We dig deeper into the 'how to change ways of working' poster with more detail and some downloadable tools to use.
This pages takes you through our approach to implementing change, how to approach it and how to do it.
This is not a theory of how to do it, it's a real example we have used within organisations.
Our aim is to share the practical side of agile with you.
Remember don't jump straight into change without first working out a strategy. This can be a challenge for some people as the will to improve and make change for the good can take over. However how do you know you are making changes for the right reason and are solving the real problems without first gathering some data.
One important aspect of implementing change is bringing people on the journey with you, you need to be able to tell your story (approach) to get people on board and get them to help shape it with you. Change can be hard and draining, the more people to help, support and generate ideas the better but be warned not everyone will be on board. Some people just don't like change and people go through the change curve at different paces.
We designed a six step approach to take on the challenge to change the current ways of working for a scaled agile service with over 10 scrums teams working from a single backlog. Below we explain the reasoning for the six stages we identified:
Review - mapping out the current ways of working ensures their is a baseline and ensures people have the same understanding of how you currently work and why (its important to understand the why).
Data - gathering data is important, how do you know what the problems are without asking people? Gathering data will identify common problems and themes and help to judge their size. It provides the foundation to work from and start implementing change.
Vision - always have a vision to work towards. To change your ways of working you need to know where you are heading, think about the future not just the short term changes.
Identify - work out the impact of the data you have gathered. Understanding the impact helps drive priority, allowing focus on the opportunities for change and how to approach them.
Plan - You need to plan how you implement change, what is the best time to do it, who needs to be involved and what needs to happen? Don't change to much at once, start small and gain feedback.
Learn - it is essential to learn what we can from the changes made. Not all changes improve but we can learn something from them all. Decide in advanced a hypothesis and a point in time to review the change and learn.
With the approach defined share it with your organisation to gain buy in and generate interest. Making the approach visual gets peoples attention, then ensure to market your approach by printing and placing around the office or posting to online boards.
With the approach agreed the next focus is the tools to use at each stage. Doing this in advance as a group helps generate ideas, discuss details, learn together and share. Although we suggest doing these in advance it doesn't mean they cannot be changed at a later point in time, after all this is agile.
Identifying tools is challenging - how do we know which tool to use and where to start. Spend some time doing your research and talking to others for ideas. However don't delay for long as the key is to start with something and see if it works for you, if not try the next tool or even create your own.
We will explain a little about the tools we used at each step and why we decided to use them. In further sections we will break each tool out into more detail and explain how you can use the tool yourself.
What is it? - Process mapping is a tool to visually describe the flow of work and events that produce an end result. A process map can also be referred to as a process chart, process model, workflow diagram, flowchart or process flow diagram.
Why use it? - A process map is a clear way to visualise your working process, show what's involved, who is involved and areas for improvement. It can be used for new or existing processes.
What is it - Retrospectives are a way to facilitate conversations with people around what is working well, what improvements can be made and to focus on continuous improvement. A plan or template is essential in how to gather information, discuss and agree actions.
Why use it? - A great way to gather information from a number of people at once. You can facilitate a retrospective in person or online.
What is it? - An agreed set of principles on what a vision statement should be in advance of creating the statement itself.
Why use it? - Challenges you to focus on what you are trying to achieve from a vision statement.
What is it? - Used to group information gathered from the retrospective (data step) into themes, problems, impacts and ideas (opportunities).
Why use it? - This tool enables you to break down the problems identified into chunks (themes) to make them manageable and identify the main problems areas. Completing the template allows you to understand the impacts of each problem, agree on ideas to try (opportunities) and set priority on where to start.
What is it? - Based on lean canvas by Jeff Anderson the change canvas is focused on implementing change over a period of time. A simple to use template which guides you through the process to implementing change.
Why use it? - Easy to us in groups or as an individual to think through how you implement change. Ensures thinking around communications, target state, success criteria, actions, benefits and more.
What is it? - The learning card from Strategyzer is a simple card with four key steps. Create your hypothesis, identify observations, list learning and insights, make decisions and actions.
Why use it? - To learn from the changes you make. It's important to understand what was observed and what was learnt in order to see if change has the desired impact. The more we learn the better we become.
With the tools agreed, update the approach poster to show the tools at each step. This will engage our users and bring them on the journey.
