Organizational Change & Scrum Standard Work: An Experiment

Our team is leading the transformation to Agile, Lean, Scrum and SAFe in our company. It’s been an undulating ride of great successes and matrixed challenges. There is a ton of work to do, a long journey ahead. Being a change leader on this team is the best adventure I’ve had in a long time.

Over the last two years, we have iterated through several versions of what it means to be this team. Our latest experiment is to run ourselves like a scrum team. We’re not perfect scrum, but in the name of limiting work in process, increasing our focus, and pulling the work most valuable to our customers, we’re giving it a try. One of the major changes we made was (once again) to our visual management, and, to our definition of done.

DOD

With any change, there is opportunity to introduce new behaviors of both the team and our stakeholders and sponsors. So, with our new definition of done, was there a way to improve how organizational change (org change) works within our team? We have a vision and a strategy, but how to best support the incredible transformation our company is experiencing? More importantly, how to make it stick? Also, our company has adopted PROSCI as the methodology for change management…how does that fit into this work?

Our product owner wanted to raise the bar on our team’s org change game, so she was amiable to experiment on what will work best. My org change experiment started with two simple steps, both with the potential of having great impact, if embraced by the team.

First, include an organizational change consult in the definition of done, instead of being considered after something is done. This way, org change work is part of the pull, instead of being a roadblock for our team. Plus, the org change lead now has access to the most relevant work in our transformation.

ORGCHANGESCRUM

 

Second, to help everyone on the team start thinking this way, I bravely stuck a task labeled “What is the org change opportunity?” on each of the stories on our board. Well, that freaked them out. Even though everyone had approved our definition of done last week. It was the reality of the change. Yes, we are really doing this!

“What does that mean?”
“That wasn’t on there before.”

No sense arguing, for this was about our team transitioning to a new behavior. It wasn’t going to be easy.

Then came the sideways-orange-sticky-note with a question mark next to our definition of done. This was definitely not going to be easy. What if they came after me with pitchforks and torches?

After more discussion about how org change work should be part of the pull, not a roadblock or an afterthought, tensions eased a bit. After reminding that it was an experiment and a way for our team to continuously improve, even more tensions eased. In fact, I had my first org change consult later that day. Since we are collocated, it was a matter of two team members walking over to my desk, asking if I had a few minutes. They shared with me some really great work happening in this sprint, but more importantly, work slated for future sprints. This is the sweet spot of org change in scrum: seeing  the work. Of course things can and will change, but if you don’t want to feel whipped around, talking about the work is essential.

I’m not sure this experiment is a success yet, but the past attempts to get team members to consider org change during our sprints have been marginally successful at best. And, without the direct involvement of my team, I was guessing at what was the next right thing. Now, there is a form of pull for org change in place, and abundant opportunity to offer value added, relevant org change work.


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