Last year around this time I predicted 3 Ways Change Management will Change in 2017. So what happened?

By Jason Little – Chief Bot Wrangler at Leanintuit

1) More cross-pollination of Agile and CM

Without citing specific articles (there have been far too many), my Linked In feed was utterly cluttered with Agile-this, and Agile-that. I’d say in general that the multitude of Agile events that happened definitely incorporated more “non-agile” speakers in the leadership, OD and change spaces and vice-versa.

I was invited to speak at more “non-agile” events in the CM, and HR communities, so that’s another indicator that more and more people outside of software are poking around Agile’s backyard.

2017 also marked the release of Lena Ross‘ fabulous Agile Change Hacks book. It’s a must-read for every change practitioner out there.

Score: Correct!

2) The rise of the Conversation Method

I think this prediction went in the opposite direction. Since we live in the age of creation where anyone can take a bunch of ideas and create a new method, I think we generally focused more on getting the method right.

I’d say more people who came to my workshops realized they were emphasizing getting permission to use a method, and focusing more on their own processes and engaging stakeholders as opposed to helping the people affected by the change itself.

This is why Lean Startup has influenced my approach to change. Much like Lean Startup focuses on building the right product for customers, my approach to change is the same. Is the change right for the people who have to live with the day-to-day consequences of the change?

Ultimately though, we still focus far too much on the mechanics of agile, change management and organizational change. The fact I wrote those as 3 different things is part of the challenge!

Score: Dead-wrong.

3) CEO-led Transformations

Hmm, this one is hard to say for certain, but my experiences have shown me CEO’s have more important things to worry about than whether or not teams are following the new mandated innovation method.

Kidding aside, we’ve been writing about this for a decade now and not a whole lot has changed from my perspective.

Score: Mostly Wrong?

4) Simplification of Change

Yes the original title was ‘3 Ways’, but I’m not a follower of rules! This one is hard to determine as well. I had a few people share stories on my blog about making change as simple as possible, but I don’t think we’ve hit the tipping point on this one either.

While early adopters of agile have generally moved past it, the non-software world still seems to be trying to figure out how to make their discipline more agile. Of course, that leads to the invention of new methods/frameworks/tools etc, but like I mentioned in the previous article, there isn’t anything left to invent.

Score: Mostly wrong?

Well, 1 out of 4 isn’t that bad I guess. It’s about the same as the change success rate!

So What’s Next?

The first question I had when conceiving this post was whether or not these predictions matter. For starters, business is business. There will always be new certifications, methods, frameworks, and models because everyone needs to make a buck, but I think this year my predictions will focus on my predictions for myself in the hopes it’ll inspire others.

1) Focusing on the positive

Everywhere you look, it’s doom and gloom. I’m guilty of that too. I’m cynical and sarcastic often, but the spirit is always in the name of humour! The 70% failure stat is still talked about far too often, company death-watch articles still roam the interwebs, and if you listened to internet trolls, pretty much every organization, leadership team, and consultants are stupid, wrong, and full of shit.

Look at Apple and Tesla, eventually, the experts pining for their decline will be right. That’s how the world works. Companies are born, run their course, get acquired or die. It’s as natural as human evolution.

The organizations I visited this year all had one common question they wanted answered: How are we doing?

Every organization has problems but generally speaking, I’ve seen thousands of small victories from big organizations killing projects when they realized they didn’t want to spend that much $$$ solving the problem they thought they wanted to solve.

I’ve run Lego Serious Play sessions with enterprise-company leadership teams that consciously want to shift their culture as a result of bad customer experiences (does anyone remember how many banks eff’d up this year?)

If you’re an employee in an organization reading this, stop and look around once in a while. You’ll see it’s probably a lot better than us consultants, experts and pundits are telling you.

2) Real help, for real people

I’ve been running experiments throughout the year to validate the need for a more useful professional association, and uncharacteristically, I haven’t acted on it, other than a few conversations with some of my fellow Lean Change Agent facilitators.

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with watered-down certifications that don’t matter, I’ll focus more on helping those who need it. My primary audience has never been peers, it’s been people tapped on the shoulder to ensure this change works. Those are the people who are stuck and need a small (or large) intervention to get unstuck.

In 2018, this community will go live, and it’ll be awesome!

3) Focusing on the Alternatives

It’s easy for anyone to be an arm-chair practitioner. Few who complain about how wrong and stupid today’s organizations and leaders are have likely never run their own organization (being a solo-consultant doesn’t count!) I’d argue they don’t know what it feels like to sit in front of a board who wants to know where the eff their investment money is going, or have to decide whom to let go because we can’t make payroll this month.

More specifically, my linked in and twitter feeds are bombarded with things like how SAFe isn’t agile, or why estimates are crucial (or why they’re useless). I’d assume most are complaining about these things being wrong because they’re mad they didn’t think of it first and aren’t making money from it.

2018 will focus more of my efforts on alternatives. I’ve always been more biased towards action, so I’ll focus more on action-over-complaining. However we think change happens, nothing changes until someone acts.

But What About the Industry?

Agile will continue to explode outside of software, which will bring more certifications, standards, books, and process models, but I think just about anyone could predict that. The general Agile community will continue to lift more old models and put their spin on it in the same way communities outside of Agile will lift more agile ideas without realizing that we more or less stole everything from all y’all in the first place!

Reflecting back, my predictions from last year were more about wishing shifts in our industry to happen so instead of trying to be right, I’m going to be the change I want to see.

Happy New Year!

By Jason Little – Chief Bot Wrangler at Leanintuit

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