Lean Change Management

Lean Change Management

Lean Change Management

I have seen a lot of Jason Little’s work online.  He has a interesting approach to change and leading change.  He once was a developer, then became a project manager.  Today he does consulting with companies as a  Organizational Change Agent.  When I saw he had a book coming out I jumped at the chance to get a copy.  Jason’s book is titled Lean Change Management, Innovative Practices for Managing Organizational Change.  I was interested in how Lean Change management would work having read, Eric Ries book the Lean Startup that we have covered before.

Practices that generate insights

Jason covers five practices that help us get a handle on where things are and how the organization is working.  This makes sense if we want to lead change we first need to take the pulse of the organization and see what are the current issues we face.

Practice 1 creating and using information radiators

Jason tells us he is no longer a Scrum Master but, he occasionally uses Agile practices to help understand and communicate change.  He discusses how using visible portfolio wall helps his stakeholders understand what they are working on and how changes are moving through the process.

Practice 2 Lean Coffee

Lean Coffee is a way to increase the communication when change is ongoing.  Jason used this on his engagement at The Commission.  It helped him and the leadership group understand some of the resistance that people had for the many changes they were attempting.  It can maximize communication by creating an open dialog.   Lean Coffee is very informal and the attendees drive the discussion.

Practice 3 Culture Hacking

Jason learned about Culture Hacking from Stephan Haas.  To really understand an organizations culture you need to do more than analyze it.  You need to change something and see how the disruption provokes a response.  One example Jason talks about is when they moved people to an open seating arrangement without cube walls.  There was a lot of hand wringing.  He also details the Hacking Zones, starting with Green Zone that is safe to the Red Zone that is “update your resume” dangerous.

Practice 4 Agile Retrospectives

While leading this change at The Commission his team noticed that the staff members would not give honest feedback to their managers.  Jason used Agile Retrospectives to gather feedback from staff using the happy, sad, mad format.  Participants would add sticky notes to the three categories.  This helped them gather honest feedback they could then take to the managers.

Practice 5 Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis

Kurt Lewin was a social psychologist from 1940s who described change as a three-phase journey.  One of the practices he introduced is Force Field Analysis, that can be done on a sheet of paper.  You start by identifying forces Restraining the change and those driving the change.  This is a great way to get insight into the team and understand there issues with accepting the change.


Jason identified two major change frameworks you can use in any organization change.  These frameworks give the team a mental model to follow their change through.  The first framework is from Dr. John Kotter and his book Leading Change.

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

  1. Create Urgency
  2. Form a Powerful Coalition
  3. Create a Vision for the Change
  4. Communicate the Vision
  5. Remove Obstacles
  6. Create Short Term Wins
  7. Build on the Change
  8. Anchor the Change in Corporate Culture
 This framework outlines the important steps to create the successful change any organization wants.  Each step needs to be followed to foster true buy in we want.  I have seen teams try to go through change skipping some steps and failing because of it.

McKinsey 7S

The McKinsey 7S Framework tries point out there is more than just structure that needs to be in place to facilitate change.  It identifies Hard Factors:
  • Strategy
  • Structure
  • Systems
These are the tangible factors that are easily defined.  Then there are the Soft Factors that are ambiguous and complex.
  • Shared Values
  • Skills
  • Style
  • Staff
The frameworks offer techniques to understand organizational change at a high level.  Jason’s book is full of many other good ideas.  He covers a lot of ground on how to try ideas with Experiments too in the later part of the book.  If you want to better understand change read this book!
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