Archive for February 13, 2010

Agile Change Projects – a great fit!

Yesterday (Feb 12, 2010), I attended a presentation coordinated by the PMI Chapter Frankfurt, local group Hamburg. The topic was ‘Why change projects do not work’. The guest speaker Malte Foegen (wibas GmbH) delivered a very lively, entertaining and inspiring presentation. He presented an iterative approach on how to achieve change in small but effective steps, illustrated by an example of a big German company. (I’ll see if I can point to the slides later on).

I had a big aha moment when I realized that they were actually applying an AGILE approach in this corporate change initiative!

You might have read some of my earlier blog postings about managing change, and the inherent issues. I have quite a lot of experience with change programs and ‘classic’ change methodologies, and I have learned a lot about agile approaches recently, but hadn’t made the connection so far. Listening to Mr Foegen, it really hit me that this is a very good fit. Obviously, they successfully used it in practice.

Of course there is one big difference to a ‘regular’ Scrum project: In Scrum, you have a team of usually up to 9 people who execute the work themselves. In the context of this corporate change initiative, a lot of agile elements were being used (short sprints and the respective planning and retrospectives, ‘Product’ (Change) Backlog, Vision, etc.). Care was taken for a high level of involvement of the ‘field’, e.g. by identifying ‘best of the breed’ practices already existing in the field instead of making up new bureaucratic processes. The biggest difference: The people actually needed to DO the change (for example, adopting new monitoring techniques) were scattered across the organization, indeed THE ORGANIZATION had to implement the defined changes. So the change program was organized in an agile manner, involving top management.

Doing small but effective, regular steps every month achieved a significant and sustainable change in the end. A good example Mr Foegen used throughout the presentation, would be the introduction of Planning Poker as part of a larger change initiative targeted at improving estimating and forecasting quality. As one iteration in your change project, you could roll out Planning Poker to respective parts of the organization in one month. You’d have implemented a small increment of your change, and with the positive energy created you’d build up momentum for the coming parts.

All in all, really interesting. And b.t.w. – this is also a good example for a non-software development project using Scrum (see earlier discussions in this blog).

If you’re interested, have a look at the ‘Map of change’ (links below). Sometimes you’re not sure if you should laugh or cry, maybe there’s just too much truth in it. I found myself giggling a few times. My personal highlight was ‘the big bang ferries’ that leave the ivory tower regularly but usually sink in the shallows of quick wins. A few actually reach the land but leave burnt ground :-D

Happy weekend!

February 13, 2010 at 14:53 Leave a comment


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