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Communing With The Storm – Part II

Agile, Adaptive and Ancillary Ways to Facilitate Change Management

Our previous entry on this subject felt incomplete, especially in the vein of practise and application. Last time, we looked at the future of change management to understand its definitions, and what it means to interact with a “storm” of change itself.


Today, we’ll focus more on how that plays out in your day-to-day habits and interactions. After all, the principal way to measure leaders of change during times of disruption like 2020 … is the practical effect they have on those under their leadership. It won’t take much time scouring business news headlines to find stories of leaders handling it poorly.


To be blunt, the people you lead are “part of the storm.” Facing this season as a “solopreneur” has its own set of challenges, but they’re in a different category from leading teams of dozens, hundreds or thousands. 


In most cases we examine, leaders remain undeveloped. They’re either stuck, or quickly return to the expiring “Waterfall” model of the 20th Century. They can’t respond appropriately to the storm, and the first casualties of their decisions are usually the people they lead.


There are strategies you can deploy to handle this very differently. But they’re unlikely to appear feasible or sustainable, if you’ve not undergone the deep personal “reboot” available through Unitive’s online education platform. It contains a deep dive into the competencies, skills and habits of an agile, adaptive, 21st Century change leader.


Why “Agile” Isn’t An Industry Standard … Yet

We have the gigantic technology industry to thank for proliferating the “Agile mindset.” It’s a style of leading and organizing teams that harnesses creativity and different perspectives – to get unstuck, iterate and refine how business works.


Some leaders view the Agile philosophy with suspicion, as some sort of attempt to reinvent the wheel of hierarchy and structure. They don’t have sufficient experience to correctly perceive it as a “hybrid” of foundational order … and creative freedom.


Human beings naturally seek equilibrium, certainty and formulas. We’re susceptible to the myth that business can be “made certain” if we simply discover and enshrine the right formula. While we can be certain that many of an organisation’s tasks can be made into systems and processes, we’re unwise to think the same about people who execute them.


Agile does not reject the viability of a strategy that worked in the past. It merely considers that strategy properly: as one of several that could be deployed. Agile invites the creative experience of multiple perspectives and asks, “Will we get the best results if we repeat what we’ve already done?”


You would think, given the stratospheric success of the technology industry, that business leaders elsewhere would take note. But as Dale Carnegie observed, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” Once powerful institutions like Blockbuster Video and the Kodak film company learned this the hard way.


Another way of viewing this comes from the sport of bodybuilding, which centres around developing the human body’s muscular density and proportion. A competitor with knowledge of how muscles are designed, overlapped and layered upon each other does not rely on the same training regimen indefinitely. They continuously adjust. 


They train one day with heavy weights, another day with light ones. They alter their angle by 45 degrees and execute the same movement, which activates ancillary muscle groups that would not engage otherwise. They “work every angle of the muscle,” so that observers can perceive the development in 360 degree, 3-D reality.


Needless to say, this is not how most people train in the gym – and therefore, part of why they don’t acquire results they want. Business leaders, similarly, should not expect Agile results when using Waterfall methods.


Unitive’s online education platform provides you with strategies and tools to work your Agile, adaptive “muscles” from every angle.


How To Get “Back” To The Future of Change Management

Embracing change holistically means a dual awareness. You remember that you’re leading change; you never forget you’re participating in it as well. You can’t lead from an Agile footing if you’re “above” the change.


A foundational concept of Agile philosophy is the solutions you’re looking for are right under your nose … if you’re willing to listen to them. You’ll either come across them because you’ve built the capacity to self-reflect … or, by being forced to give up on yourself as the lone source of solutions, and use the strengths of others gathered around you.


You also can’t control change, but you can lead it through facilitation. The journey could be compared to constant tension between being a monk, a scout, a publicist and a counselor, sometimes within moments of each other. 


Leading stakeholders through change looks different with yourself, versus people impacted by it, versus people who design it. But each of these categories requires the ability to create space for learning to emerge. This exceeds pure self-awareness as a leader. In that case, you could be pardoned for hiring a third party to conduct a workshop. In this journey, you become a conductor, training other conductors – who are also your stakeholders.


Let me offer another personal story to illustrate, before concluding. Professionally, I reached a point where I realized that I knew “all the right things to do.” I knew what buttons to push, what levers to pull, and when and how to use them. And it nearly worked, but for the way my personal life was in constant shambles.


Some business environments allow you to operate like that, and even give you high marks for it. But hugely personal matters, like marriage and my relationship with alcohol, weren’t so forgiving. I couldn’t “fake it” at home, and I definitely couldn’t master enough principles to know what to do in every situation.


Exhausted by my internal chaos, I prayed one day: “I want to feel as though I’m on an adventure. One where it isn’t up to me to design every step of the journey, and I can one day look back and realize there was no way I could have known what it was, or how to make it happen.”


The more I conformed to this aspiration – which, it so happens, dovetails with the core concepts of an Agile, adaptive leader – the more success I “acquired,” without the additional stress of producing it. While perhaps I sacrificed the ability to claim sole credit, an old saying comes to mind: “Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.”


To begin your adventure without the need to plan it all in advance, click here to join Unitive’s online education platform.