Leading Agile Change – I’m Preparing a New Course

May 15, 2013

For most organizations, agile is a large change in cultural belief. We need to guide change in ways that will not only challenge existing beliefs about what works, but gain acceptance for these new practices in the process.

The ADKAR change management model tells us that:
  • There must be awareness of the need for change, followed by…
  • The desire to make change happen – along with participating in and supporting change.
Adopting agile is about moving from a current state to a new, desired state. This can and most often should start at the team level, with those who have the awareness and desire to make a change in the first place. We need to drive some initial success so that other individuals and organizations at large can see that will work in their organization.

But this is only the start of what will be a continual communication/feedback loop with the organization. In order to change the cultural beliefs of an organization, there will need to be more information flowing other than a working demonstration of a few agile teams working in isolation.

For a start, there needs to be visibility so the project(s) that new agile teams are responsible actually get the attention of organization so that management becomes aware of the need for change. Agile teams can provide valuable knowledge and information about how to change along with modeling what the change looks like.

There definitely needs to be someone championing how agile differs from other approaches along with why they work. Without this, agile adoptions risk becoming an incremental change where specific practices are utilized without making the fundamental shift in the mindsets and behaviors required to make agile a transformational change. You don’t want your Scrum Sprints to be viewed as a series of mini-waterfall projects, do you? This can happen…

This is why I’ve been spending a great deal of my time putting together a Foundations for Leading Agile Change course. This will be a two-day course that introduces Lean and agile, taking participants through a series of exercises, discussions, and information-sharing designed to create an understanding of Lean and agile before discussing Scrum and Kanban.

My goal is to provide a solid understanding of the fundamentals, helping executives, managers, and project managers – and anyone else who is taking the lead in agile adoptions – not only understand what agile teams are really up to, but create awareness and desire that motivates them to get behind and support a gradual organizational shift towards a new future state. And I’ll sprinkle in information about guiding change along the way.

My hope is that this course will help to fill a needed gap in the marketplace. (Otherwise, this has been nothing more than a personal intellectual challenge, but I still consider it worth it in terms of my own continual professional development.)

Granted, implementing agile change will need to be an iterative process in practice, but based on my materials that I’ve prepared thus far I can equip individuals with a strong foundation and understanding to work from in the space of a couple of days. Of course, the real test will be that first run through! (TBD)


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