agile and change management

as change management consultants, we’re often asked how agile and change management fit together. the need for change management is arguably increased in agile because of its iterative nature, the amount of churn created, and consequently, its impact on climate and readiness. what is the same is the fact that if you marry a fit for purpose, situational change management approach that’s blended with project management protocols, you will help projects be implemented faster and to benefit realization. at its core, agile is based on the assumption that circumstances change as a project develops. while you are still working through a life cycle, in agile, they are doing this in short sprints, rather than saving it all for the end.

in the initiation phase, the foundation of these deliverables should be built:   in both the agile and waterfall life cycles change management practitioners must continually ask the same questions to manage risks in real-time, and be prepared to apply situational strategies and tactics for mitigation: whether you are using agile or waterfall life cycles, it is still best practice to blend the technical plan with the human side plan. in fact, because of the iterative nature of agile, it is even more critical that you do this in order not to miss implications on the people side for technical project plan changes, and vice versa. aim is a change management framework designed to be flexible based on what is occurring at the moment rather than what is next on the “to do” list. both agile and aim are based on the common assumption that change is not linear! that’s why a process that is flexible, based on what is occurring at the moment, is so valuable. the blend of a fit for purpose and repeatable change management process like aim dramatically improves the likelihood of implementation success.

the volume of chatter about agile and change management has been on the rise in recent years. in late 2016, prosci engaged change practitioners that had a foot in each discipline to provide insights, experiences and expertise on the intersection of these emergent and critical disciplines. however, the rapid pace of a project using agile means that change management practitioners must refine and focus their work – becoming more precise and efficient and knowing where to flex and where to relax the change management rigor. )” study participants identified five common obstacles when working to bring change management into a project using agile iterative development processes: interestingly, the interplay between effectively managing the transition to agile and the effective application of change management in agile shows up in the top obstacles.

for the purpose of this blog, i’ll provide a short “punchline” for each of the ten practice areas below: managers need to be equipped with resources and training on agile and engaged with face-to-face communication. change management resourcing needs vary across an agile development effort and must be ready to pivot based on employee impact of a given phase. but the pace and nature of an agile effort means that change management must change. his work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results. prosci can partner with you to customize a solution for the specific needs of your organization.

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