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How to Optimize Change Management Within an Organization Using an Agile Approach Framework

In the realm of modern business, change and disruption are often bandied about gleefully, as if shifting organizational priorities and strategies is an easy thing to do. More often than not, change management is a complex process and one that can make or break a firm. In other words, change is both essential and riddled with pitfalls for management teams that are not accustomed to implementing such strategies, let alone with an agile approach.

This is because the traditional schools of thought regarding change management rely upon top-down processes that are time-consuming, needlessly difficult, and often iterative in implementation. Deploying reform strategies in this manner results in start-stop processes that often become outmoded by the time they are refined. Rather than utilize this approach, businesses are increasingly adopting an agile approach to deploying change management frameworks within an organization.

Whether in the heat of a crisis or in the throes of proactive strategy, here are some ways that organizations can optimize change management using an agile approach framework:


Vision Statement

One of the fundamental pieces of advice that many change managers embrace is to create a palpable need within an organization for fast, effective reform. Referred to as “creating a sense of urgency” or establishing a baseline for motivation, this is seen as an impetus towards action and a way to compel stakeholders to sit up and take notice.

Moving beyond that, a vision statement, by itself, can offer organizations a powerful motivating tool for beginning the process of effective change. While this does not include input from all relevant parties and is susceptible to modification at a later date, a vision statement at the beginning of a process of deep reform gives everyone a baseline from which to operate moving forward.

Think of it as a general strategy for a rough map of where the firm should be going and why. A key advantage of this approach is that it prompts immediate action and soul searching. More often than not, vision statements that take into consideration the views of all relevant stakeholders tend to be ineffective, or vacuous at worst and unclear or indeterminate at best.


Empowering Relevant Stakeholders As Change Agents Within Your Organization

As many management teams will readily attest, change is often difficult in times of crisis from a top-down perspective because most of the organization’s administrative power is being utilized in dealing with it.

Given this, using an agile framework for deploying effective change management within a company, executives should enlist the assistance of embedded internal experts and key players that can help develop, implement, and drive the process of change on the micro-level. These key players will help the company cut through organizational barriers and red tape to get right at the core of needed reforms. Along with the outline provided by the vision statement, management should provide this team with a set of guiding principles to help direct their collaboration as well as provide them with the necessary resources to develop and implement proposed changes.


Develop Self-Organizing Networks of Internal Teams to Carry Out and Iterate on Proposed Organizational Changes

An effective complement to top-down policies and administration are grassroots internal working groups that can work with your team of key players to implement and modify proposed changes. Aside from engaging with ongoing reform efforts, these teams can also identify new challenges and areas that need to be addressed. Because of the granular scope of their mandate, these teams are better positioned to inform management and others about how certain changes are working out in real life as well as how modifications can be instituted without damaging the central spirit of the reform.

As a complementary group to the empowered internal management team, self-organizing networks within an organization are a powerful, efficient way of fusing the energy and spirit of reform with day-to-day operations.


Utilizing Effective Internal Communication to Boost Engagement and Employee Buy-In

Bridging the gaps between vision, plan, and implementation was one of the major struggles of change management in the past. Now, with instant communication and a range of platforms to connect members at all levels of the organization, these difficulties are somewhat mitigated though not entirely overcome. When pursuing an agile approach to change management, effective, timely, and relevant communication is essential.

Whether your team utilizes communication tools like Slack or social media platforms like LinkedIn, it is important to leverage these tools to better integrate teams in pursuit of the greater vision we discussed earlier. From eliciting feedback to convincing employees to buy-in to the new approach, these less formal routes can be integral in bridging the gap between vision and reality while also eliminating the feeling that changes are being imposed from on high.


Test, Analyze, Iterate, Repeat

An older approach to change within organizations relied upon implementing vast reform, collecting data on said action, and then analyzing it for signs of success. The modern era doesn’t have time for such processes that take away precious human resource hours and rarely result in the kinds of changes companies need. Instead, an agile approach incorporates change as part of ongoing processes in a continuously iterative stream of improvement, analysis, updating, and deployment.

To manage this process and keep it sustainable, many companies implement changes on a smaller scale before advancing them to the broader organization. Further, they engage in multiple tests or experiments before expanding that process to include more and more members of the targeted cohort. By acting on a smaller scale and iterating at speed, agile managers can identify viable solutions to problems and improve processes in an organic fashion that is simultaneously resilient during implementation and beyond. Why? Because these changes are honed through a rigorous process of testing, analyzing the results from that experiment, iterating where needed, and repeating the test again with modifications implemented.


Continual Performance Analysis

Employee performance during periods of change is not only indicative of how these reforms may impact productivity and morale but also could point to needed amendments, reforms, or updates to the current strategy. Because of this, agile change managers recommend that teams move to a more frequent employee performance evaluation schedule rather than opt for the traditional annual ritual. This is because employees can benefit from both receiving and giving feedback during change while management can gauge the effectiveness of current strategies in light of real-world conditions.


How Pyxis Can Help

At Pyxis, our leading experts in organizational transformation and key production process improvement will help your company implement an agile transformation.

We can help you build productive and efficient teams that will directly contribute to business objectives and help drive value for your company.

To learn more about our business opportunities and services, visit our page here.