Planning requires a new mindset: Lean Change Management

By: Emilio Chávez

Can you imagine a planning process that can be exactly executed as it was originally designed? Neither do I.

Now more than ever we are immersed in a context of frequent changes. Therefore, I dare say that plans – at least as we traditionally know them – are less reliable time and again.

This happens because any change in the environment, no matter how small, results in activities, resources and planned times that are partially or totally obsolete: In short, they no longer work.

Therefore those problems that were to be avoided with planning are magnified, we have less efficiency and the appearance of unforeseen obstacles, to name a few inconveniences.

For people who have been working for a lifetime, it is strange how something that used to work, now is of little use.

The question then arises: is planning something that has been left in the past? Doesn’t it work anymore?

How do we plan?

I think few people would dare throw planning away. In one way or another, we still need to ensure the best use of our resources, as individuals and as companies, while reconciling the need to respond to changes in the environment.

The question is not whether planning works or not; but how we plan.

It is not trivial. Let’s try to establish the stages of traditional planning:

  • With a goal in mind we pick activities, managers and execution times.
  • Then we try to carry out the activities as the established plan says.
  • Along the way we encounter unforeseen events and changes in the environment.
  • At the end we execute different activities than those planned.

It is a linear process, a static process, without changes or adjustments. At its core, It is a contradiction: static planning vs. constant changes.

What would happen if instead of establishing a priori activities, under our criteria or the criteria of your team, we better determine the potential impact of an activity and the potential learning of that activity, which allow us to redirect our efforts as we go?

What if planning was dynamic rather than static?

It’s easy to visualize the benefit: plans that respond to change.

And by responding to changes, activities align with what you intend to achieve. Is this possible?

Agile Change Management

Jason Little is a speaker and expert on change management issues. In his book Lean Change Management (2014) he proposes a methodology so that change becomes agile through feedback planning, which is based on learning.

Lean Change Management takes concepts from existing philosophies and methodologies, and creates a framework that allows to reconcile two topics that are normally difficult to align: the strategy of a company and the day-to-day operation.

The result is a planning and execution process that is dynamic: it adapts and learns from the work that is made.

This video explains it in more detail:

Joao Gama is an expert on change management who designed a methodology based on concepts raised by Jason Little. Given his experience as an entrepreneur and practitioner of methodologies such as Agile and Scrum, Lean Change Management was very familiar to him.

For Astrolab it is very important to constantly know what the latest trends are in change management and other fields. When I was asked to attend a course by Joao, it seemed like an excellent idea, although in reality my expectation was low, because every methodology about change management out there, are all the same.

Learning in San Antonio

Gerardo and I signed up for the workshop in Mexico City, however, for various reasons the workshop had to be canceled. Joao then invited us to attend his next workshop, in San Antonio, Texas.

When we got to the first session, I realized we were the youngest in the group. Most of the participants were people with more than 20 years of experience, which seemed counterintuitive to me.

I would think that in this kind of workshops about these trendy topics, there would be younger people. Somehow I found it outstanding that people with several years of experience were given the opportunity to learn about new methodologies for managing change.

Joao Gama during a Lean Change Management workshop in Barcelona, ​​in July 2016. Photo by @ignasipardo

On the first day, we learned the fundamentals of the methodology, we participated with our colleagues as different dynamics took place and we understood how complexity, which is seen as a promoter of tension, must be considered as a source of discoveries and learning which empower companies and teams to improve.

Finally, by the second day we had the opportunity to solve a case using the Lean Change Management methodology.

The most relevant thing for me was understanding that in complex environments, it is useless to plan and execute without adapting the plan, rather it must be co-created and adapted based on learning discoveries obtained from implementation activities.

We arrived the first day looking for new tools to manage change but we left with something that goes far and beyond: A new approach and mindset for managing change, which incorporates business strategy and helps prioritize actions that allow us to maximize value for our clients, always placing people at the center of decision making.

About the author

Emilio Chávez

COO & Sr. Consultant

Emilio tiene una pasión por entender temas complejos. Es un excelente maestro, le gusta mucho ayudar a otros a desarrollar nuevas competencias y habilidades. 🎯

18 de June de 2020


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