Responsible Change (Executive Report)

by Christopher M. Avery, Senior Consultant, Cutter Consortium 
Agile Product & Project Management Executive Summary Vol. 6, No. 10 

Expensive flaws persist in our collective, prevailing assumptions about change. We overwhelmingly view change as something for us to do to the organization, hence the popularity of the doubtful metaphor “managing change.”

In this Executive Report, prepared for an East coast think-tank, I examine descriptive and prescriptive models of change from noted authorities in order to address three questions. I conclude the prevailing model of change “management” is broken, and provide an agile alternative based on the principles of The Leadership Gift™.
Some readers have remarked it is one of the best commentaries on organizational change they have read.

Details

  • 32 pages
  • 9 illustrations/models
  • 25 Operating Principles
  • 11 Recommendations for Agile and Responsible Change

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Executive Summary

Expensive flaws persist in our collective, prevailing assumptions about change. We overwhelmingly view change as something for us to do to the organization, hence the popularity of the doubtful metaphor “managing change.” In the accompanying Executive Report, I examine descriptive and prescriptive models of change from noted authorities in order to address three questions:

  • Are there reliable operating assumptions about dealing with change, and, if so, what are they and how do you apply them?
  • Are there fundamentally different approaches or philosophies for dealing with change, and, if so, how do you recognize and choose among them?
  • What’s worth paying attention to when attempting to change a traditional IT organization into an agile one?

Since the term “change” is seldom defined, I created the following temporary vernacular about types of change:

  • Abstract change (changeA) — how the change industry frequently talks about change (i.e., in the abstract)
  • Contextual change (changeC) — when we talk about attempting to accomplish a specific change; context always matters
  • Imposed change (changeI) — the experience of not having a choice to change

Operating Assumptions

The report presents 25 operating assumptions worth understanding and applying to change attempts. The operating assumptions are sorted into 5 areas:

  • Change as an executive competency
  • Descriptive models of change
  • Prescriptive models of change
  • Emergence as a metaphor for organizational change
  • Becoming agile

The report concludes with suggestions for applying the operating assumptions and lessons from agile (i.e., emergent) approaches to change in order to become a more agile IT organization.

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