A Non-Prescriptive Approach to Change Management with Structure and Discipline

Sounds like an oxymoron, right? How would you put in structure and discipline into a non-presecriptive approach?

Well, that’s why change management is a science of complexity handling. This is how we do.

How We Do

OD (Organization Development) as a Practice and Application of

Behavioral & Process Coaching x
Management Science

Practically all large organizations have some form of change, transformation, innovation initiative ongoing at any given point, often stagnating with limited impact. Some tranformation programmes are ran programmatically, others take a heavily structured approach starting with organization design, and a few take the “cultural” and “mindset change” approach.

There is no one approach to change, transformation, innovation success. Every situation is different and it’s all about complexity and ambiguity handling – in change, there’s no certainty. However, there is pattern recognition, and at Agile Organization Development our experience and track record show that a balanced and integrated approach that combines all process, structure and behavioral aspects of organizational interventions is key to breakthrough success.

While experience counts and heuristics go a long way, our approach and success that ensues need to be repeatable and replicable at scale, as our work is at the organizational level. We find discipline in our OD work by defining it as mainly a combined practice of behavioral and process coaching and real-world application of management science.

OD (Organization Development) as a Practice and Application of Behavioral & Process Coaching x Management Science

Build, Measure, Learn, repeat

Delivering in Iterations, Less in Stages

As we are ingrained in Waterfall thinking, typical business projects follow a stage gate or phased approach – first achieve this, then next do this, and so on.

We suggest a better approach of delivering in β€œiterations” – start local, start small, and grow the circle of influence with small wins here and there and eventually everwhere.

In practical terms of how we like to work with client organizations, we like designing our client programmes around the three core activities of workshops, pilot and coaching because it creates a feedback loop of learning.

  • We use workshops for two purposes. First is for knowledge and skills building, i.e. training. And second, very importantly, for alignment and ownership; i.e. starting from “why”. Agile 101 and Welcome to Design Thinking are popular contents for these workshops. A typical workshop may be one to two days.
  • Next, we strongly insist on not doing a “big bang” style of implementation in change and transformation. Rather, we should test the waters with pilots. Earmark one or two small teams to run a pilot program on a chosen approach, e.g. Agile Scrum. A typical pilot may be around three to six months.
agile-od workshop pilot coaching
  • An integral activity during and after the pilots is coaching. Coaching is our main means of creating the communication feedback loop of understanding what’s working, what’s not working and what’s further needed with the client teams and leaders.

Through the feedback loop of learning among the three activities, we may find out it could be a good time to follow-up with another workshop for alignment or ideation (e.g. strategy session facilitation with Liberating Structures). Other times we may identify certain pockets in the organization that may benefit from some special care with coaching. With this iteration of activities we holistically prepare the organization to scale the change, transformation, innovation endeavor.

Ultimately, we very much look forward to the day of “graduation” – our KSA (knowledge, skill and ability) transfer to the client organization is complete and we are blissfully no longer needed for support.

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