Becoming a Better Change Agent (How do I get more change to happen)
I was recently leading a Webinar called Agile Leaders Dialogue. (Please come next time.)
This topic (change) came up. So, I wanted to review with you my main suggestions.
A Learned Skill
Becoming a better change agent is a learned skill.
Yes, maybe some people are naturally better at it. Maybe they have practiced it more. But in any case, you can learn and become better.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Q: How do you become a writer? A: Write!
It’s not easy
So, often people ask this question (how to make more change happen) after they have tried to make change happen, and not been so successful.
First: Have some sympathy for yourself. People are stubborn. It is hard to get change to happen. In your direction.
Good news (and bad news): You don’t control people. You are not the dictator. So, relax. You are not expected to convince people instantly.
This does not mean you cannot have some success, even more success. Just, it always takes time.
May God bless you with patience!
Use what you already know
Have more confidence in yourself.
You already know many things about making change happen.
Clarify (to yourself) what you know and what you can do.
And then do it more. With more love and patience. And express it from the other person’s viewpoint. (Yes, you knew that already. Just reminding you.)
Just Do It
This is advice that everyone gives.
Don’t wait for permission. Just try to do it now. That is, just do that new agile thing now. Or start doing Scrum now.
One related idea: results speak for themselves.
Also, sometimes you see your idea is … not right, and at least you avoid the embarrassment of talking at people for a long time, and later learn you were all wet.
Ex: Grab some volunteers and start doing Scrum.
Show Up and Practice
Yes, you must show up every day. 80% of life is showing up.
And just work at it. Every day (ok, more frequently than you do now).
And in doing that, you will become better.
Taiichi Ohno is the great master who made all that change happen at Toyota. Unbelievable amount of change.
Wow. If he can do all that, you for sure can do some share of that.
Remember he did it over decades. Be patient. Change will come to all.
Thomas Edison: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Taiichi Ohno’s advice. Go to your colleague and make your case for the (specific) change. Usually, he (or she) will not like your idea, and instead will propose their own idea. Usually, you cannot convince them. So, propose an experiment. You will try one of the ideas first. If it works (based on facts), then we continue it. If it does not work, we try the other idea. Based on results.
Few people can resist the idea of trying an experiment to see if we can make things better.
Big advantage: You don’t waste a lot of time talking at people.
Mr. Kotter is probably the foremost expert in the world on change in medium to large organizations.
He says it is hard, and that most change initiatives fail. (Not because they should fail or must fail, but mostly because we do not go about making the change very well.)
He proposes the famous 8 Steps. Google “Kotter 8 Steps”: https://www.kotterinc.com/8-step-process-for-leading-change/
And see this: https://hbr.org/1995/05/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail-2
Also read his most famous book: Leading Change.
Or one of his many many other books. Or watch his videos (I know some are free on internet).
More Fearless Change
There are actually many people who are VERY experienced at getting change to happen.
In this case, we have another book. This one by Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising. Called: More Fearless Change.
It has about 60 patterns for getting change to happen.
Each one is small, but powerful. Each one is fairly easy. In fact, you have probably used 16 of the patterns already.
Try one new pattern per day. Easy peasy.
The best advice is always a song, because you can always deny what you meant, and they can always interpret it to make you smarter than you were.
So, here goes: “Nice and easy does it every time.” https://open.spotify.com/track/5Z7bkW3dsu8jLdv3dEGxly?si=21b7bc677cca4453
Don’t push them, pull them.
A bit like dancing with a partner. A little bit your way, a little bit her (his) way.
Don’t growl, smile.
Invite them to give it a try, and see for themselves.
Ok, then: Lady Gaga: “Just dance, it’ll be alright…” Keep dancing.
There is a LOT more help out there. More books, and good ones. Other help.
But you don’t need more help now.
Take what you have now, use it, learn to make it work. Practice. Practice. Practice.