Agile Change Management

Using Agile Methodologies for
Organizational Change Management

We’ve already dove into the concept of Agile vs. agile. Now we’re taking a closer look at how Agile methodologies can better support organizational change management.

Change management professionals are skilled at preparing organizations for change. Many are comfortable working within traditional “big bang”’ deployment using a waterfall or SDLC framework. With this type of deployment, the solution is fully designed, reviewed, approved, and tested before it’s deployed. Yet these efforts can take months, even years, to finish executing.

So what happens when the design of the solution is constantly changing due to the use of Agile methodologies? As more and more project teams shift to using an agile framework, they roll out new features and functionalities for their solutions every week or month. These rapid shifts require change teams to be more flexible and adapt to a more rapid, iterative pace.

Making the switch to agile.

The biggest difference between traditional deployment and agile deployment is when and how frequently the change activities happen. With an agile deployment, the solution is designed at a high level, but we don’t know all the details upfront. That means we must shift our behaviors to adapt to changing situations.

In an agile deployment, we set a high-level change strategy based on what we know. Think about building a house: The plans are set in place in the beginning, but details such as wall colors, kitchen backsplash, and sink faucets can be changed at the last minute.

Agile projects are developed in sprints (lasting 1-4 weeks) in which the project team executes a specific detail or aspect of the solution according to the requirements (or user story). So, in the first sprint, they might lay the foundation of a house. Then in the second sprint, they focus on completing the rough framing. And maybe by sprint 84 they pivot to choosing wall colors and painting the walls. (Learn more about Agile and sprints.)

sprint cycle for agile organizational change management

Agile change management.

To transition to agile change management, start by focusing on what you know. Become familiar with the elements that drive the solution: the business objectives, goals, user stories, and the business case for the change. Assess the organization’s culture, leadership styles, and experience with change.

Create a strategic change plan to support and accelerate change adoption. The plan should:

  • Outline the scope, schedule, and complexity.
  • Identify key stakeholders and how to engage them.
  • Document the needs of each audience.
  • Estimate key milestones and timelines.
  • Map resources to the sprint plan.
  • Document how change impacts will be determined sprint by sprint.
  • Identify key performance measures.
  • Build feedback loops to gather and respond to stakeholder input.

Since agile project development works in sprints, make sure you work with each sprint to understand the change impacts, plan communications, and assess training needs.

For each sprint deployment, change management professionals can execute the same key activities they would do for any project. The key difference is that these activities will be done for each sprint, rather than just once at the beginning of the project.

Why be agile?

Comparison of agile organizational change management

You want the best for your customer, right? Adopting an agile mindset when it comes to project development and change management allows you to do just that. It’s more collaborative. It gives decision-making ownership to the team that’s closest to the customer. Ultimately, it creates a better solution in a more efficient way—from one sprint to the next!

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