A Component of Agile Organizations

Change Management as a Component of Agile Organizations

Infographics are great for communicating a great deal of information in one place. What this infographic from PMI’s Thought Leadership series tells me about agile organizations is that the principles of change management are integral to the culture of a truly agile organization.

When I first took my Prosci ADKAR Change Management training, we performed a change readiness assessment of the org charts for 3 different real-life projects our class brought to the table. We used red-yellow-green indicators at each level of the org chart to indicate whether or not that manager supported the change in question.

In my break-out group, as our project manager delved into how well his business sponsor supported the change and updated that sponsor’s color from green to yellow, I watched as he then updated his own resistance level to red. That red then cascaded down the org chart to the line-man who would be most impacted by the change.

This planted the seed in my head that later took root as we examined the org chart of the other two projects in the class- If you don’t perceive that your manager fully supports the change, then your own willingness to support a change you previously believed in wavers. Every point in the org charts we saw where there was a yellow player, the subordinates to that manager turned red. We strive to please our managers, and we look to our leadership for direction and strategy. We assume that our leaders know more about the vision and context of a change than we do, and so we look to them for direction on whether or not to embrace that change.

So for me, when I look at this infographic, and I see that executive trust in project leadership is a call-out for the up-and-coming in the industry, I think about how culture is a top-down phenomenon. The moment we sense from our executives that the trust isn’t there, the change readiness dissolves. We go from being a proactive, learning culture to a defensive, reactive culture that would rather stick to the status-quo than risk the disapproval of our leadership.

To mitigate this perception, then, is the communication aspect of change. Open communication at all levels about risks allows leadership to build risk management plans, including the risk that not everyone in the organization will hear the same message of change. As employees, we want to hear both from our top-level management that the change is important to the organization and from our direct supervisor what the change means to us specifically.

Some team members will be on-board from the say-so of the executive sponsor, others will need to hear it from their manager 2 or 3 times and after asking several questions before they’re ready to even consider the change. And that’s alright, that’s why encouraging open communication as part of the company culture is key to building an agile organization. If our team members are too afraid of retaliation to ask the burning questions about how the change impacts them, then they won’t get the answers they need to fully adapt to the change.

Throughout all of this communication, it helps when an organization is customer-centric. It gives the entire organization a common goal to work towards that lays the foundation for the message of change.

“Why are we changing?”

“Because the customer’s needs have changed”

Everyone gets that message. The customer needs something else? Well, if we can’t provide it, then we lose the sale. If we lose the sale, we don’t make any money. If we don’t make any money, how are the bills getting paid?

Regardless of whether your team members truly care about the customer’s experience, they do care about the business’ bottom-line. Tying your culture of change to this relatable goal increases the chances that the message will be received, regardless of how they feel about the change itself.


What else can you unpack from this infographic? Leave your thoughts in the comments.