Agile Projects and Change

Agile Project Management is a unique project management approach that has recently been gaining a lot of momentum in the Change Management world. Instead of a sequential approach to implementing a large development project, an Agile approach occurs in small stages and is broken up into small bite size stages or sprints and scrums (what we call “mini-curves.”) Though there are other types of frameworks to implement agile, we like using scrum because it involves highly participative cross functional groups and smaller pieces of work. In other words, it helps your organization get stuff done!

Implementing an Agile approach pretty much guarantees that you’ll be engaging a lot of stakeholders in new process with very different group dynamics. That’s why it’s important to understand the “journey” these stakeholders will experience. Below are three things to consider:

1/ Mini-curves

People experience change through a defined process. We describe these in the six stages illustrated below:

Instead of experiencing one curve of change, people will experience several “mini-curves” as a result of each sprint or development iteration. The mini curves will ultimately contribute to the overall project curve.  Due to the compressed time from start to completion, these mini-curves may feel a bit more intense. Don’t worry though, this is completely normal and should be expected.

2/ Define success differently

For Agile development, you may find that you need to define the success of the sprint and scrum mini-curve differently that you might define it for the overall project. Each scrum mini-curve is more like getting the task “roughly right” instead of absolutely perfect. Each iteration is designed to get closer to the final goal not achieve it all at once. As long as the scrum mini-curve is contributing to your overall project goal, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

3/Personality Styles

Understanding and being sensitive to an individual’s personal styles is critical when connecting Agile implementation with the change process. If some people involved on your scrum team are detail oriented they may feel they haven’t really reached success at the end of the sprint. Be sure you make it clear to them how the “roughly right” scrum accomplishment contributes to the overall project success. Understanding the personality types of your scrum teams in advance will not only save you a lot of time and disruptions, but it will help contribute to the development of a productive work culture. Tailor your conversations to suit the needs of each individual’s personal style. Take some extra time to help your people connect to what you are doing and more importantly, why you are doing it.

Use the concepts of mini-curves, success defined as roughly right, and personal styles to ensure your agile project approach is a success.