structured approach in an agile world

Is a “Structured Approach” Relevant in an Agile World?

In a recent conversation with my change peers, we debated the relevance of the current ACMP definition of Change Management as a “structured approach”. In this era of Agile where we need to fail fast is there room for structure? It sounds so rigid, so prescribed. Must finish step 1 before advancing to step 2… and make sure you have sign off!

Perhaps the word is wrong. Perhaps the word is deliberate. Even in times of fast moving, nimble sprints do we still have the need to be deliberate in our change management approach?

I believe the answer is yes. Deliberate says we have a clear objective to every activity we plan to support the transition of stakeholders from current to future – even if a two-week sprint. We still need to know what the change is, who needs to change, how they are impacted, and what specific activities we can provide to support them to be productive in the future state. As well, we need to be deliberate in the metrics that define our change success, otherwise, we are destined for a lot of busy with no hold! Deliberate allows us to plan and measure along the way – a tried and true approach to getting and sustaining the expected results of a change.

Regardless whether you are building strategies and plans for short sprints, using tools such as Change Canvas, Personas, Pecha Kucha, Plans on a Page, Lean Coffee, Change Blast Radius, Minimum Viable Change Process… or managing change in a traditional waterfall project generating formal deliverables… being deliberate in our approach and having clear objectives each step will ensure we are purposeful and measurement-centric in achieving our results. Deliberate in our planning, our engagement, our skill development, our change leadership, our sustainment.

My advice is don’t be too hasty in removing the “structured” from our ACMP definition of Change Management! Even in today’s fast-paced change environment it reminds us to be deliberate in our actions; hyper focused on our change management objective of supporting transitions to achieve expected benefits, rapidly and often.

Valerie JohnsonValerie Johnson is a Vancouver-based Strategic Change Management Consultant and a Board Director for the Greater Vancouver Chapter of ACMP.