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We want change but we won’t change (part 2)

In part 1 we saw a framework to address our anxiety and fear associated with changes by categorising them and seeing them for what they actually mean. In this part let’s get into the crux of implementing those changes.

Implementing the change

Almost all organisational changes require individuals to adapt in some capacity. To make change successful and sustainable over time, there are four areas that organisations need to take care of.

Diagram showing a torch, screwdriver, paint roller and glasses. These represent the headings within the blog.

1. Explain why they have to change

Here, leaders need to tell a compelling story to explain why an individual needs to change and it should be meaningful to them too. For example, declaring to the people that, as an organisation, we need to move to ‘agile’ is hardly a compelling reason to ask anyone to change. Instead by explaining to them that by adopting agile ways of working, we as an organisation will be quicker to adapt to changes which eventually will give us the competitive edge and help capture larger market share. It might resonate with a few. By telling them that by adopting agile, they understand that we will be more experimental and innovative. This can, in turn, create new growth opportunities for us. This reason might excite other groups of people and so on. Different people get motivated for different reasons. So it is important to explain the ‘why’ behind the change as clearly as possible.

2. Systems and processes 

To reinforce the new set of behaviours, the necessary systems and processes must be in place. Continuing the example mentioned above, to move to ‘agile’ ways of working, there needs to be few basics in place. Like, contracting model when it comes to working with vendors, how to set KPI which drives towards common goals, how to measure project success, governance process, escalation process, individual performance review measures etc. All of these systems and processes should enable and make it easy for people to accept the change.

3. Individuals need to have the skills to do it. 

More often than not, people disagree with or resist the change because they ‘don’t know how to do’ new things. So, for our example of agile ways of working, there needs to be training on various aspects of agile (setting product vision and roadmap, defining success measures, delivery aspects), ceremonies, governance etc. There needs to be an ongoing support structure in place in the form of experts or mentors to help folks when they need it. Providing additional resources like online training, books, support groups, communities, knowledge sharing sessions etc can also be useful for individuals to build the necessary skills.

4. Role modelling. 

According to the research, it is the most powerful change agent. . For folks who are going through a change, people they trust, look up and their leaders have a huge influence. This is why it is imperative for leaders to adopt and act in the new ways of working. So, if by adopting agile, it means that we should focus on the values we deliver to users then we must not measure project success by time, budget and scope. If we are promoting experimenting and innovation then we can’t punish people for failure. If we are looking for self-organising teams then we must stay away from micro-managing people. The minute people see others are not following what they are prescribing, we can pretty much forget about the success of the change.

Change is hard. The bigger the change, the greater the challenges. All change demands constant communication, continuous support and perseverance.

I sincerely hope that the above-mentioned ways of communicating changes and some guiding principles while executing the change process can help you drive the next change. 

And yeah I bought the hoodie the next day :) 

*These are not my original ideas. Unfortunately I can’t remember and locate the sources.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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