Evolving the Art of Leading Change

How do you go about shifting your company from A to B?

This is one of the enduring leadership challenges for all companies. The world does not stand still, it is moving, and our choice is how to move with it.

There are many change frameworks out there. One that deserves an honourable mention given the empirical study over of its approach over time is The Leadership Challenge.

We could have simply chosen to copy known change frameworks. But that does not represent our spirit. We are driven to innovate and to make things better. Our contribution is to clarify the how to go about leading change to be successful.

When we took a step back to ask two important questions: “what can Agile learn from change frameworks?” and “what can change frameworks learn from Agile?

We took these two questions to our content champion Sofie Halkjær.

We are very happy and excited by the practices she has clarified as a part of the practice library. We like them because they challenge a few cargo cult myths about leading change (such as “it’s all about the grand vision”), but just as important, as veteran Agile change agents, these practices resonated with things we have done that worked, without having the words to describe them.

Let’s cut to the chase and answer these two questions:

What can seasoned change frameworks learn from Agile?

A few things: one key difference is seeing change as experiments rather than “the best way” regardless of context . This includes tackling change incrementally (this gets you out of the starting blocks quickly) and to observe and learn from process (observe and problem solve roadblocks) and the system that needs to change at the same time (yes people are important, but it’s not only about people).

One highlight in the practice library is the shift in emphasis for leaders from building “The Grand Vision” to “Bridging current and future state”. It is important that leaders help people see not only the future, but also the bridge to it, a bridge that looks realistic and makes sense.

What can Agile learn from the practices in this library?

The change process that comes with Agile implementations can roughly be divided into two categories, one that recognizes the importance of context and one that doesn’t. The latter easily becomes dogmatic in its approach and produces a weird catch-22, we want to create thinking, responsible people, but when we implement Agile, we throw this overboard and implement Agile by compliance to process (and treat skilled people as droids in the process).

A good idea implemented through a bad change process will produce a negative experience that persists for years.

Agile contains many good ideas, but as a community we also need to keep learning. And one area where we can (and need to) do better is in the area of leading successful change.

We are very happy to welcome Sofie Halkjær as a champion for leading change!

Explore Leading Change, a key skill in our Practice Library.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *