The Key Elements of Agile Change Design

The speed and the amount of change requires a different facilitation of change as well. I deliberately use the word 'facilitation', since I believe change can no longer be managed in the same way as before. I'd rather talk about change design and facilitation, using methods from agile and design thinking to guide the change that we can no longer predict. We cannot manage the waves, we can only ride the waves.


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The Key Elements of Agile Change Design

The world is changing, business is changing and also change itself is changing. Just as much as a specific strategy can be made redundant by a changing environment or competition, huge change plans made months in advance that are implemented top down over the course of a year or more, are history. We need to facilitate the change instead of managing it. And we need to design experiments and quickly learn from them instead of working with a master plan and an army of checklists. In this article, I shortly describe the key components of this modern version of change management: agile change design.

Modern Change Management: Designing & Facilitating Change


Agile Change Design

I will write more broadly about each element in next articles, for now, I summarize each topic shortly to allow the overview and discussion. These are the 6 key elements of agile change design (in my opinion), summarized in the acronym CHANGE.


The whole idea of change management needs to be turned around. In an environment where basic trust is available and for initiatives in which behavioral change is a key component, co-creation is the best way to get to the emotional connection needed for people to make a change.


People should be put at the center of change again. For some strange reason, change management has been ‘projectized’ and is trapped  in plans, processes and checklists. Many change managers are locked in rooms behind spreadsheets, instead of being in the middle of the action, with the people, to understand their needs and wants and ‘feel’ what needs to be done instead of ’thinking’ their way through it.


One big plan for the coming year or year and a half, that’s evaluated per quarter is a big waste of time and energy. Modern change guidance needs a change vision and strategy, that can be adapted along the way, based on immediate feedback on change interventions.


We need to think ahead if training, communication, coaching, and other guidance is really needed for every change. Especially when it comes to changing behaviors, simple nudges (nonetheless not so simply designed) can help you move forward faster and save a lot of time with people.


Instead of managing a change plan, we need to guide the organization through the change, at all levels. It’s more than communication and training, it’s reaching out a helping hand, especially to those people who need it the most. It’s making it easy for people to ask questions, to find information and to learn and lead.


One size fits all works for clothes around bodies, but not for approaches around change. Each person is different, has different drivers, emotional states, learning styles, etc. Understanding human behavior is crucial. Some insights can be found in science, other insights need to be derived from own experiments in the organization.


This is a short overview and explanation of the key elements I see in Agile Change Design. As mentioned before, each key element will be elaborated on in depth in the next articles. In the meantime, feel free to comment on this first direction.

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