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Ready for Change? (Part 2)

In the first part of this article I wrote about assessing conditions for change, and ways to gain insights to understand if an organization is ready for change. This time I will write about implementing change.

Changes are complex and need to be treated accordingly: Iterating with small experiments, being transparent about the goal and purpose, and continously evaluating and adjust next steps. Lean Change Management is one such approach.

Components for Successful Change

In the Satir change model they talk about foreign elements. A forcing function that triggers the change. Some kind of catalyst or insight is likely needed to initiate change.

Once the initial spark is ignited it takes grit and vigilance to make the change happen and stick with it. I believe four components are needed to succeed: Comprehension and craftsmanship, courage, creativity and coaching.

Comprehension and Craftsmanship

Significant change requires knowledge about the wanted position as well as how things are done differently as part of it.

Initial comprehension can be acquried by training. Craftsmanship takes time to acquire, and is more difficult to obtain on your own. It requires practical experience and is aided by learning from someone with experience.

Courage

If you look for job security the safest course of action might not be pushing for change. Change attracts nay-sayers like flies. Doing something different and new, sticking your neck out, is scary.

Believing in the need for change and comprehending how to get there helps give you the courage to commit.

Creativity

Change is complex, and requires creativity and experimentation. Comprehension and courage are prerequisites for creativity. Comprehension lets you understand what experiments you might want to try. Courage lets you take the leap despite the very realistic possibility of failure.

Coaching

The combination of comprehension, courage and creativity enables change to happen. Having a coach that can train, encourage and nudge the organization in the right direction drastically increases the chance of success.

A good coach has a solid understanding of principles and values relating to the wanted position, as well as underlying mechanisms.

A good coach can suggest exercises and experiments that help people increase their comprehension and craftsmanship.

A good coach has experience working in teams and organizations having done similar journeys, and facing similar challenges.

A good coach reminds, nudges and taps on the shoulder when you risk reverting back to old ways of thinking.

Having coaches work side-by-side in teams throughout the organization as new ways of working are implemented is also needed: reminding people about mindset and principles, and how they are reflected in practices and processes.

Without proper coaching you risk:

  • Implementing the change only skin deep. It ends up as merely a slight variation of the latest status quo.

  • Overlooking comprehension, missing or misunderstanding key aspects.

  • Finding it difficult to get people in the organization on board. This can be both because of bandwith limitations and difficulty being a prophet in your own town.

If you decide to use someone external make sure you know why and also how you plan to leverage the extra help. Have an open dialog with the external party and make sure it is a good match depending on what you try to accomplish and need. If you already have change agents or coaches in the company, make sure to include them in the process.

The Learning Organization

A learning organization has incorporated continous change into its DNA. This results in less resistance and chaos as changes are introduced. Changes happen frequently and become part of organization culture.

Conclusions

Key components for successful change are:

  • Comprehension → Craftsmanship

  • Courage

  • Creativity

  • Coaching

First reflect on the need for change and take time to understand the wanted position. It will take courage and creativity - and grit - to stay on track. External help is valuable, but make sure you bring it on for the right reasons and at the right time.

What is your experience of introducing big changes? Have you been part of an agile transformation at your company? Can you relate to the four components of change?



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