At its core, change management is the right mix of tools and tactics to move something to a future state effectively. As society continues to advance and innovate on shorter cycles, change management has started shifting its focus from one and done to continuous improvement. Business leaders are increasingly challenged to modernize their organizations not only to stay relevant, but to build a competitive advantage

As I reflect back on the ACMP Global Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, I summarized my key takeaways below that underscore the urgency for organizations and executives to evolve in how they prepare for future challenges. To help support business leaders and change practitioners in using Agile to drive change, Propeller has developed tools for making that transition easier. Our Agile Change Management Toolkit includes tactics to set up change management for success. The presentation I gave at the ACMP conference, “Be Agile: driving change in the fast lane,” helps you answer why to go Agile in the first place, and what you can get out of it depending on the goals you are trying to achieve.


Fittingly, the ACMP conference was hosted in a historic mega factory that has been retrofitted into a museum for vintage and modern cars. The topic of driving change and evolution in business seemed most appropriate in this venue, blending old with the new in a historic setting. It was a perfect backdrop for discussions on how people, technology and processes come together to keep up in the modern world. 

1. Yes, “Digital Transformation” is still a thing. Embrace it now or get left behind.

Everything in our society is going digital. Our communication and engagement paths are increasingly shifting towards remote, electronic platforms has changed to the point that we hardly make phone calls anymore. We’re experiencing rapid growth and change in how we interact as a society, and with that comes a need to shift in how we do business.

Vying for people’s attention is the biggest challenge for brands right now. Many of the presentations at ACMP Global were about using technology platforms and new tools to better reach audiences, like pop up ads that target customers. Now that these technologies exist, the next step is digital adoption, looking at how we use, adopt, and sustain these new tools. The questions that need to be answered are how do people actually use technology and how do we get them to adopt these changes? 

A majority of the projects Propeller engages involve technology. We’re either improving it or helping people use or optimize an existing platform. We're seeing that more companies want to build dashboards that allow them to document data to view it in a more meaningful way that will help them make better business decisions. This then also demands we modernize our approach to change management to ensure lean approaches, agile tactics, and digital adoption.

2. There’s no change management silver bullet. Each organization has its own set of variables.

Something that resonated with me at ACMP is that all of the topics were about embedding change management principles in day-to-day work, and linking core principles to other disciplines like neuroscience, technology and agile. You can’t jump on a project with a change management playbook in every situation and always expect the same outcome. When you're dealing with people, change, companies and an intended outcome, there are many complex variables at play.

Learning from other business professionals is always a treat, especially when there’s corollaries to draw. It reinforces the importance of becoming less reliant on templates and process and developing more rigor around quick turn, feedback loop, real time measurement plans. The key is understanding what's in your toolkit and how to use it, and applying it strategically, not just as a checklist. This is why at Propeller we don’t approach change management with any single point of view, but instead, we bring best practices blended with common language from common methodologies.

3. Agile Change Management can co-exist! It’s actually a powerful combination

As organizations transform and adapt to an ever-increasing complex and ambiguous landscape, they are turning to the Agile working model to stay competitive. More change practitioners are being asked to be "agile" and to deliver adoption in an "agile" fashion. But we often see frustration and difference of opinion between the Agile and change management disciplines. Let’s break down a couple of the myths.

Myth #1: You have to deliver every two weeks

With large change plans, how would we ever be able to deliver something tangible every two weeks? The point of Agile is to complete a milestone. Maybe your milestone is to accomplish 50% of your change plan or talk to 11 stakeholders. You establish your own two-week goal at the beginning of a sprint cycle. Using Agile is about being intentional about how we break down a complex thing and make progress along the way to make sure we're approaching it correctly.

Myth #2: There is one set way to think of Agile

It’s easy for someone to assume that once they go to an Agile change management presentation they immediately know how to work in these environments. But it’s important to make the distinction between the three different conversations that are specific to each environment.

  1. Going Agile - an Agile transformation which is much like a traditional project
  2. Change management in an Agile environment - iterate and in the sprint cycle every few weeks
  3. Having roles and responsibilities on an Agile team – may be different for you, the product owner and the team as a whole

At their core, change management and Agile share many similar principles. For example, Agile and Change Management concepts revolve around doing what's best for our client or customer. They both heavily rely on feedback loops, involve interactive development, and both work towards the end goal of implementing sustainable change.

Agile Change Management Tools for You & Your Team

If your team is currently Agile, or if you're considering embracing Agile, Propeller has developed the Agile Change Management Toolkit which provides a framework to help change practitioners manage their teams’ expectations of what adopting Agile will do for them. You will find an Agile business readiness assessment to see if you're really ready to operate and achieve all the benefits that Agile offers. The toolkit will help you identify the benefits you're looking to achieve to start thinking as a change manager operating in an agile way.

Another resource, my presentation “Be Agile: driving change in the fast lane,” specifically covers how to integrate change management into Agile cycles, but more importantly, delves into the Agile transformation process itself.

Today’s business leaders and change practitioners need to find ways to keep up in an ever-evolving business climate. By embracing digital transformation, applying change management strategies and implementing Agile as a powerful tool, you will be ahead of the game in meaningfully driving change to take your organization to the next level.