Change equals loss for many people. Accordingly, a period of adjustment is required and can be aided with communicative leadership. This was one of the messages delivered in “Not Your Mother’s Agile Transformation,” a Wednesday morning session at the recent Scrum Gathering co-presented by Katrina Bales & Keely Killpack. It is no longer reasonable to expect change simply “because I said so.”
At the individual level, how about hearing this from your boss: “What do you need to feel safe?”
At the group level, how about being asked to rate each individual aspect of an Agile transformation at work as if it were a feature of a new product? E.g., collaborative work spaces: love it this way? hate it this way? expect it this way? feel neutral/indifferent? Customer involvement at all stages of the development process: love it this way? hate it this way? Et cetera.
That is the crux of what this pair has devised – a means for measuring a groups’s feelings about systemic organizational change coupled with methods for addressing individuals who may have an especially hard time adjusting. In an interactive exercise, we tested the idea that segmentation into subgroups of business and technical personnel can yield further insight into unlocking the requests hidden inside change-resistance.
These requests may be as simple as “Let me get used to one new thing at a time!” or “Give me some control!” Sometimes the requests may be a bit more complex, as in “Help me find an alternate role in the company.” This, too, can be interpreted and managed.
The important thing is knowing that the human brain responds to change emotionally first, logically second. For the pattern-seeking amygdala, something new is generally perceived as “wrong,” i.e., an error.
Participants in well-functioning, creative workplaces must come to terms with paradoxes. Learning often requires unlearning. And when it comes to adjusting to the changes this calls for, hard conversations make things easier.