The Seeds of Agile Change

agile change and transformationI had the opportunity to hear Ester Derby talk about change recently at BASD in NYC, at her keynote “Designing Environments for Agile Success.”

She reminded us that, alas, there are still no silver bullets for agile ‘transformations’…

Her talk also helped remind my inner middle child that the best first action is not to try to “change anything” – but instead to simply make things visible.

Before Change, Reveal the System to Itself

Why? Because change leads to the unknown and the unknown can be scary. And, can I have a show of hands, who else besides me has learned the hard way that creative workers really really don’t like coercion, or attempts at replication (“Do it this way, it worked for that team/company…”.)

As change agents, instead of focusing on fixing “all the things,” or “enforcing a practice” it’s better to first find out what problems the people we serve care about; to “go and see” and really learn what their struggles are.

Then by helping make those things visible, we can help expose patterns. And those patterns will help reveal systemic issues.

Oh, we’re not done yet: we need to help our teams and organizations recognize what preserves those patterns.

Only then might we have a chance of helping teams and organizations break free of the past.

Simple, but not easy… Ester did warn us.


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