The Agile For Agilists Podcast

Revolutionizing Change: Breaking the Mold with Lean Change, featuring Author Jason Little and Trainer/Coach Ken Rickard

July 16, 2023
Episode album cover for the Agile For Agilist Podcast Season 2 Episode 11 The the title of the episode "Revolutionizing Change: Breaking the Mold with Lean Change, featuring Author Jason Little and Trainer/Coach Ken Rickard"
Agile For Agilists
Revolutionizing Change: Breaking the Mold with Lean Change, featuring Author Jason Little and Trainer/Coach Ken Rickard

In this exciting episode of The Agile For Agilists Podcast, hosts Drew and Brad are joined by two esteemed guests, author Jason Little and trainer/coach Ken Rickard, to explore the fascinating world of lean change and enterprise coaching. Together, they delve into the principles and practices of lean change management and its potential to revolutionize organizational transformation.

Jason Little, renowned author of "Lean Change Management," brings his deep insights into leveraging lean and agile approaches to drive meaningful change in complex environments. Ken Rickard, a seasoned trainer and coach, offers practical guidance on enterprise coaching and how lean change has helped him to apply an agile approach to agile adoption.

Throughout the episode, our guests provide valuable perspectives, share real-life examples, and offer actionable tips for enterprise coaches and change agents seeking to enhance their change management capabilities. Whether you're a seasoned practitioner or embarking on your change management journey, this episode is a treasure trove of insights and practical wisdom that will inspire and empower you to lead successful transformations within your organization.

Tune in to this episode to expand your knowledge and discover new possibilities for driving effective change in today's dynamic business landscape with this captivating conversation with Jason Little and Ken Rickard.


S2 E11 Lean Change w/ Jason Little and Ken Rickard

[00:00:00] Brad Nelson: Welcome to today’s episode of the Agile for Agiles podcast. I am your host, Brad Nelson. And with me as always is Drew Podwal.

[00:00:09] Drew Podwal: Hello. Hello, hello.

[00:00:10] Brad Nelson: Hello. And we have a very exciting episode today. We always say that, but I’m especially excited because today we have authored Jason Little joining us who has authored the book, lean Change Management, innovative Practices for Managing Organizational Change.

And he also has, uh, some trainings and I see Agile as well for enterprise coaching. And with him is trainer and coach from my company, Ken Rickard. Welcome guys. Hey, hey guys. So we’ll toss it over to to each of you to do a little bit of an intro and start with you, Jason. All right. Hopefully

[00:00:47] Jason Little: this goes better than the, uh, the session from last week where nobody got a reference.

We, uh, Ken and I spoke, uh, at a conference in person and it was the first time we actually met in person. So we did a little play on the old TV show. Perfect Strangers and like one person knew what it was. So, uh,

[00:01:04] Drew Podwal: did you do the chance of Joy?

[00:01:06] Jason Little: Yeah. Not good. I suggested it, but uh, Ken would’ve been the one that would’ve had to carry me because he was Belk and I was Larry.

But, uh, yeah.

[00:01:14] Brad Nelson: Well you’re in luck cuz Drew knows a lot of TV shows.

[00:01:17] Drew Podwal: I am, yeah. Yeah.

[00:01:21] Jason Little: So sorry for throwing us off the rails right away. So I’ll get, uh, get into the intro. So I’m j Jason Little, I started my career as a developer back in the nineties. So I am the world’s greatest cold fusion developer, and I got into change through the Agile space.

So the early two thousands I started working with, um, companies on helping them adopt, uh, Agile practices. So I worked as a product owner, scrum master, internal external coach. And probably mid two thousands is when I started to realize this was all about change and really didn’t have a whole lot to do with Agile.

So the last 15 some odd years I have been trying to figure out how do we take the good ideas from a bunch of different communities like Lean Startup and design thinking and Agile and change and organizational development and throw out the outdated stuff and try to build an approach that’s gonna fit our context.

[00:02:13] Ken Rickard: Yeah. Uh, and, and Jason picked me up on the side of the road a couple years back and that’s how we met. Of course, I’m just kidding. But my career has kind of taken a all over the place type of approach where I started out as a mainframe operator, uh, then got into analytics and did development work there.

Then architect type work in the data and analytics space, and then managing development teams. And eventually got into Scrum around 2008 and it’s been a good long time there. And then wound up getting into coaching, mainly team coaching. And then eventually, your past few years here have been doing more enterprise coaching and leadership coaching.

Uh, training. So it’s been a journey, that’s for sure.

[00:02:51] Brad Nelson: Definitely. Well, we’re excited to have you guys, and today we’re gonna talk about lean change. Surprise. You have the author on the show, you tend to talk about it. Um, so I’m gonna start with you Jason. What is Lean Change Management at a high level, and how is it different than other change management approaches, methodologies, uh, frameworks, whatever we call

[00:03:13] Jason Little: them.

Um, I like to call it a, an action biased approach to change that fits your context. And it was born out of necessity. So the, the late two thousands working with an organization where I think all Agile coaches have experienced this, sometimes it feels like you’re pushing water uphill with a stick and you just can’t figure out why.

And everybody’s looking at this shiny Agile thing and you quickly realize it’s far beyond that. It’s not really about these practices or even the values and principles, it’s more about the social agreements, about how we do change and how do we, how do we create, uh, a common purpose for people to rally around.

So it was designed to be something that got us to action sooner. So I’d find companies were spending, you know, 3, 4, 5, 6 months planning everything, creating all the steps, and then the day they unleash it, nobody cares. So it was how do we get to action sooner and how do we use the feedback from how people are responding to the change as input into the next iteration of it?

And the lean was meant in the sense of the dictionary definition. Mm. So it’s inspired by Lean startup, but when I put lean in front of change management, it was, it was more about how do you have the lightest possible approach to change that doesn’t put your process first. Because a lot of the times we just, we’re following the steps or we’re following the process.

We have these big heavyweight processes and ideas, and we spend all of our time focused on that, and we don’t focus on the actual change. So how do we lean it out and make it as thin as humanly possible?

[00:04:48] Drew Podwal: Yeah, it’s wild, you know, everywhere you go, everyone wants to know the new process, but they don’t want to pay attention to the other stuff.

They, it’s just, give us the process. Teach us, teach us how to do it and we’ll do it. So tell us more about that. If you’re going in with lean change management as an approach, and you wanna sidestep the conversation of process to go right to the protein of, I guess, culture, strategy, uh, structure. Well, one, is that correct?

And then two, like what is, what is the focus there?

[00:05:22] Jason Little: For me, it’s always, it always starts with the conversation and that the guardrails around that conversation is usually at a very high level. Why this change? Why now? So I actually just did this, uh, last week with a new client. They were talking about wanting to be more Agile, and our first conversation was, first of all, what does that mean six months from now, if you’re hanging out at the water cooler, what’s an awesome story that you’re gonna tell if this change goes the way that you want it to?

