Get ready to amp up your Super Bowl Sunday with a side of strategic expertise and a dash of celebrity excitement! This episode isn't just about football and pop stars—it's a playbook for change agents looking to master Lean Change Management. Imagine navigating the complexities of organizational change with the precision of a quarterback on game day. We're going deep into real-world conundrums faced by change agents like you, dissecting the reliability of tools like visualizing work and Lean Coffee. These aren’t just methods; they're your MVPs for sparking dialogue and building consensus around change. But remember, even star players have their off days. I'll reveal when these tools might drop the ball and offer strategies to ensure your game plan is robust enough to handle any play.
Ever wondered what makes a change agent not just good, but great? This episode is where secrets are revealed. Picture yourself leading your team to victory by solving problems, not just executing tasks. Discover the art of engaging with teams, fostering an environment that’s not just open to communication but thrives on it. I'll share a game-changing moment from my time at the Amplifying Your Effectiveness conference that reshaped my entire approach to change management. It's about stepping up to the scrimmage line, ready to adapt, listen, and pivot—because when it comes to organizational change, it's not about you, it's about the team. So lace up your cleats and get ready to tackle change with the finesse of a halftime show and the impact of a winning touchdown.
Jason Little is an internationally acclaimed speaker and author of Lean Change Management, Change Agility and Agile Transformation: 4 Steps to Organizational Transformation. That Change Show is a live show where the topics are inspired by Lean Change workshops and lean coffee sessions from around the world. Video versions on Youtube
All right, welcome to the Super Bowl Sunday edition of that chain show. That's right, it's Sunday, february 11th. The Super Bowl is today and let me put your minds at ease. Taylor did make it to the game. So good on her. I don't know what the over-under is on the proposal. Should the Chiefs win, and maybe even if they don't win, maybe that's a good consolation prize, although I don't know. Marrying Taylor Swift would be pretty cool because she's pretty awesome. But I think the fun thing about this whole thing is how upset all the football people are. I'm a football fan too, but I think it's great. People are so tired of Kelsey doing the little heart thingy anytime he scores and stuff like that. I think it's great. Anything that brings more fans into the game, even temporarily, I think, is a good thing. But let's get into this week's episode. So when I started this podcast, all I needed needed was a laugh. As the episodes went by, I say it kicks some ass. Hopefully you got that reference. But it's time to rock and roll with the original intent of this podcast, which was taking change, challenges and questions from people, from our Lean Coffee Tool and insights from our self-study training and questions and all that stuff and answering real world questions from change agents. So what I did is I built a little tool that takes any questions that were not marked as private and this just will randomly pick. I don't even know how many are in here. There's gotta be easily a few thousand. So what I'm gonna do is basically just set a time box and try not to go over 20 minutes or so and just randomly start picking questions and answering them. So enough preamble, let's get into these. So the ones on the screen here. The first question is and I know who this came from because I attend this person's Lean Coffee's all the time, and this person always precedes the questions, even though that's wrong for doing Lean Coffee, but anyway, it's kind of a running joke that we have. So what's the one Lean Change Management Tool that always works? And I always answer this with three and number one visualizing work always works, no matter what, doesn't matter if you're remote, if you're in person. As soon as you scoop the information out of people's heads and plaster it on a wall, maybe in a less violent way, that gives you a single source of truth. That makes it easier for you to make decisions. Now, obviously, it's a little bit harder with hybrid and everybody working remote, but with Miroboards, whatever collaboration tools you're using, plus, I think today's workforce is more used to these remote tools, at least the younger workforce. They've grown up using these tools, whereas people my age or older we miss that in person contact. But visualizing work always works. Usually. There's some, I guess, backlash around, the information not being correct or thinking that the visualization has created this problem and it's really just sort of magnified it. So, number one, I would say visualization for sure. And actually this tool that we're using, lean Coffee, always works too, now again, when it's used properly. So don't precede the questions and this person knows that I'm talking to them and hopefully the latter comment on the YouTube video but visualization and Lean Coffee always, always, always work because they promote dialogue and they get people chatting about the single source of truth, about what's going on with the change. Let's see when. Might we not use LeanChange agent tools for our CM work? I would say this is a tough one to answer, because normally what I'll say for this is if you have lots of uncertainty, leanchange tools tend to work because that's what they're designed for. They're designed to be feedback-driven tools, not plan and push-driven tools. The caveat with that is sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking about a change is a lot easier than it actually is and we think when we're getting started with this change we can plan our way through the whole thing up front. So I want to say the answer is when there are not a lot of unknowns, when it's repeatable work, you know you're moving printers from the first floor to the second floor, you're doing a hardware rollout. This is obviously gonna be an old story because I used to do this. We used to do desktop refreshments basically. So our company would go on site and we might replace like 1,000 desktop computers and stuff. Getting people together to do a change canvas in a lean coffee session and all this type of stuff and using the tools doesn't make a lot of sense. It's just assign the work by grids, basically because we'd be doing this in like warehouse-sized organizations and just grid the work up, divvied up, go do it. You can kind of plan your way through that. Now