By Laura Elliott, November 20, 2017
Organizational change can be so intimidating. It requires more than just process change implementation, but also—and perhaps more so—behavioral buy-in across a team. These changes, if done poorly, can invite fear into the culture and encourage resistance and detachment from the process.
One technique we have employed at Menlo Innovations when making large changes to our process is to introduce them as experiments. This language frames the change as temporary and changeable based on results, rather than a sweeping, permanent shift. This also invites feedback and active involvement in the change. Experiments are made to be iterated upon, to be improved. But this requires an openness from leadership to listen to those undergoing the change and react in real time to their feedback. People resist being changed, but when given the agency to craft and iterate upon the experiment itself, power is returned, and people begin to take ownership.
In addition, by enabling and even encouraging your teams to give feedback on the experiments being run, it is more likely you will begin solving the right problems. Too often organizations implement a process change as a blanket fix but that only solves some of the issues in a less-than-satisfactory way. Remember to identify who you serve: typically, during major organizational changes, you serve your employees. They are the users of this new process and getting their feedback is critical to gaining their buy-in as well as success.
Think Outside the Box
And finally: don't be afraid to experiment outside the box. Agile works. But every organization needs to discover for themselves how Agile can help them and where. It is not a one-size fits all fix. Many of Menlo's agile methodologies were used because they worked for us and solved a direct problem we were experiencing. But for other problems, Agile was not a direct solution and we had to iterate on our experiments until we could find a solution that fit.
Don't be discouraged when change is difficult and takes time. That is the nature of change. But by being open to experimentation, feedback, and new ideas, process change is not only possible, it can institute happily adopted processes that solve a direct problem and increase overall buy-in for an organization, creating more excited and empowered employees.