It’s to get away from the steps and process, because it’s sort of like you’re getting plunged into a constantly changing reality. There’s no current state, there’s no future state. These things are fluid. They’re always evolving. So we want to try to understand why this change, why now is always the anchor, because that gets people really thinking about.

That’s a good question. You know, why not start this three months from now? Why didn’t you start a year ago? And then they really start to uncover what they don’t like about how their organizations are working. And that really gets you away from the stock answers of, oh, we want to increase velocity and we want to increase this, that, and the other.

So you really get to the meat and the purpose under it.

[00:06:33] Drew Podwal: That was gonna be my next question, which is what are the, some of the typical responses you get that enable you to jump in with organizations? And then what are the responses that you get that are kinda like the anti-pattern responses, and how do you then approach those anti-pattern

[00:06:46] Jason Little: responses?

Yeah. The, the best one was, uh, I don’t remember which company it was. I don’t know, it must have been an insurance or financial services or something, I can’t remember. But, uh, fairly conservative, let’s just call it that. And uh, they wanted to start off with some training and some things like that, and they asked me, so once you come in and you do all this stuff, how can you ensure people do this change?

I’m like, you can’t. I mean, if they don’t want to do it, they’re not gonna do it. And, uh, they were a little bit surprised by that answer, and they kind of, on the call, they went, oh, I guess, all right, so we’ll think about what it is that we want to do. We’ll call you back later by click. And I never heard from ’em again.

And for me, that just shows you’re not ready. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Like we beat companies over the head for being stupid, for not changing, but a lot of the times they, they don’t really know what they want until they start taking action. Yeah. And

[00:07:36] Drew Podwal: I think that speaks to the lament of a lot of coaches out there who, or Scrum masters even, who don’t have the optionality to turn away or maybe don’t have the experience to be able to like, put the canary out there to see whether it lives or dies, to know whether to walk away from, uh, an engagement or not.

And then the other side of the coin is if it’s our job to help customers take those steps forward, then uh, you know how. I don’t know what the PC word to say this is right now, but how, how not broken do they have to be in order for you to want to take interest to, to helping them to take that first step?

[00:08:17] Jason Little: Hmm. As long as there’s a compelling reason and people, you know, you can see a spark in their eyes that there’s something that they want to do differently. They might not be completely sure what it is, but they are passionate about either what their team does or what their company does. Like they love working there and they wanna make it better.

And that’s a very nefarious, kind of big gray area to start with. But if that’s missing, it’s probably change for the sake of change. Uh, Jerry Weinberg, who pretty much all my work is inspired from calls it dropping change through the hole in the floor, where the people up at the top decide on a change and they drop it into the organization and there’s no purpose behind it.

It’s just go do an Agile thing and then the people at the worker level, if you want to call it that, are just stuck. They really have no. Say and how that change happened or whether or not they should do it, or if they have better ideas and they take this attitude of this too shall pass because a year ago we did the same thing and nobody did anything.

So there’s gotta be a spark of something from someone that wants to take this thing and run with it.

[00:09:25] Brad Nelson: Yeah. So you’ve mentioned it’s a lean change management. We’ve talked about lean, we’ve talked about change, and I know this is a word that Ken loves. Isn’t the insinuation with change management that you’re managing the change?

But it sounds like you’re not really managing it. It’s more of if you want to change, we’ll support you and we will help you.

[00:09:44] Ken Rickard: Yeah, so this is a big thing. I think I’ve probably mentioned this more than a few times, Jason, but you know, when I first came across Lean Change Management, I was in need of a, a change approach that was more rooted in Agile or agility in general.

And I had found lean change management. Uh, I’d come across it kind of just briefly looked at it and didn’t pay a lot of attention to it because it had the word management and the title. And to me it was as an Agilists, it was o c m, like in the traditional sense of what we think about O C M, the fact that it had change management in the title, I just kind of passed over and, um, it took me a while longer and a little bit of time setting with the idea to come back to it and then finally, eventually take a class back in, uh, I guess it was 2020, and realize that change is what I’ve been doing.

And I didn’t ever tend to call it that. Um, as an Agilists, as a score master, as a coach, as an Agile coach, what I’m doing in my day-to-day is change. I’m helping people change. I’m either helping them use a new process or I’m helping them change their behaviors. And those things I’ll have at the root of them change.

And so it, it took me a while, but I got there. And then it was also something that I had kept bringing up to Jason over the years of, man, it sure would be nice if this was kind of just called Lean Change, you know, uh, dropped the management part and, and eventually you did, I think, uh, earlier this year or last year, right?

You changed the company name from Lean Change Management, um, over to Lean Change Incorporated, right? Yep.

[00:11:12] Jason Little: Yeah, exactly. So.

[00:11:14] Brad Nelson: You’ve mentioned change several times. Ken in particular, you start to draw the parallel between Agile and change. Mm-hmm. And we talk about Agile. It’s our ability to adapt. It’s our ability to change.

And so, and I work with Ken every day, so I’m feeding him some of these things. Uh, cause I think they’re great conversations. But, you know, when we think about Agile, really what we’re talking about is change our ability to change quickly, to respond to feedback or changes in the market. Uh, and so I just wanna make sure Right, that we call that out.

Yeah. Cause it’s almost, it’s kind of meta, right? Like you’re helping people to become better at change by using change.

[00:11:52] Ken Rickard: Yeah. And of course, I mean most of the things that I would say in any given day have been heavily influenced by Jason over the past few years. And then also more recently, people like, you know, Michael Spade and Michael Hammond going through some of the icy Agile stuff.

But I mean, I’m, I’m more or less just regurgitating with my own spin on it, the things that Jason has been planted in my brain over these past few years. But from a change perspective, you know, I think it depends on how you look at Agile because your lens of the world, you know, Drew spoke about it a few minutes ago about how it may be tough for SCORE Masters and Agile coaches to have the autonomy and the agency to be able to go and actually be more exploratory and discovery based in how they approach things.

And likelihood, the reason why they can’t do that is because things have been kind of dropped down on them from the top. And so in the case where, you know, leadership is kind of going in the back room and they’re making decisions about how things should be, and then they’re coming out and dropping that change through the floor, and it’s kind of trickling down through the hierarchy, it does turn people into followers and it does kind of crush creativity and innovation in some way.

And so that level of conformity is an approach to Agile. Now, a lot of us would likely say it’s not really truly Agile, but you gotta understand that the perspective of the people who are implementing Agile in that way believe it to be Agile. So there is a perspective there that has to be respected, and then it has to actually, you have to acknowledge the gap in understanding, and then you’ve gotta be able to coach towards that instead of trying to just implement the framework that is being asked to be implemented.

I mean, obviously you’re in a position to do that as well. You probably need to do that in order to keep your job. But at the same time, it’s about coaching towards this idea that conformity, even when it pertains to Agile, isn’t something that’s ultimately going to help us be adaptable. And so I think that’s a message that a lot of Agile Agilists who claim to be Agile Agilists, and also people who don’t really claim to be Agile Agilists, but want Agile, they tend to miss or misunderstand.

[00:13:44] Drew Podwal: You know, it’s like going on the most important sales pitch of your career with somebody who is a hundred percent adamant that they know the client’s needs and the solution that we’re pitching, but they just don’t, you know? Mm-hmm. Um, and, and you’re, you’re with them on this pitch and you’re trying to hold it all together to try to win this pitch and it’s just not going well.

And somehow you win the business. Like this idea of, well, these companies, most of them aren’t technically going outta business. I would say that a lot of them are taking the very slow boat to going outta business if they don’t start to sure to change. But, you know, they’re still delivering. So it’s like we win the pitch, but we didn’t really win the pitch.

[00:14:31] Ken Rickard: Sure. Anybody that’s in middle management to the upper parts of an organization, uh, the executives and so on, why would they want to do anything different than what they’re doing now, if the perspective and the lens they’re looking through says that they’re succeeding or winning? Okay, so this Agile thing, so what, right?

There’s, there’s no reason for them to change. And in that, what they’ll tend to do is say, okay, fine. You guys wanna be Agile or do this Agile thing. Okay, great. Just don’t mess up all the things that, from their perspective is going well and they perceive to be as succeeding and it is a slow burn. Uh, like you’re saying, Drew in a way, it’s like a, a death by a thousand paper cuts in a way.

Yeah, because they don’t really see how they’re not succeeding because it happens so slowly. I

[00:15:15] Drew Podwal: really appreciate that within your five principles or philosophies, that that purpose over urgency is at the apex. To me, that’s the biggest thing that kind of gets in the way of trying to come up with experiments and or co-creation and buy-in, is that there’s such a huge focus on delivery that it’s hard for teams to recognize how to break outta that space, carve out a little bit of time for getting an understanding of where we have waste and friction and, and bottlenecks, and so I do appreciate that purpose over urgency is the top.

I do have a question about response over resistance. One, can you walk us through some of these and then two, that one response over resistance is one that I probably could use a little bit of clarity

[00:16:06] Jason Little: on. Sure. So I called them the, the five universals and use the term universals on purpose because it’s things that people just get right.

Like everybody knows what it’s like to have a new neighbor move in next door or to get a new boss and you don’t go on Google and go, what’s the eight step process to get successful ROI with new neighbor? You go over, you know, with a box of donuts and some beer, eh, cuz we’re in Canada and you say, Hey, I’m Biff.

I live next door, let’s hang out sometime. You know, everybody knows how to do that. So the universals is the same thing. We know that if people have a shared sense of purpose, they’ll work towards something. But we seem to forget that when we go into organizations. So we leave ourselves at home and we send our professional representative and we wanna follow the process.

So the Universal is something that was born out of, um, what I call the world’s most boring world tour ever. So that was after the book came out 2013 ish. I basically traveled from then until Covid and then went around to multinationals, small, medium, large companies, pretty much in every sector. And I wanted to find out what was separating the companies that were good at change from the ones that were having a hard time with it.

And it was those five universals that popped out. The first one, again, being purpose. So companies that could figure out a strong purpose and translate that to the different groups that were affected, because urgency is really in the eye of the beholder. You know, it’s urgent for me as the owner of a company to want to change because my livelihood depends on this company surviving.

What’s the urgency for a tester on a team? I don’t want to get yelled at if my test cases suck. Like there’s a huge disconnect between that. So how do we shift away from false urgency, which caught or warns about, uh, but people kind of gloss over that. The other four universals were the same thing. When companies that deal with uncertainty by focusing on experimentation over just blindly executing the change tasks.

I think we’ve all seen the green status report at the end of a year long program where we spent the exact budget, we finished all the tasks, but nothing’s different. So how do we use experimentation to reduce uncertainty instead of, I’ve never liked the term, let’s just embrace uncertainty, which has been a big Agile thing forever.

For me, that’s just like, let’s just walk off the cliff and hope it’s okay. It’s a little more calculated than that. We want to focus on what can we do to get a handle on uncertainty, even though that complexity thinkers will call me an idiot for saying that. But the sooner you act, the more you learn. And the faster you can experiment, the faster you’re gonna learn what the actual change should be.

The meaningful dialogue was really about how I saw companies that were broadcasting at people. You know, sending out newsletters, sending out SharePoint sites, doing one sided town halls, that’s all scripted If we get away from that, and the companies that focused on generating dialogue, one multinational did a C E O roadshow and he just went out and talked to people for six months, gathered insights.

Tell me what’s going on. Like to dig information outta people. Uh, the co-creation one is, um, a friend of mine, Jill Forbes likes to say, the people who write the plan don’t fight the plan. If you build the plan with the people who are energized about the change, there’s nothing to sell. So you don’t have to go get buy-in from people because you actually help them develop what the right change is in the first place.

And then the last one that you asked about response over resistance was, Resistance is basically the change. People saying, I don’t know what happened, but it’s all y’all’s fault. We just blame resistance. I mean, the version one surveys for the last 18 years have resistance to change, has been number one on their list.

Uh, just people resist change, but you can’t overcome that. It’s not like you, the more force you apply to a change, the less resistance you’re gonna have. It’s probably the opposite. You’re gonna get more if you keep pushing too hard. But what you can do is you can look at the response, everybody reacts to change differently.

So how do we separate the signal from the noise and how do we look at how people are responding to the change? And we use that as input into changing the change in the first place. You know, if everybody’s up in arms, for example, and actively pushing back saying, I will not do this, that’s perfect data that says it’s either the wrong change or the wrong time, or something else is going on.

So go get curious instead of furious. If nobody cares, it’s a totally different problem. You’ve gotta go digging for insights about why is it nobody’s doing anything. So if we focus on those five positive things over the traditional change things, companies that were doing that, from my experience on that tour, were being more successful with their changes.

[00:20:39] Ken Rickard: Yeah. And I think that’s the most misunderstood part. Drew the thing you’re asking about on Jason’s response there is I’ve had people come to class, um, we get into the course material and we start talking about h why lean change is different. And there’s an inevitably a spot where they say, yeah, but how does this all work?

How can this work? You know, people resist change. And it’s like, we’ve got that idea so ingrained in ourselves as human beings working in a professional kind of corporate world, that that kind of the top down directive of change has like changed the way we think about things. And so, To think in another way, uh, uh, what I often refer to as bottom-up intelligence to change that is supported top-down.

And that idea is so foreign to people that they can’t possibly believe that lean change can produce little to no resistance, just based on how the approach works. Almost like if you get a traditional kind of O c M person in, in your class, they will almost outright just resist the idea that resistance can be essentially eliminated through actually going to people and asking them about what they want to change.


[00:21:43] Brad Nelson: when you go to a company, Jason, like, or a company comes to you, are they saying Teach me Agile and you’re using a lean change approach to make that happen? Or are they saying teach me lean change?

[00:21:56] Jason Little: It’s, uh, sometimes it’s either or, or both. So it really depends on the context. Um, one company, fortune 50 Company, um, I can’t say the name.

Uh, but they intentionally wanted to, they wanted to call it change agility, which is the title of the, the second book, cuz that’s the one they found first. So they wanted to implement change agility within their change management division. Uh, they were using a different approach that people didn’t really like that much.

I’m trying to be nice on purpose, but, uh, they wanted to know mechanically how it worked. So that’s what we did. We went with the mechanics of how it works, and then we started to do pilots on various teams. And the, the response from the people on the teams is they were blown away, but the real timeness of the lean change approach.

So normally in this company, the change people would parachute in and they do like an hour long presentation, setting up the teams they’re working with to show them how they’re gonna do change. But our hour long session was a strategy canvas about the actual thing the teams were working on. And in an hour we were done.

We had the strategy done, we had personas done, we had their Kanban board done, and they went, so when are we gonna talk about what your change management approach is that we have to follow? And we’re like that, that doesn’t, what do you mean we’ve been doing it? Yeah. It doesn’t compute. We just did it. And they were like, seriously?

Yeah, everything was updated online in real time, and there was no need to go back for two weeks and redo the deck and do the comms, and then make sure we got the meeting minutes right. It was done in real time and they loved it, but that was their intention. So

[00:23:35] Brad Nelson: when you’re talking about or, or what I’m hearing is that instead of saying, here are the things that you need to change in order to become more Agile, you’re going to them and saying, what is it that you wanna change?

I believe are the words that Ken or Jason said. What if the things that they want to change don’t lead to more Agile working environment?

[00:23:57] Jason Little: As long as it’s their choice and it’s their idea. My job is to poke them and ask the hard enough questions so they can decide on what is the best way forward for them in their context.

And then we talk about consequence of action. That’s really a good way to sum up lean, change. It’s consequence of action. So you can go extreme co co-creation and involve everybody, or you can involve a small subset of people. But basically it’s, we’ve made calculated risks about what we think is the right thing to do next, and we’re gonna go try it and see what happens.

[00:24:29] Ken Rickard: Yeah. There’s two main questions I tend to get in, in class around this, and then one is, well, if we go and we let everybody decide how they want to change, well, what if we’re a, uh, an automaker, uh, like let’s say Ford or GM and somebody decides we should start making ice cream. Well, we, we can’t have that, right?

We can’t do that. Another one we get is, you know, what, if there’s a big change, like a migration to Office 365? And so we can’t just, like, that’s not gonna be something we’re gonna go and just ask everybody how they feel about this, or, you know, how this is gonna work for them because it’s a corporate level decision that’s made.

And so there’s, there’s not a lot of wiggle room there. And I think, you know, the way I would typically respond to those kind of things is that lean change isn’t the approach for everything. It really, in my opinion, it, it depends on the level of complexity and volatility that’s involved. Because if it’s a predictable change that, you know, you’ve done a million times and it’s gonna work the exact same way the next time, most likely using predictable ways of managing that change, it’s gonna make a lot of sense.

So you’re more traditional kind of prosci plus change plans, plus all the things that you would need make a lot of sense. But when there’s higher volatility, when there’s uncertainty, when there’s complexity that you can’t control, uh, when there’s an ambiguity, you’re not really sure exactly how you’re gonna go forward.

But you know, there’s multiple ways to get something done. That level of characteristics in the issue tends to suit not only Agile better, but change, agility and things like lane change is, is where I would be looking instead of your traditional change management approaches.

[00:25:56] Drew Podwal: You know, the ice cream example is one I’ve heard as well, and I mean, not with ice cream, but.

It’s always amazing to me when I hear that because it’s like, who do you think your employees are that they’re gonna suddenly decide to like make video games or ice cream or cherry pie or whatever, like, and whose responsibility is that, right? If that does happen, it’s the leadership’s responsibility to set the vision and the parameters for what we’re trying to do.

At the 60,000 foot view. And as long as that’s well communicated, not in these big gigantic town halls like you were talking about Jason, but with road shows and you know, more of a question and answer and interactive kind of manner, then nobody’s gonna wind up like, you know, churning butter, um, and making butter butter sculptures as a, a way to try to be profitable in an auto company,

[00:26:49] Brad Nelson: you know?

Yeah. You kind of touched on my next question there, Drew. So Jason or Ken, do you have a vision or a purpose or some sort of guardrails that you, when you go to a group of people, you’re like, Hey, how should we get better at this? Or how should we fulfill this vision? Cause I have to imagine if you just say, what do you guys wanna change?

That’s how you get kind of those outliers and those crazy ice cream type things.

[00:27:18] Jason Little: Yeah, it’s always I either use, uh, movie posters or Lego or something creative that gets them talking about some future at a certain point in time or future perspectives or videos. One company we had 55, uh, managers doing a session and had them go up to the front and act out a water cooler conversation that they were gonna have three months from now.

And I just said three months, you know, maybe it’s six months, maybe it’s a month. I don’t care. Pick a time horizon, but have a conversation for two minutes about something awesome that happened as a result of what we did to get there. Uh, and then a month or two weeks into your change, sit down as a team of managers and watch all those videos.

And then go, are we getting close to that? Why or why not? What needs to, what do we need to do to get closer to that? And leave it as simple as that. Cuz then you get away from all of this. The, the language and lean change is designed to be simple for everybody to be able to understand. It’s not supposed to be a bunch of buzzwords and, and stuff that you see that makes change management not accessible for people.

And when you have those conversations, if they made a movie about this change, what would it be? People can rally around that and then that gets them aligned towards the future. And then those outlier cases, I find those are just in training sessions. You get people who they were sent to a training session from their employer or they don’t really like the ideas at all, or they’re just not the type of change agent that has the temperament for taking this type of approach.

Nothing wrong with that, go do something else. This might just not be the right, right approach.

[00:28:56] Drew Podwal: I appreciate what I see Agile has been doing to our industry. Like as I hear you talking, Jason, the idea of you recognize you can’t make somebody change. If you go and do training and you do workshops and you go away and, and you’re honest, that may or may not be sticky.

I can’t force it to be sticky. And I feel like I see Agile has really like spearheaded that kind of movement in their training that really teaches you at the scrum master level, at the coach level, at the enterprise coach level, at the team coach level to really understand that all you can do is to try to figure out ways of influencing change and championing people to then get to that level of energy where they want to be the champion for that change and, and hit that terminal velocity at some point where everybody that gets sucked into it and goes along for the ride.

You know, versus, I don’t want to downplay or the Scrum alliance, but there’s not a lot of that in the training from a standpoint of influence and like digging into powerful questions and things like that. So I’m really appreciating the way that you’re talking about this in that regard.

[00:30:13] Brad Nelson: And you have certified courses in IC Agile, correct.


[00:30:18] Jason Little: Uh, just two. Yes. Enterprise Transformation and Coaching Agile Transitions. And they’re basically, uh, lean change courses, but aligning to IC Agile’s learning objectives.

[00:30:29] Ken Rickard: Yeah, it’s a two main, uh, enterprise coaching courses in the enterprise coaching track with IC Agile. Yeah,

[00:30:35] Brad Nelson: and my understanding, uh, from my conversations with Ken is those are a flavor of those courses.

So if you wanted a lean change flavor of that course, you would have to seek out your course, Jason, as opposed to their other versions of that, that’s also certified,

[00:30:50] Jason Little: correct. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the challenge with the learning objective model is there’s probably 50 providers of coaching Agile transitions content, and you’re gonna go to one class and you’re gonna get a linear step-by-step approach, and then you’re gonna come to one of ours and you’re gonna get the total opposite.

So it’s, it’s quite different depending on which provider you go with.

[00:31:12] Drew Podwal: Yeah, that’s true. Across the board in, in every single training curriculum is it’s all which instructor you get and what their perspective is on the material. And, and I think, again, that that hurts our industry as a whole. When you get an instructor that isn’t really like breathing the fire from the belly of the beast in the way that it was intended to be taught.

[00:31:36] Jason Little: And the region where they’re from matters too. Cause we’ve had, we have 56 trainers globally and when I go to some lean coffee sessions from some of the facilitators in South America, depending on what country the approach for change is typically different. So this is when you started to get into things like power distance index.

So hofstadter’s work where he talks about, you know, if you go to the Scandinavian countries, there’s a very low power distance index. So, uh, co-creative change is much easier there because that’s the way their societies function. If you go to other areas of the world where the status differential is greater, lean change sometimes becomes more mechanical to start with because thou shalt follow the hierarchy.

And the power structures. So it’s, it’s always gonna be different. People say, how do you ensure a consistent experience from trainer to trainer? I’m like, it’s impossible. Why? Why would somebody from Finland think they can go to Chile and train them the way Finn people learn? Or how Finnish people approach change?

It’s totally different. You’ve gotta adapt it to your context, into your, into your market a little bit.

[00:32:43] Ken Rickard: So Jason, you’re saying you’re not into conformity, that’s what you’re saying?

[00:32:47] Jason Little: Yeah. Nope.

[00:32:49] Drew Podwal: There was a period of time where, where my belief was that the best Agile trainers come from, uh, the Nordic countries, and I was choosing my instructors.

Something culturally about that area of the world seems to align really well with holacracy and the Agile mindset, and I’ve just found that whenever I’ve taken classes with those kinds of instructors, I really feel warm and fuzzy leaving there with inspiring information to take away.

[00:33:17] Jason Little: Yeah, that’s why I’ve been there, I don’t know, 40, 50 times over the years doing courses and hanging out with companies and stuff.

Cuz it’s a whole different, I hate the mindset word too, but it’s just a whole different attitude. You could go to the most advanced people in Finland, for example, and teach a beginner introduction to Agile course and they will squeeze a hundred new things out of it. Like it’s just, they just have this such curious mindset and everything is open for conversation.

You know, if they don’t get something in a course, I don’t understand that. Can we talk about this again? Or you said this, that doesn’t make sense to me. Can we have a conversation? And in North America, in the US in particular, they’ll just give you a bad review. They’ll nod and go, yep, everything was good.

And then they’ll say, that trainer sucks because they didn’t teach me whatever. So it’s a whole different attitude. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:34:09] Brad Nelson: It’s interesting. Um, so are your courses only through iic Agile or do you have your own Lean Change

[00:34:15] Jason Little: courses? They were always my own first. ICI Agile was based on facilitator demand.

So the trainers, I could take it or leave it to be brutally honest. But, uh, the trainers, especially in the Latin American markets, because ICI Agile certification is important for them, but nobody in Europe cares. So people in different pockets of the world will either care or not care whether or not it’s got IIC Agile attached to it.

So it was, well the course material’s already there, it already fits the learning objectives. Let’s get it authorized. And then all the trainers kind of do a mix of both, either or.

[00:34:49] Brad Nelson: So where would I go to see your courses?

[00:34:51] Jason Little: Uh, lean has everything up there. You can filter by ICI Agile or the, the regular courses.

Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, and

[00:34:59] Brad Nelson: I feel like we’re throwing a little bit of shade at IC Agile here. They are, I think one of the better accredited, uh, I dunno what you’d call ’em, certification organizations. And I have taken, I, I think I took one of your standalone foundation trainings through Ken, and then I took both of the IC Agile courses and they’re your typical two day or four half day certification course that people kind of scoff at.

Right. You’re not a professional from two days training. However, Ken, you just went through a very in-depth larger certification that IC Agile offers,

[00:35:33] Ken Rickard: right? Yeah. Yeah, I think some time ago I was kind of begging Jason. I was like, Hey, can you make a I C E EC course? So this is the experience-based set of courses instead of the practitioner courses, which is what the E N T and the C A T are.

So the I C E E C course is that, uh, evidence-based program, and it’s not just a go to class for a couple days or a week and and be done with it, get a cert certificate at the end. It, it’s not that at all. It’s like an eight or nine month program where you, you should in theory already know the things that you need to know.

It’s a capstone program in a way. And so, um, while they do teach you some things along the way, the whole goal of it is to create a cohort in order to socialize kind of what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, what’s working, what’s not, and to do that in a cohort for eight to nine months so that you can, uh, just get greater experience in from those that are also kind of on the same journey at the same time.

And. And then you have to essentially write a dissertation about the whole thing at the end. Like, here’s my evidence, here’s all the evidence that will meet all of these, uh, experience objectives. And you gotta submit that in. And it’s reviewed by the people who are running the cohort. And then it’s reviewed by I c Agile.

So all said and done, I think it’s been just over a year, uh, a year and about two months or so. And literally this morning I had my final call with I c Agile in order to wrap things up. And so officially I now have the designation of, uh, I C E ec. So expert level, enterprise coach, whatever that means. Um, but at the end of the day, yeah, that’s the program is.

Um, and what I’ve been able to do with it, I think, um, if I can put just a little bit more icing on this, is that what I was telling IC Agile today is that what I think really benefited from me was to have learned lean change first and then to go in the program with Michael Spade and Michael Hammond.

Which were the two facilitators that I, I had. But to be able to see their version of what enterprise coaching looks like, knowing that I have a solid foundation of lean chain behind me, I think has made me a much better enterprise coach. Um, because I have a much wider, broader toolbox now. Um, and so I can pull from that toolbox appropriately, no matter if it’s integral theory and integral transformation, or if it’s sense making techniques that comes from Hammond or you know, any of these other things that are there.

Those things can always be facilitated through the, the lens of lane change, and I think that’s what really makes it strong. Yeah,

[00:37:54] Jason Little: it fits really well together, especially when you start talking about, uh, spiral dynamics and you start talking about things like how do you meet the client where they’re at.

So talking about some companies that wanna adopt lean change, or they want to do a change, somehow the approach and the stance that you’re gonna take is largely gonna be determined on where they’re at in their, their four quadrants of the integral model. So if you’re going in, you know, at a green or teal level of mindset and practices or practices that were designed for those levels, but you’re in a red or orange organization, that’s where you’re gonna get the friction.

So that’s where you might go in with a more, uh, an entry point in the stance of, let’s adopt this lean change process and here’s how it works mechanically, and then try that out. And then as you progress through the next wave and you learn more, you go, oh, it’s not really about those practices. It’s about establishing alignment and creating better relationships and changing our structure and stuff like that.

So they, they fit really, really well. Can

[00:38:54] Brad Nelson: you go a little bit more into red, orange, green teal, like what those are and how they’re different?

[00:38:59] Ken Rickard: There’s one in there, Amber, that I think we’re skipping over. But Yeah. Uh, it’s from Frederick Lulu’s Reinventing Organization’s book. And I think a lot of the work that Frederick had done was based on, um, some work from decades ago from, um, Ken Wilber and Claire Graves.

So Claire Graves was the research behind, uh, spiral Dynamics, and Ken Wilber was the research behind Integral Theory back in the day. And so Amber, which tends to be the first rung of this idea that we talk about, because red is really like the mafia. Uh, so it’s a, it’s another level below Amber. And in theory, that doesn’t exist anymore in society, right?

So, I mean, we’re not going around like, um, clubbing people to death if they didn’t do do something, or at least I don’t believe we are. Amber tends to be the first one we talk about, and it, it’s really about conformity. So it’s this idea that, look, we have a hierarchy, we’ve achieved, uh, management and leadership positions that decide, and we’d make those decisions and we kind of drop it down through, uh, the organization.

The expectation from you worker is that you’re gonna follow what we do and what we tell you to do, and you’re not really gonna ask, uh, much questions. Uh, you’re just gonna kind of conform to the whole idea. The level above that tends to be what they call it, achievement Orange. And oddly enough, this is about 80% or so of the organizations, uh, in the world, and they’re, they’re heavily, um, results based.

So they’re all about profitability. They’re all about competition in the marketplace. Everything that they do in their organization tends to revolve around those kind of outcomes. And so there’s, there’s a lot of top down still, but they could have some leniency or some amount of autonomy around, uh, how are we gonna get there?

But most likely all the, what’s being pushed down. And then another level above that is pluralistic green. So this idea that there’s a duality of hierarchy, but also kind of inverting the hierarchy in a way in order to push people to the front, knowing that they need to help make decisions and we will get better results through people.

And then the last level, teal tends to be the one that a lot of people talk about. It tends to be the first time where the hierarchy is not in the forefront. And matter of fact, the hierarchy is essentially, in a lot of ways gone. It tends to be more of a networked approach to decision making and information sharing and taking action.

So it’s a lot about evolutionary capabilities. It’s built on purpose, and it’s built on adaptability. So that’s what Teal is. Yeah. If you haven’t

[00:41:15] Drew Podwal: read, um, reinventing Organizations by Frederick Lulu, it’s absolutely like life-changing. Yeah.

[00:41:22] Brad Nelson: Yeah. I know you’ve brought it up a few times, Drew, but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about it in, in that level.

Yeah. Uh, I could probably do a whole episode on that too. And at the Agile for address podcast, we’re the next level. We’re blue. We just run around like squirrels and with no direction, no leadership.

[00:41:38] Ken Rickard: I think Lulu’s stuff and the, the organizational altitudes and plus some other things. And even, uh, William Schneider’s, um, culture model was one of the sessions. I just did it. I jumped beyond up in Detroit last week, so it’s top of mind. Yeah, I,

[00:41:54] Drew Podwal: on the backside of reading, um, reinventing organizations, that was when I started digging into trying to learn about hos and the different models and concepts within them.

And to me it’s like a unicorn. Like I don’t know where they exist, cuz it’s not like a unicorn because I know unicorns don’t exist and I’m pretty sure that there are some functioning autocracies out there, but yeah. Yeah. I just haven’t, I haven’t come across. Many that really just get it and can work in that way and can trust removing the safety net of traditional

[00:42:26] Ken Rickard: structure.

Yeah, I mean, if people wanna look it up, uh, there are a number of companies, I think it’s in the 5% or or less so range that tend to be teal in the world, but there’s a corporate rebels, uh, if you’re familiar or you can just Google it, they, they actually have what they call their bucket list and these two guys out of the Netherlands and they are going around the world and interviewing leaders and organizations that work more in a teal type mentality.

And so it’s pretty cool. They’ve got a whole bucket list you can go and read about all the organizations and people that are in their bucket list on their website.

[00:42:58] Drew Podwal: So how does that bake into, uh, lean change, Jason?

[00:43:02] Jason Little: Um, The pattern I’ve noticed the most is companies that I guess would fit into green or teal just need the outside perspective.

They need a facilitator to come in to help them either with a strategy canvas, a Lego exercise or something. Because you know, we’re taught to think outside the box, but you can’t. That’s the nature of being in an organization. You’re in a box, you can’t think outside of it. So they tend to want somebody to come in and say, we wanna do something and we wanna shake some things up.

We need to change something. We’re not sure what. Can you come in and do this? And companies that would be more in the amber tend to come from a process view first. We’re not happy with Method X that we use now, and we want to adopt your approach. Um, and then very quickly the, uh, process ones. A year or two, they start to learn that it’s really less about that process and it’s more about all the things that they did inside that process for getting people connected and creating more alignment and finding the movers and the people who are motivated to want to do something different.

But it basically just a different stance depending on which of those levels the company thinks that they’re in. Got it.

[00:44:12] Brad Nelson: I became an Agile coach because I was frustrated about the things outside of my team that I felt like I didn’t have control over. Yeah. And Drew and I talk about this all the time when it comes to change, it seems like the biggest challenge or hurdle is leadership.

And so I’m curious with lean change and, and you’re going to the team level, the leadership typically is like, Hey, make my team change, make my team be more Agile. How does Lean change help you in that instance where it’s like the team is making these decisions, but they’re, they don’t have autonomy or they’re not empowered or leadership needs to get out of the way.

How do you address that? Or are there some tools or tips or anything?

[00:44:51] Jason Little: Typically a perspective map to help people become aware of what is outside the team and what in the rest of the organization is potentially gonna be disturbed by what the team does. Uh, one of the telecoms here, we called it the shenanigans process.

So we had done a, uh, a strategy canvas with the, the, I dunno, seven or eight VPs that wanted to do this Agile transformation. This is way back, 10 years ago. And, So we went on a road show. So we were doing as many people as we could cram in a room and online strategy canvas up on the wall, VP stakeholder in the room.

And the first time we did this with the first team, one of the team members just like pointed at it and go, I call shenanigans because, you know, one of the boxes on the canvas had some buzzwordy business, whatever on it. Uh, so that became our official process of co-creation was, you know, the leaders come up with vision, strategy, whatever.

And then we go on a road show and then we take the input from the teams that have given us feedback and we revise the strategy. And by revising the strategy, I just mean alignment, get us aligned, that we’re gonna move forward in the right direction. So you didn’t get the people saying, I wanna bake donuts, you know, some of those other stupid things.

Um, but. The cool thing, it was so great when that person just pointed and said shenanigans, cuz that gave us a hook. That gave us a hook that people thought was funny and it got them interested. So we started getting all the teams interested and they started creating all their team level canvases. And with the leaders it was.

What evidence do you need to see from your teams so you’ll know that they’re kind of going towards the future that you want to create. And that worked really well. We went from zero to 200 teams and about a year and a half,

[00:46:36] Drew Podwal: you know, and a big part of that also is that, especially if you’re on a road show with the C-Suite or executives or whatnot, they’re not used to being having somebody point at something they created and just say the word shenanigans, you know?

And, and as a coach, like helping them to reframe that shenanigans so that they hear it as, thank you for the opportunity to learn a new perspective that is going to help us to avoid making a mistake or a gap in the strategy, or something like that. You guys make a whole lot different amount of money, but you guys are partnering now and you’ve gotta be open to the idea that the people who are traditionally down at the other end of the food chain, Are helpful, right?

They, they don’t come into work with the idea of hiding so that they could just collect a paycheck. I’ve never met a developer who, or product owner, product manager, or scrum master that just wanted like, we’re all in this business because we think technology is pretty fricking cool. But helping the C-Suite to realize that partnership, I think is a big, important part of it.

Yeah. How do you go about coaching that? Like do you prep the c e o for what it’s gonna be like to hear somebody points at their sticky note and say shenanigans? Or do you wait until it happens real time?

[00:47:55] Jason Little: It’s, uh, one of the multinationals. We did talk to the leaders because the way that we did this process was, it was part of an annual summit.

So, uh, they were working on what they called a generational transformation. They knew that a transformation’s not a 12 month program or an 18 month program, and we wanted to use Slido behind them while they were on stage so people could ask questions in real time. We didn’t want pre-staged questions in a person with a microphone.

We wanted the questions coming in real time that people could vote on. So we did have a conversation with the leaders and it wasn’t, is it okay if we do this? They recognized us as being partners and wanting to do the right thing. So we just said, we’re gonna do this. So the questions are gonna come in, people are gonna vote on them, we’re gonna put polls up.

This is how we’re gonna run the session, so it’s gonna be pretty dynamic. And they were like, yeah, go for it. I’ve never, ever worked with a leader, VP or hire who didn’t not want the real story, like, be brief, be bold, be gone. They don’t want the fluffy softball question that the comms person wrote up. They want the hard questions.

That’s why they’re in a leadership position. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me, but I know Ken wanted to jump in with some thoughts about this too.

[00:49:08] Ken Rickard: Yeah, I think Brad’s question makes me think about the contrast between Agile coaching at the team level and Agile coaching at the enterprise level. In a lot of ways I see people that are, they highly misunderstand these two concepts because enterprise coaching is not just scaling Agile frameworks.

Uh, enterprise coaching is much more about organizational design. And organizational change than it is about Agile frameworks. And so in the context of like, well, how do you, how do you help leaders establish an environment where things like agility can succeed at the team level? And that is in a lot of ways the domain of an enterprise coach.

It is what an enterprise coach is essentially accountable, or accountable may not be the best word there, but it, it is kind of the premise behind what enterprise coaching is. And so for me, it’s a lot of trying to help leaders understand how their actions impact the greater system, uh, holistically. And also trying to help them understand how those actions and how they show up and how people experience them actually then leads to people taking their own actions off of the actions of the leader.

Because what they could be doing is through conformity or through results-based, uh, behavior. They could be causing people to lack creativity or lack innovation, which ultimately doesn’t get to the outcomes that the leader wants anyway. So rather than setting people up to fail in some way, why don’t we find better ways to actually create the kind of environment that people can succeed in?

And we don’t even really have to talk about any of those things from an enterprise coaching perspective that pertain or even use the word Agile, scrum Combine, or any of those things. All of those frameworks and all of the ideas behind Agile don’t even necessarily need to come into play in order to coach a leader in order to have a greater sense of leadership about themselves, and also to be able to set up the environment for things like Agile to succeed.

I love that you

[00:51:03] Drew Podwal: brought that distinction up. I still stand firmly that, that a scrum master is a coach. Sure. And the context of your coaching though definitely shifts depending on the audience. Uh, my focus has been on the business agility side for a little while now, and it’s so important that you have coaches.

I also call coaches, therapists, right? Coaches or therapists for whatever part of the organization they’re interfacing in. And why wouldn’t you wanna have that for your company? Why wouldn’t you want to have somebody who your people can go to to talk about what’s going on and, you know, bounce ideas off of, and, and help to figure out how to un.

Stick some of the things that are stuck in the mud and learn a bit more about themselves on the way investing in your people. Um, and it’s a shame that in the past, like I guess nine months now since the Twitter debacle happened, that that a lot of the Scrum masters and coaches are being reduced and, and budgets cut in that area.

Cause it’s just so important to have that person there. I almost use the R word, um, but that person there, that coach. Yeah.

[00:52:15] Ken Rickard: I like to say, uh, that anybody can take a coaching stance, whereas you’re, you say that a scrum master is a coach. The wording I would, I probably would just in my own personal opinion, I would just slightly change the wording a little bit to say that a scrum master can take a coaching stance.

Yes. Just like, uh, an Agile coach that’s working at a team level can take a coaching stance. And it’s not that a scrum master or an Agile coach is working at the team level, might not be doing organizational coaching, leadership coaching and so on. They very much could be doing those things as well. The delineation for me is that an enterprise coach is dedicated to organizational effectiveness and efficiencies, and then therefore, that means that they’re often coaching the leadership hierarchy if a hierarchy exists, and most likely it does.

Um, so it’s about training, coaching, mentoring, and facilitating among other things. But that tends to be the core, but you’re just doing it at the leadership and organization level.