Again, making the approach and tools visual gets people’s attention. Then ensure you market your approach by printing and placing around the office or posting to online boards.
Process mapping is a technique to visually map workflows and processes showing how a process works in clear and straightforward way allowing anyone to easily understand how to complete the process without a lengthy explanation. Mapping out a process gives a better understanding of how the whole process works and identify problems or potential improvement opportunities.
How we create a process map
List the activities involved
The first stage was to identify all the tasks involved in the process to complete it end to end. As a group (we involved as many people across the end to end process as possible) we listed all the steps and who was responsible for them on sticky notes placing them onto a board. At this point we did not worry about the order, the key was to gain as much detail about each step and possible allowing us to understand where in the process it comes.
List the activities involved
Next we identified the start and end point of the process and began mapping out the tasks in order until we had the full end to end process. It's important when doing this to have representatives from across the process to help and review as a group to ensure its correct and all steps have been identified.
Create a flowchart
Using the data we have created we now worked this into a flowcharts with process mapping symbols to show clearly how the process flows, what is involved and who is responsible. This view allowed us to see the full end to end for ways of working and gave us the benchmark for how this currently worked.
Confirm with all stakeholders
Its was essential we had the correct information and we wanted to confirm it with stakeholder. Over a number of weeks we held show and tells, attended clan meetings and took the process to as many stakeholders as possible to ensure they understood it and it was correct.
Identify opportunities to improve
With the process now compete we used it as a tool to identify ways to improve the process. Using feedback from the team and stakeholders we could identify bottlenecks, duplication in effort and problems areas in the current process. We highlight the opportunities for improvements on the process to work through at a later point.
Using this process allowed us to understand how our ways of working process worked and to dig deeper into the areas for improvements. It was key we spent the time to understand the current ways of working first before jumping into ideas and solutions.
Data - Retrospective
Gathering data is important, how do you know what the problems are without asking people? Retrospectives are a great way to gather data quickly and from small to large groups with a focus on continuous improvement.
Our approach was to keep the retrospective format simple, easy to understand and use multiple times. We decide to use the format of Problems, Ideas and Questions. We gathered data from everyone in the division, running multiple sessions ensuring everyone had a voice, raised their problems and suggested ideas and ideas for improvement.
The approach was for every problem identified, could anyone provide an idea to help solve it. This ensured the retro didn't just focus on the negative issues but also continuous improvement.
We used the ask questions as a parking lot on the day (ensured they were all answered in follow up sessions) which provided useful information identifying where things were not clear or missing in the way we worked.
Keeping the format simple allowed us to easily merge the data together, remove duplicates and identify the key themes from all the retrospective sessions and essentially giving us the core data we needed.
Below is an example of one of the retrospective we used in this format.
Vision - Principles of a Vision Statement
Your vision statement should be big, bold, and inspiring. The vision is the dream, the type of statement that answers the questions “where are we going” and “what can we achieve?”
Most people think vision statements are for products but they can be used anywhere, particularly in our approach to creating a better way of working. We used the 10 principles to creating a vision statement to ensure our vision was focused on the right things.
10 principles of product vision.
1. Start with the why.
Why are we doing this? What’s the point? Why would someone want to work on this with you?
2. Fall in love with the problem, not with the solution.
Fall in love with the problem and what you are trying to solve. Don’t get carried away with your solution and move away from solving your problem.
3. Don’t be afraid to think big.
Think big, don’t be afraid to do this. Landing a man on the moon was big, it attracted people to wanting to work on the solution to achieve it.
4. Don’t be afraid to disrupt yourselves.
Disrupt yourselves as you go along, if you don’t others will.
5. The product vision needs to inspire.
Make sure your vision is inspiring, if it doesn’t inspire you how will it inspire others to want to work with you towards it.
6. Determine and embrace relevant and meaningful trends.
Don't be stuck in your ways ensure you embrace new trends to keep up to date and relevant.
7. Skate to where the puck is heading not to where it was
Be ahead of the game, look forward and get ahead of the market with you vision. If you just follow the puck you are not thinking big enough.
8. Be stubborn on vision, but flexible on details.
Keep your vision tight, don’t change it for everyone all the time. You can flex on the detail towards the vision but you want a more fixed vision.
9. Realise that any product vision is a leap of faith.
Remember your vision is a leap of faith, you might not make it all the way there but you have to believe in it and then others will too.
