I’m sitting here exhausted after a day at The Art and Science of Change followed by an evening of playing baseball with the kids!  Now my brain AND my body need an ice pack.

This conference stretched my comfort zone given it’s the first large event outside of the Agile and Lean communities I’ve presented at.  I’ll admit I was a bit nervous given the majority of the crowd was much more entrenched in the traditional change management world than me.  I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful comments I received about my session, even though I did throw a fairly large rock in the traditional change management pond!

The day started out with a bang for me with Daryl Conners keynote.   In a word, wow!  My confirmation bias indicator in my brain was going crazy during his keynote.  Daryl spoke about his fear that the change management world was travelling too far down the “science” path and neglecting the “art” of change.  I felt inspired when he talked about how to focus on change that matters.  Change that matters, in his view, is change that improves the lives of people.  I whole-heartedly agree with that!

What stuck out the most is both art and science are needed, change agents need to get on board and aspire to master both, or get off the path of becoming a change agent.   Bold words that I agree with.

I was also pleased to learn that he studied under Virginia Satir, which I spoke about during my presentation.  To have a thought-leader in the change management world echo many of my beliefs and stance towards change was refreshing and inspiring!  Truth be told, I was worried there would be so much of the typical change management speak there.   I’m glad I was partially wrong!

The day got even better when Dan Pontefract presented the model behind his new book Flat Army.  For starters, he is fantastic story-teller and extremely engaging to watch.  Second, his stories about how TELUS increased their employee engagement from 53% to 80% during a 4 year program was astounding.     I enjoyed how one of his five models was similar to Lean Change in the sense of how he recommends engaging the people being changed and explore before implementing the change.  Very similar to how Lean Change focuses on validating changes before implementing them.

There was a bit of nose dive, for me, during the next talk which was more focused on traditional change management planning, ROI and other unicorns I don’t people in….because I’ve never seen them work.  Perhaps that is a bit harsh.  To me, plan-driven approaches to transformational change simply do not work.  That’s not to say planning is important but given many studies show ~30% of change initiatives are successful, doing more of the same thing sure isn’t going to help.

With my brain now full, it was showtime!  I felt nervous starting and quickly got into my groove and many people gave me positive feedback about some of the crazy ideas I was talking about.     The session was recorded so there will be an audio replay posted over the coming weeks.  I think I did have too much info to go through however but if you’ve seen me speak, for an introvert I can blab with the best of ’em!

I closed the day attending a session on gamification which started slow but ended with some great insights and case studies.  The team I was working with at a previous engagement failed miserably at introducing gamification via character sheets.  The thought was we could provide a path for the adoption of agile and lean tools and skills but we didn’t consider asking the people affected first.  No one used them and we turfed that change pretty quickly.  I’d be interested to try it again knowing what I learned today.

All told, I was pleasantly surprised with how many “art” of change conversations I had.  I have had many arguments conversations with people who only focus on pushing change and process, obviously blind to the human element involved with guiding change.

I think the change management world has much to offer the Agile community and vice-versa.  Hmm, this sounds like an interesting experiment…stay tuned!