Joshua L. Roberts

Agile / Lean Enterprise Transformation Coach

Week Seven – Creating a Climate for Change

By Josh Roberts | July 21, 2014 | 0 Comment

From holding our first Transformation Team meeting, to attending this month’s KC Limited WIP Society meeting, and finally an insightful discussion with members of the KC Agilehood, the theme of this week has been introducing sustainable change into an organization.

As I shared before, we will be using an Agile approach to run our Agile/Lean transformation in a collaborative and incremental way. We are not the first to take this approach and, as a result, we can benefit from the experience of others. We will also draw from many of the traditional change management models that have been developed over the last few decades.

Whether it’s Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change, Model-Netics “North Wind Theory”, or the Lean Change organization, all suggest that you start your transformation by creating a climate for change. So what does that climate look like? I will give you a hint…

Remember our “Three Words to Guide Us”?

1)    Collaboration

2)    Transparency

3)    Value

We want to create a collaborative and transparent climate that encourages organizational feedback to ensure the change we introduce is bringing the expected value.  As Jason Little from Lean Change suggests, we want to create a climate of experimentation and evolution.  Our goal is not to change the organization, but rather to evolve it through experimentation and incremental change.

“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination” – Drake

This week Kay Harper, Agile Coach and member of the KC Agilehood, introduced me to the Lean Change organization. Lean Change uses a modified Build, Measure, Learn loop based on Lean Startup principles to introduce Minimal Viable Change (MVC) into an organization.

lean change

Similar to our transformation approach, Lean Change suggests that you incrementally introduce high value / low cost change into the organization.  Create a hypothesis, run an experiment, capture the results, gain insights, and review your options before introducing more change. It’s definitely an empirical approach.

lean change management

I like an evolutionary approach to introducing change, but will it also address sustainability?

At our KC Agilehood meeting, Matt Anderson (PMO Director at Center) talked about his upcoming Agile Executive Forum 2014 presentation titled “Sustaining an Enterprise Agile Transformation”. Among other observations, he used Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle to emphasize that sustaining an Agile culture requires organizations to embrace the WHY behind Agile/Lean practices.

golden circle


In short, great leaders inspire action by starting with the WHY. In our case a noble cause to transform the organizational culture. As we learned from our Cargo Cult discussion, we must go beyond learning HOW to practice Agile delivery. To get the full benefit, we must understand WHY we use these practices. Only then will we achieve WHAT we are seeking; a sustainable culture focused on delivering value to our customer.

At this week’s KC Limited WIP Society, hosted by Troy Tuttle, we watched the video on Spotify’s Engineering Culture. They started with a traditional Scrum rollout, but have scaled far beyond Scrum. If any organization has fully embraced the WHY behind Agile practices, it would be Spotify. The people own the process, versus the process owning the people. They now operate with Squads, Chapters, Guilds and Tribes.


It terms of Shu Ha Ri, Spotify has fully transcended. Shu Ha Ri is a Japanese martial art concept, and describes the stages of learning to mastery. It roughly translates to “first learn, then detach, and finally transcend.” In other words, you must first learn HOW before you can truly master the WHY.


Like Spotify and many others, we will first introduce Agile/Lean practices (Kanban, Scrum, etc). As we gain experience with these practices, we will evolve them to fit our organizational context, and finally make it our own.

This coming week, I will be working with several members of our Transformation Team to build our Transformation Board. Like a Kanban or Scrum board, our goal is to be transparent and generate organizational conversation about the transformation. We will use this board to post transformation goals, progress, successes, and collect feedback. Having just learned about the Lean Change organization, we will be looking to include elements of their Change Canvas below.

change canvas


Josh Roberts

Agile / Lean Transformation Coach - Passionate About Delivering Value!


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