Change in an Agile Environment
Project Management and change go hand in hand from the planning phase onwards. Shifts in schedules leaving businesses unable to accommodate the changes, and constant uncertainty leaving change practitioners powerless to develop plans and keep stakeholders engaged. With organisational change management seemingly pushed to the margins. As project managers we cannot work in isolation, there must be an understanding on how projects affect change, so working with change managers is almost mandatory, and hence necessary to understand. Hence, Agile Change Management is a set of principles, not a one size fits all approach. The following are some lessons learnt and observations made that will help prepare to better manage change in an agile environment:
• Change Impacts are still essential; it’s vital for informing people of the landscape, risks, dangers and opportunities. However, don’t be wedded to it. As soon as you start delivering you are going to need to iterate this. There is a gap between the strategy and what the people can do. Known as the ‘execution gap’. To stay relevant your ‘gap analysis’ will need to be done multiple times to ensure you’re all still on track.
• Trust is key; Trust and transparency go hand in hand. Open doors to stakeholders and instead of concentrating on, training, coms or stakeholder plans, engage them. Give them regular feedback and updates, giving them visibility of the process. Being transparent will ensure that communication lines are kept open which will ensure that mistakes, progress and failures are all identified and shared.
• ‘Think like a Military Commander’; you are a pair of eyes focussed on identifying potential risks, threats and danger. You must communicate these to your troops to let them know what could happen, guiding them onto contingent courses. It’s not ‘reworking’ it’s readjusting to where we are now. As a leader you are constantly asking ‘Is this relevant anymore?’ ensuring not to move too quickly because then there is room for error. In this agile landscape this journey isn’t yours it’s everyone’s.
• Fail fast; ever heard of the age-old phrase; ‘Try to fail, don’t fail to try?’ Well, this is highly applicable in an agile landscape. It’s ok to fail if you are doing something about it. You need to be constantly reassessing and asking ‘what am I doing wrong?’ and ‘what is no longer relevant?’ If you identify risks then confront them early so that you might ‘fail fast’ you will alter the change road map and lead to a smoother engagement, adoption and embedment.
Whether you are currently delivering change on an Agile project, or in a more conventional Waterfall delivery, embracing these 4 Agile change principles can assist you to becoming more customer focused, adaptable, effective and integrated.