Change projects have a lousy success record. Various change management studies dating back to 1995 show about a 30% success rate with success being defined as “project was finished on time, budget with the expected outcome”.

I suggest those people who were able to know exactly how a change would come out buy lottery tickets.

We, as humans, are obsessed with certainty and planning. While there is a myth that Agile means no planning, that’s a ridiculous statement. No planning is irresponsible. As humans, we want to reduce un-certainty through planning and often take that to the extreme that we can plan our way out of anything.

Not so with change.

There are many models to understand why change is extremely difficult.  An Agile Adoption or Agile Transformation is one of the biggest changes an organization can undertake.  There are many un-intended consequences with bringing Agile in due to the complexity of how organizations work.

For example, want to move to dedicated, stable and cross-functional teams?  That probably impacts an existing funding or governance process.  Now your ‘Agile’ implementation is fundamentally at odds with the business realities of your organization.

Change starts with understanding how people process change and I believe it’s more important to understand and focus on how people react to change instead of labelling people as “resistors”.  Think of the last time a change was imposed on you.   How did you respond to it?  How did that feel?  How did you get past your initial reaction?

At Agile and Beyond in Detroit, myself and Andrew Annett presented Managing Response to Change.  Check out our presentation and contact us if you’re interested in running a change workshop in your organization.