you're always gonna run into stuff when that's the case and we always did Like maybe the network patch wasn't working well or somebody forgot to put the cable in the box and all that kind of stuff, but it's a more plan-driven approach might work better there. So when you get into other kinds of changes, like just project-based change, where we think we can plan our way through it, it is most definitely not the case, because we end up having the change management schedule, the project management schedule, the technology team schedule, the business readiness schedule. So using a big visible wall, merging all that stuff, using swim lanes to manage all the work that tends to work, I would say. The other time to not use the tools is when people just don't get it. So I did some work in an organization where they wanted to implement change agility, for example, enterprise organization, big team and it was basically the comfort level of the stakeholders I shouldn't say stakeholders the comfort level of the leaders, of the project sponsors, because I think everybody who's involved in a project or in a change is a stakeholder. So if the leaders are more conservative or the project sponsors more conservative, they might not feel safety in not having a gigantic plan. I always like to make the joke if you've ever seen the movie Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield where he hires the guy to who actually created the theory in one of his classes to write the paper and the guy comes in with a stack of papers and Rodney Dangerfield picks it up and kind of weighs it in his hand and goes, hmm, add a couple more pounds to it. So for some people, safety in a gigantic plan is a good thing. I actually worked in one financial organization where the head of HR said we can't run this as an agile project. And when I poked him about it, basically the response was if we eff up payroll for 80,000 people and we used a new process, that's worse than if we eff it up using the existing process, because right away the question is gonna be you idiot, why didn't you use our tried and true standardized process? So it's not just about the actual work, but it's also the sentiment about how the stakeholders or sorry, the leaders or the project sponsors might interpret lighter weight tools as not being enough, thorough enough. Okay, let's get into the next one. I'm just gonna do a time check. Yep, we're doing chugging along pretty good. So what is the most important skill to have as an OCM consultant? That's difficult because there isn't one important skill to have, but if I was backed into a corner and had to say, I would say curiosity more than anything else. Well, hmm, curiosity and or problem solving, which I guess, if you wanted to spin it the right way, you could say those two are the same things, because that's what you're being hired to do. I was actually just on the intergame of change podcast last week. By the time my show airs, it's probably not out there yet. It's probably gonna be out in a couple of weeks. I'll update the show notes so you can go back and check those links out. And this was the ending. What's your advice to change agents? And I said realize that you are being brought in to help solve problems. You're not being brought into quote unquote execute a change. That might be what is being asked of you. Or, if you're an internal change agent, you're being assigned to a project. You're being assigned to execute a change, but that's not what the organization, the team or the project really needs. They need somebody who is a good problem solver, that knows how to work in the white space, that can go in and get their hands dirty and not worry about the tasks and the process, but really help people make sense of where they're at and then help them figure out how to solve those problems. So let me refresh this page. This is just set to random, by the way, so it's just going into the back end and it's grabbing five random questions from a sample of I don't know a few thousand easily. Oh, this question is gonna be easy. So the question was number three, and I think number three is a good number. I mean, if you really think about it, if you're trying to come up with options, you can do that. You wanna turn into experiments? If you have one, you have no options. If you have two, you have a choice. If you have three or more, then you have options, and that is shamelessly stolen from Jerry Weinberg, who said this in, I think, becoming a Change Artist. Anyway, jokes aside, let's get to these other ones. Can Aleen Koffee work with teams who are frustrated with the change? Yes, provided it's done right, maybe it's. Maybe a retrospective might be more appropriate. Now it depends on how frustrated people are with the change. But a lean coffee, I mean it's designed to generate dialogue from the people who are attending the session. It's not plan or agenda driven like typical meetings, so depends if people want to feel free to speak up or not. So our tool actually allows you to add these questions anonymously, so you don't have to worry about who says what In a meeting forum if you're in person. Sticky notes. What you can do is you can have people write their questions on stickies but put them in a hat or a box or something like that and then randomize them so nobody knows who wrote what. Typically, you write the questions on stickies, people would bring them up to the wall and paste them on the wall. But if there's a high level of frustration or anger or whatever, those are a couple of ways you can do it. And really the hard part with this is the word frustrated in this question, because that can mean, you know, are they just mildly annoyed? Are they, metaphorically speaking, violently angry? It really depends. But there's something there that's not right and a dialogue creating type of session always seems to work better, provided you can get those things out. It might even be a good idea to actually host a lean coffee session with the project sponsor, the top stakeholder, the top leader, whatever it is. And again, take this with a grain of salt it's really gonna have to depend on your culture and how your culture accepts having those types of hard conversations. For me, I dive in. Yeah, if people are pissed off about something, then you're damn right. I want the leaders to be able to hear that, because I find the higher up you go in an organization, the less they care about this. I've had change agents say things like well, what if somebody asks a really hard question or a rude question in a lean coffee or an open forum? I'm like great, that's exactly what you wanna get. Now, if it's a rogue employee who's just