Epic 7: Create a Change Team


The Epic

As the change sponsor, I want voting representatives from each stakeholder group to serve on an Agile Change Team, because letting the people who will implement the change influence that change greatly increases the odds of success.

Sign with two people lifting a box with the saying, "Team Lift For Your Safety"Multiple studies have highlighted the value of involving those affected by an organizational change in the change planning. Specifically, “an authentic invitation to participate as a full member of the project/change team is the key mediating factor that link(s) participation to implementation success,” one said.[1] Upfront participation correlated with reduced resistance to change (RTC) and better results; in fact, giving people only veto power after the decision seemed to harm results.

You have begun the process by involving interested volunteers. The Change Team, which John Kotter called a “guiding coalition” and made one of his eight required organizational change (OC) steps, formalizes that input process. As mentioned before, the team is an advisory group to the change sponsor and leader, made up of voting representatives from each set of stakeholders.

The word “voting” is used loosely, merely indicating the members can speak on behalf of their organizations. These volunteers are asked to commit to:

  • Ensure they and/or their backups attend all Change Team meetings and complete all tasks they volunteer for (bearing in mind the change leader will do most of the work).
  • Communicate information and agreements made by the team to the other person when that person is absent;
  • Communicate relevant information to the managers in their organization (in addition to, rather than relying on, change leader communications).
  • Consult their organization’s leader(s) prior to major decisions, like the choice of a specific Agile system per Epic 8, or changes their organization would be asked to make.

I recommend the team be run with a light Scrum approach, requiring a monthly meeting that combines the Planning, Demo, and Retro ceremonies, but no standups. The remainder of the Agile Transformation Backlog and any added stories become the team’s backlog as of the team kickoff meeting. As described under “Transformation as an Agile Project,” the project sponsor serves as the customer, and the leader as both the Team Guide (Product Owner) and Facilitator. The members primarily provide guidance as the leader works through the stories, though they are free to volunteer for tasks. In that case the leader should check in with those people a few times during the month until done, in lieu of formal standup meetings.

Along with the value of multiple perspectives in decision-making, and the additional communication channel the team provides, its primary benefit is empowerment. Through it, everyone affected by the change will know they had a representative speaking for them and opportunities to influence the outcome indirectly, whether or not they took advantage of that.

User Story 7.1: Identify Reps for [Stakeholder Group]

As the change leader, I want a voting representative and backup identified from [stakeholder group] to ensure the group’s needs are addressed during the transformation.

Make a copy of this story (or a child story) and its tasks for each stakeholder group, filling in the name where shown. The process is to contact the group’s leader, explain the need, meet with the leader and candidates, and get commitments to the behaviors listed in the Epic 7 description. People from the group who have already been volunteering as change agents under the prior epics deserve consultation, but you still need to meet with their supervisor to get that person’s commitment. In any case, suggest asking for volunteers and only “volunteering someone” if necessary, with a preference for those who have shown a general interest in process improvements.

In larger organizations there may be different stakeholder groups within the organization of a leader who was in the Epic 6 presentation. Be prepared to repeat relevant parts from that presentation (especially Agile 101 content) for supervisors who have limited exposure to Agile. Larger organizations will likely take more than my recommended sprint length of a month (for an OC project) to fully cover; only pull as many copies into a sprint as seem reasonable to complete.

Suggested tasks:

  1. Send a short e-mail to the supervisor of the stakeholder group explaining what you are asking and why (or include it in a meeting invitation if you have a digital scheduling system), and request they invite prospective Change Team members.
  2. Unless you get a quick acceptance, call or visit with the individual to follow up on your request.
  3. During the meeting, explain the role and commitments to the supervisor and member candidates.
  4. If the group refuses to participate, inform them you will speak to the leader who made the commitment for help with resolving the impasse.
  5. Follow up until you have a representative and backup named.
  6. Add the names to a Change Team roster and publish it.

User Story 7.2: Perform Change Team Kickoff

As the change leader and stakeholder representatives, we want to decide how we will work together, so we can guide the Agile transformation effectively and efficiently.

Review the Full Scale agile™ section on kickoff meetings for background on, and the output of, this meeting. You won’t have the project charter or architectural information mentioned there. But the rest of the content and the agenda under “Kick it Off” fits this team. As explained there, the project sponsor is only asked to attend at the start to welcome the members, though the sponsor is encouraged to stay the entire meeting.

User Story 7.3: Review Representation of Change Team

As the change leader, I want to invite any other individuals or groups who might be impacted by our adoption of Agile to the Change Team, to reduce resistance to the change and spread the benefits.

As with earlier “refine/review” stories, the point to this one is to get a group perspective on the stakeholder list, and in this case ensure complete representation on the team.

This should be the first story tackled by the team together, possibly as soon as during the kickoff meeting. As you can guess, the epic is not done until any new groups have been covered. This story is only about identifying them and creating stories to contact them.

Suggested tasks:

  1. In a Change Team meeting, show the list to the team and ask if any person, organization, or role has been missed.
  2. If so, update the list and make copies of US 7.1 for each new stakeholder.
  3. Publish the updated list.

A Process for Agile Transformation | ← Epic 6 | → Epic 8

Full references are in the Agile Transformation bibliography.

[1] Lines 2004.

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