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Agile Methodology's Role in Change Management

Agile Methodology's Role in Change Management

The agile manifesto is 20 years old, but it’s more relevant today than ever. Far beyond software development, teams in various industries are embracing agile models like Scrum to improve employee engagement, productivity, margins, and time to market.

What’s driving the adoption of agile methodologies?

  • Digital transformation
  • IIoT, automation, AI and machine learning
  • Shift to hybrid work models
  • Workforce shortages and an ever-growing pressure to do more, faster, with less
  • Lead time pressures due to supply chain disruptions
  • Business intelligence and the shift to data-driven decisions

Companies are working to speed product development to strengthen their competitive advantage in a rapidly changing marketplace. Compounded by a national labor shortage, particularly in mid-level skills and a wave of retirement, employees are challenged to embrace change and do more with fewer resources.

Agile methodologies and change management are hot topics for a good reason: both promise to improve productivity and help address challenges and opportunities. But are they separate initiatives?

Agile methodologies go by many names: Scrum is the most popular, with 30-40 similar methodologies making up the remaining. Agile is both a mindset (lower case, a trait that can be cultivated that helps make change easier) and a defined approach (upper case, methodology that started in software development), both focused on collaboration, self-led teams, and prioritizing people and interactions over processes and tools; speed of MVP (minimal viable product) over checking the boxes. Both require the ability to adapt to change rapidly.

In short, agile methodologies demand agile people. And agile people are in short demand—they’ve been stretched and exhausted by re-organization, staffing shortages, and top-down pressures. They’re operating in silos, doing their best in the absence of a cohesive vision, cross-function visibility, and meaningful metrics to understand the impact of their work.

What are the barriers to agile adoption?

Agile has been found to be 1.5x more successful than models like Waterfall and Iterative, and has spread far beyond IT and software development into operations, production, HR and marketing, largely driven by digital transformation.

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The payoff is clear: faster time to market, customer satisfaction, and reduced company risk. However, 72% of organizations that have invested in an agile model report only partial adoption. What’s the barrier to realizing true ROI? Culture, consistency, and leadership.

39% lack of leadership understanding, support in clearing roadblocks
31% lack of clear priorities and plan
31% lack of business partner engagement/buy-in

Agile is a culture shift with far-reaching implications, and that change must be managed.

How do I prepare for an agile roll-out?

Agile values and principles require a change mindset:

  • Customer focus and empathy
  • Cross-functional relationships and collaboration
  • Growth mindsets—continuous learning, celebrating wins and failures without defensiveness or blame, and regular reflections on how to become more effective.
  • Accommodate changing needs, over following a prescribed plan
  • Support, trust, and motivate people involved

Implementing agile methodologies may require some investment in your people to make it stick. Change management can improve outcomes of initiatives like this by 6x.

How do I measure success with change management KPIs?

KPIs for change management can be challenging: many companies lack appropriate baseline metrics. Think about your end goals for your agile roll-out and the change management to support it. Agile KPIs may include project velocity, cycle time, and code and team health. Team health is a good change management KPI and a change in agile maturity scores. 

Getting Started with Agile

  • Taking a pulse: are your employees ready to embrace change? Are they engaged, satisfied with their roles, and empowered to lead the charge? An employee survey and interviews can inform your roll-out plan.
  • Sponsor from the top: Even though changes like agile initiatives need to be self-led, they demand a high-level sponsor with a clear vision.
  • “What’s in it for me?”: Like any change plan, you must get personal and specific about impact, expectations, and pay-offs.

Ready to get started? Ask for a consult.

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Launch Team has worked with leaders looking to implement changes, improve employee engagement and productivity, and roll out changes like agile models with implications to internal and external stakeholders. Learn more.

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