Change experiments will work through four states:
- Prepare. For each change, ensure that you have done preparatory work to negotiate, schedule, communicate, and to discuss the merits of chosen options with the change recipients. The people who will be living with the day-to-day outcome of the change must be actively involved with the design of the change and must pull the appropriate change(s) into their team. Pushing change into teams greatly reduces the chance that the change will stick. Change recipients should understand that change that impacts them is just an experiment. If it doesn’t work (as they may be skeptical) there will be an opportunity to roll back the change or for them to try something different. For each change write a simple hypothesis for the expected benefit of the change. This is useful to assess if the option adopted is truly an improvement and thus should be adopted, or if the change needs to abandoned.
- Introduce. The next step is for the affected team(s) to experiment with the change. Since we are using a lean approach to change, it is important for each team to keep the work in progress (WIP) to a minimum. Working on too much change at the same time means that lots of things are started but nothing is getting done. Focus on a small number of changes and keep the flow of small changes moving.
- Learn. At this point we monitor the effects of the change to see if it achieves the expected positive result. This review or “learn state” may be short, just a few days, or may last many months. This is a key aspect of this change management approach, understanding that we don’t prematurely declare success when a change has been introduced.
- Done (adopt/abandon). If we consider the experiment a success or failure and we don't need to monitor it as closely, we can move the option/experiment to the “done” status. At this point it is no longer an experiment and you may add further work items to your Kanban backlog to rollout the change to the rest of the enterprise, with the requisite communications, training if required, and updates to other organizational assets such as wikis or intranets.
Lean Change Management (LCM) and Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI)
LCM is very similar conceptually to Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI), as you can see in Figure 2. As we mentioned early, in DA we tend to recommend LCM at the cross-team/organizational level whereas GCI is better suited for team-level improvement. Having said that, both can be applied at individual, team, and organizational levels. A critical difference between the two strategies.