November 2, 2017 – Disclaimer: I’m not a scrum master. I’m not even a very good source if you want to talk ‘agile’. It’s only in the last five months since I’ve been working for Twill, that I have begun to understand what ‘working Agile’ means for me.
What I lack in the agile arena, I make up for in change management.
Change management has been my focus not only professionally but also academically over the last 5 years. Now that I have a chance to combine the agile world with the need for change management, I’m discovering that an agile way of working is actually a great way to do change management.
Let me explain.
Changing the way we work
Agile is all about development and I would argue that development is equal to change, but it has to happen step by step, with user feedback. The idea is to develop our ways of working in short sprints – send ideas and updates out to our users, get their feedback, and then pivot based on that feedback. Not surprisingly, this method of keeping our users close as we all go through an evolution, encourages them to evolve with us, step by step.
In the process of developing Twill, we are in effect asking customers to change the way they handle their freight. We are asking freight forwarding professionals to change their way of working. And we’re asking employees to change their way of servicing their customers. That is a lot of change – but it is change that they inspire and request! And that is the agile way of growing: grow quickly and be ready to adapt when the users show you that their needs have changed.
Translating our users’ needs
This blog post was inspired by a colleague who approached me and told me that Twill had a reputation of being good at change management and she wanted to understand what methodology we were using.
In formulating my answer, I realised that I couldn’t really say that we consciously chose a specific model from my text books. But upon further discussion, I realized that the aspect that she understood as effective change management came as a result of our agile way of working.
When we travel around the world to introduce Twill to our users, it has become known that we don’t promise a finished solution, or a 5-year vision. Even we do not know what the product will look like in few months. It’s all about the translation of user needs, not company ambition. Instead, we honestly explain that we want to build a product that makes shipping simple. And to do that, we need our users’ help to know what to build that adds most value. That’s agile. That’s good change management.
Taking our customers on the journey
In any change management model, we are taught to communicate honestly, listen to people, give them space to voice their concerns, and help them understand what it means to “me”.
In our agile way of working, we can’t over-promise on what the end result will look like, because we need our customers’ help to get there. We can’t develop a tool unless we listen to our users and understand their pain points. We must understand what our new product means for them, in order to make it better.
Change is not easy, but when people can truly give input to the transformation that is coming their way, it’s at least easier to understand. And when the required change is agile enough to adjust with people’s input, it’s undoubtedly a better change.
-Barbara Peric, Head of Operations