10. Evangelise continuously and relentlessly
Evangelise continuously and relentlessly to anyone and everyone.
Following this process and through collaboration, workshops and feedback we created our vision below. The main challenge was getting the vision statement short enough and to the point but we knew we had succeeded through feedback across the division that everyone could by into the visionand began to get onboard.
Create an environment of collaboration and team work
to solve our own problems and continuously improve
our ways of working by experimenting, measuring and learning.
Identify - Opportunity Template
Using the data collected through the process mapping and retrospective we completed the opportunity template enabling us to break down the problems identified into chunks (themes) to make them manageable and identify the main problems areas.
Analysing the information and displaying it into a template view allowed us to understand the impacts of each problem and began to display the solutions to solve problems, proving teams can solve their own problems (working towards our vision). Using this template we agreed on ideas to try (opportunities), set the priority order and created a backlog.
The template breakdown
Grouping data together to identify key themes of information, giving focus on key problems areas to focus.
A summarised view of the data gathered to identify the key problems within each theme. Detailed at high level but with clear clarity of what the problem is.
What is the impact these problems are using now. This detail is essential to seeing what the real impact of the problems are and how big they are. This can help in setting priority.
An idea on how to solve the problem and reduce or eradicate the impact of the problem.
What are the first steps that can be take. Needs to be lower level to help in creating stories for the backlog and setting priority.
Below is a copy of the template we complete for reference.
Plan - Change Canvas
Implementing change is not always easy, one of the main reasons for this is jumping straight in without having a strategy and plan. We designed and used the change canvas (based on lean canvas by Jeff Anderson) to implement change over a period of time. Easy to us in groups or as an individual to think through how you implement change. Ensures thinking around communications, target state, success criteria, actions, benefits and more.
Using the data in the opportunity template we identified a number of quick wins in different skills sets, creating a change canvas for each with an agreed timebox (1 month to start then 3 moths cycles).
How to use the change canvas
The canvas is design to be reflective meaning if you were to draw a line down the middle one side would reflect the other. For example section 7 Actions reflect the things needed to be done to achieve section 6 success criteria.
What are the urgent needs to change? We focused on the people and processes, identifying keys areas such as creating stable teams, planning, releasing value, and priority.
2. Change Recipients
Who will be impacted by this change? Identifying the people early allows you to think about who you need to bring on the journey and how to communicate with them.
At the centre of the canvas is the vision. Ensuring everyone is focused on moving towards the vision is key to change and staying on course.
List the plan to communicate the changes to change receipts, and how will you receive feedback. The right level of commination needs to be thought through for different users. Some will want a high level overview of progress and some will want to be update at every stage. Identify what is best for your change recipients.
5. Target State
A clear list of the targets you will achieve throughout the strategy. Keep it clear, simply, to the point and most importantly achievable within the timebox you have set.
6. Success criteria
List the outcomes you will achieve to be successful in getting to your target state. Keep it clear, simply, to the point and most importantly achievable within the timebox you have set.
List the key actions needed to achieve your success criteria. Ensure they are actionable and can be achieved by the team you are completing the change canvas with.
What commitment do you need and who from. This can be from within the team you are creating the canvas or outside. If outside of the team ensure you get this commitment before you begin.
List the benefits gained from this change and how they will be measured.
Below is an example of one of the changes canvas created with the delivery managers team.
Learn - Learning Card
The final step in our strategy was to ensure we continued improvement through learning from the changes we made. It's important to understand what was observed and what was learnt in order to see if change had the desired impact. The more we learn the better we become.
We used the learning card from Strategyzer which covers four key steps:
Create a hypothesis of the change you implement. Stating what you believe the change will do by implementing it.
2. Identify observations.
List what you observed when implementing the change, what changed for the better or for the worse.
3. Learning and insights.
What did you learn from the good or the bad. Remember even if the changed fails its still a good thing if you learnt something from it.
4. Decisions and actions.
What did you decide to do based on how the change was implemented and what you have observed and learnt. This might lead to trying something new or changing your approach, keeping a continuous improvement focus.
We focused on keeping hypothesis small for each card allowing us to break down the change as much as possible and implement change little and often learning as we went.
Whilst we used this approach, we also agree there are many others ways to do this and it is not a one size fits all. Our aim is to share and learn together, if you have other approaches or improvements to this we would love to hear them.