being a dick, then that's different. But if that's reflecting the actual sentiment of people and there's just somebody that actually wants to speak up on behalf of everybody else, I think that's a great thing. So they can work really well, but know your culture and know how it's going to react to those types of questions. What's wrong with your team? That's a good question, because the team is just me and a bunch of AI and automation scripts. So I've been asked this question a lot. What's wrong with you, jason, and I really don't know. I've been to therapy and now I'm just joking that's obviously I don't know what that is. But let's go to the one before that what is the best advice you've received? Being new at change management, oh, this is a good one. So if you've read any of my stuff. You know I'm a gigantic fan of AYE, which I went to in the mid 2000s-ish I think, and it's Amplifier Effectiveness. It's a I don't even wanna call it a conference. It's an experience that was hosted by Jerry Weinberg, Esther Derby, johanna Rothman, don Gray and Steve Smith and it was small, so no more than 75 people, all experiential, all just about change, and I remember each person got to have one-on-ones with the hosts because it was such a small environment. And I think it was near the end of the week when I had my one-on-one with Esther Derby. Esther Derby wrote Agile Retrospectives and probably co-wrote Behind Closed Doors with Johanna Rothman, which is still, to this day, probably the best management and leadership book out there. But anyway, it was near the end of the week. I was so jazzed up with all these ideas and I had my one-on-one and I remember saying something like how do I go inflict these ideas on the people in my organization so we can be better? And Esther just in her calm way said, jason, it's not about you. And that was like a frying pan to the head moment for me, for sure, and it really completely changed my approach for change it was. It really made me think. Something I mentioned earlier in the podcast was about being a problem solver. That's the best skill for an Ocm person, and that advice from Esther far and away the best, because it just changed my whole stance, which I thought was great. Okay, let's do a quick time check. All right, we're hitting about 15-ish minutes or so, so I'm gonna just refresh this one more time and let's see what happens. These to wrap up this episode. So why LCM is so famous and how you get this wonderful idea of connecting with Agile. Ooh, that's good. What a great question. Why is it so famous? Oh geez, I have no idea. I don't even think it's that famous really. I mean, we've been around for 15 years and people are just discovering it now, but they get the wonderful idea of connecting with Agile. So the main thing as far as connecting it with Agile was basically stealing the mojito method from Juergen Appalo. So when he wrote Management 3.0, all the ideas were existing ideas. He just took them and cherry picked a bunch and repackaged them up as Management 3.0, more or less, and that was kind of the whole point. The mojito method is the sum of the pieces of the ideas that you pick are better than the individual ideas themselves, and by stealing stuff from Lean, startup and Agile and design thinking and stuff. That's really where it came from, because there's a lot of great ideas in those communities. There's a lot of great ideas in the change communities and the Ocm communities and HR. There's a lot of crappy ones too. So why don't we just take the things that are the most relevant for our contexts and package those things up and make an approach that's most likely to work? Okay, let's do one more refresh and get into the wrap up. Ah, oh, what's your favorite food? Hmm, that would be a tough one. I made a really, really good carne asada the other day, which is just basically flank steak with a bunch of seasoning stuff on it and you just flash grill it. It was good, so now let's do the one above that. So what are some tips or insights for a new change practitioner still learning the ropes of change? This is a tough one. For me, it is don't learn about methods and tools and frameworks If you're new. I don't want to say learn about all the people stuff too, but I would say you know, dive in and avoid tools and practices and methods and all that stuff because it's really gonna bias you towards what I see a lot in the change world, which is people are, you know, they fall in love with the first framework and steps that they use and then that's all they see. Now the blinders are on. They're not gonna be able to step outside that and when they're faced with a situation where those tools aren't adequate, they don't know what to do. They just keep trying to hammer on those tools and then blame people for resisting. So if you're just learning the ropes of change, look at Virginia Satire's work. Look at PSL, which is problem solving leadership that Esther Derby and Don Gray are still running. Look at I don't want to call them soft skills because that's not right but understand conflict resolution, understand human behavior, learn how to be relatable to people, but avoid the tools and the practices and stuff like that in the frameworks. I think I've met a lot of really good people who say they're new to change but they're probably I don't want to say better than some 20 year experience people I've met but what they have is they don't know what they don't know. They just love people. They have great people skills and they think they're novice with change and it's kind of that wide eyed curiosity. I think that works really well. So if I had to say that, yeah, definitely, avoid those tools and practices and all that kind of stuff and just focus on the human elements, all right, so that's it for this week's episode of that change show, hope, getting back to the basics was useful. Stick around for next week. So next week I'm gonna be interviewing Lori from Pandatron, which is an AI coaching tool, and that should be an absolute riot. So we're gonna totally geek out on some AI stuff and remember to hit, like and subscribe if you're watching this on LeanChange TV or on our YouTube channel, and you can head over to thatchainshowcom for all the show notes and information and to check out previous episodes. So, all right, here we go, let's see what happens. I'll do the intro next week with did it happen? Did they get married? No, sorry, they get engaged, I should say. Anyway, enjoy the Super Bowl. We're gonna head out and visit some friends and family and stuff. For today, so that's it. I'm your host, jason Little, and I'm wrapping up now and I'm gonna stop talking. See you next time.