchy in the organization. A free thinking, highly creative, hyper collaborative, open way of work needs to enable collaborators to feel safe to try, fail and learn fast, so the continuous improvement promoted by Agile is achieved. So, in a nutshell, think about what your to-be state is, what you think should be the outcome, how long it should take you to get there and how much planning is really necessary. With this in mind, experiment, measure and repeat as many times as you need it.

4. Co-create Always

Creating a sense of ownership on your workforce will facilitate your daily tasks as a change manager. When people relate to what they do and feel the purpose as their own, is much simpler to keep a motivated, efficient, and happy work environment. For this reason, involving key players in the creation of the change challenge is vital toward potential success. This practice also reduces resistance within the organization and allows your leadership teams to speak the same language as their collaborators.

5. Respond to Change

As your agile change management process moves forward, you should measure its performance along the way. Nothing is written in stone. If there is an aspect of your strategy that isn’t working, experiments will make it visible. 

This way, if there are proactive adjustments or refinements to be made, you can easily see where they should be implemented. Plus, if you are continuously tracking the progress of your strategy, you can gather your data for monthly or quarterly reporting to share with your team. That will give everyone an opportunity to look at the insights you’ve uncovered and use that as motivation to keep the momentum going. And remember, responding to change rather than managing resistance (when possible), is the way to go.

How SoftwareONE Can Support Your Agile Change Management Strategy

Here at SoftwareONE, we know how easy it is to lose steam on the adoption and change management process. That’s why we developed our Adoption & Change Management Advisory Service that aims to design a strategy for your organization with every employee in mind. We know that success is experienced on a personal level, and agile change management is most efficient with a people-first approach.

Our services begin with a discovery process to help identify which stage your company is in your future workplace journey. Then, we assess the adoption and change status quo within your organization and validate our assessment through individuals from every level of your organization. Finally, we prepare an Advisory Outcome report that will illustrate how you can progress from your current level all the way through successful agile change management.

Again, we know this is a fundamental shift in your company culture, and our management teams are ready to support your strategy no matter where you’re stepping off from.

Final Thoughts

Agile change management is a healthy, necessary process for your organization to undergo. Remember that co-creation promotes employee engagement and commitment, feedback is golden, experiments are your best friends, and change is what drives improvement and success. Your collaborators should always come first, and remaining adaptable is the motto. Once you and your team are ready to take the leap, you’ll be able to accept change and adapt with ease for years to come.

Ready to Make a Change?

SoftwareONE is ready to support your agile change management strategy. Contact us today for more information on how to get started.

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