[00:53:11] Drew Podwal: Yeah, I agree with that. Yeah. You know, with the Scrum master though, I think that people forget how the scrum guide defines a scrum master of being service to the team, service to the product service, to the organizational adoption of Scrum and Agile capabilities.

And I hear it all the time, right? Like people on message forums that I belong to, they’re like, what are the metrics for a scrum master? Or what are the levels for a scrum master? How do you determine the levels? And you know, everyone’s throwing out all these crazy metrics and whatnot, and it’s like, there’s only three metrics that matter.

From my perspective, it’s are they confident and comfortable and capable with being in service to the team, to the products, and to the organization, right? Like a brand new Scrum Master’s gonna have a hard time getting their feet in place with their team and. Probably really not ready yet to, to tackle cooperatively working and coaching with the product owner or product manager.

And definitely not ready yet to start working shoulder to shoulder with the other Scrum masters and coaches to figure out strategies for how to move change forward within the organization. And those are the three things that matter to me when evaluating. Scrum Masters is nothing else. So,

[00:54:25] Jason Little: Yeah, that’s a great example of what we chatted about with, uh, the Integral model and Spiral Dynamics is you’ve got it, let’s just call it a role that was designed in a process model for small teams in the context of green or teal.

And you’re trying to shoehorn that into an amber organization that might see a scrum master as a project manager with a fancy name. Yeah. So there’s no, the expectation is you’re not there to manage the team. Maybe you’re the facilitator, maybe you’re the project manager, whatever it is, but there’s no expectation that you interact with the greater organization, especially when you, when you get into scale and then you start to get those questions and you start to see job postings for Scrum Master one, scrum master two, scrum Master three, and Scrum Master three becomes basically a program manager.

Yeah. If you will. So it’s, and I don’t think any of this is really good or bad. I think that’s what I really like about the integral model is it helps, it helps you as scrum master coach, change agent, whatever, look at that topography map and try to understand the stance and the approach I’m taking is incompatible where that leader is, or this team or whatever, and there’s something I should change about my approach that might help us flow with the current a little bit and get things unstuck.

And that’s a maturity thing more than anything else, I think. Yeah. I don’t think you can teach that. You’ve gotta, uh, I think bang your head against the wall and get fired a few times by stepping over the, uh, what is it, the invisible electrical fence. You cross that enough times, you’re gonna learn that it’s really your stance and your approach that you’re learning how to navigate these organizational complexities over time.


[00:56:03] Brad Nelson: onto that. We talk about Scrum Masters giving service to the organization. Where I see a lot of them struggle is that they go to leadership and they’re teaching things like story points and velocity, which aren’t even in the Scrum framework. They’re generally accepted scrum practices in the first place.

But those are things that I see that happen a lot is they view it as, oh, it’s my job to teach senior leadership about Scrum. And that is, I think, the direction Ken was going to where it’s like an enterprise, uh, level coach isn’t teaching a delivery framework to Yeah.

[00:56:35] Ken Rickard: Leadership, right? Yeah. And that’s a big misconception.

I, that is the point I was trying to make was that many team coaches live in process because that’s the container that they’re in because they’re working at the delivery level. But as you get more into enterprise coaching, it becomes much, much less about a process or a delivery framework, because you’re right, middle managers and up don’t care about Scrum.

They don’t care about how you’re delivering. They just wanna see that you’re delivering and you’re providing value. So to take your same mindset as a team level coach and then try to go up in the hierarchy and to try to do enterprise organizational level coaching with that same mentality that it’s about process, you’re gonna fall flat on your face almost every single time.

[00:57:21] Drew Podwal: Well, but there is an aspect to it where you’re trying to educate them on the difference between a product and a project, right? And new ways of funding portfolios and, and whatnot. But I think you’re right, overall, it becomes a lot more about helping them to step into this new role that is looking to receive impediments so that they can then resolve those impediments and, and serve their teams well, not their teams, but serve their programs or serve their portfolios, and ultimately their teams.

[00:57:56] Ken Rickard: Yeah, and I would say Drew to that, I agree with you, and I would say that’s the reason why enterprise coaching is about change, especially at the leadership level, because what you’re trying to help them do is understand the reason why they would wanna focus on products over projects. So it becomes less about the process or the tactical, like, Hey, how do we implement this?

Because they don’t necessarily care about that. What they care about is like, okay, if we focus on product, it’s gonna get us this benefit as an organization. So speak to those things. Not trying to teach them about Agile and product because they, they don’t often don’t care about

[00:58:29] Jason Little: that. And they’ll know about the interconnectedness of those parts too.

And the consequence mm-hmm. Of making those changes. Yeah. So you know, some cases where team level Scrum masters stop doing status reports because that’s not Agile as an example, and I’ve seen this, but there’s Freedom Information Act requirements in public sector and government organizations. So when you stop producing that stuff, that’s valuable to somebody, three hops away and eventually some leader’s gonna get a report with some missing stuff on it and they’re like, what’s going on?

Well, that’s an Agile team. They don’t do this. Well, audit needs that. When you have that dedicated enterprise coach who understands the interconnectedness of all these groups and kind of the butterfly effect, If we take this action on a team, it’s gonna ripple out somewhere. If we just stop doing things that the greater organization expects, we can expect a response to that.

So enterprise coaches will know that something like that can happen.

[00:59:21] Drew Podwal: See, that’s why I’m a fan of Rally in version one over Jira is to me, a CEO can log into rally in version one and get the, the snapshot view of what they need to see bubbled up from the teams. It’s much easier to set that up in rally in version one than it is in in Jira, but I think that tooling.

When it comes to generating status reports, if you’re using your tool properly, the status report is just there for anybody who needs to see it or anybody who needs to get it. So I do think that to a degree that tooling is important. And I also like a lot of what I’ve been working on is connecting OKRs to initiatives and initiatives to epics and epics, features and features, stories and so on and so forth.

Tooling for me is when I was a a team coach and a program coach. It was the thing that I knew that if a company was using Jira, I can go in and I could make some tweaks early on to the admin settings of Jira to be able to unlock a significant amount of value really quickly, to build that trust really quickly with my teams, which then helped me to be a better coach.

[01:00:30] Brad Nelson: Very DevOps of you, JIRA. Yeah.

[01:00:34] Ken Rickard: And one quick thing I wanna point out real fast is that from an enterprise coaching perspective, the example you just shared, Drew, an enterprise coach, would care more about the transparency and that information is available and would care much less if almost not at all about the idea of how they’re gonna do it, because that would be up to the teams and the coaches that would be present working directly with the teams in order to figure out how they’re gonna get there.

[01:00:58] Drew Podwal: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s just one of my challenges as a coach is when I see something that with just a little bit of a tweak, like, it’d be so easy for us to do this thing and just make a little bit of a tweak and a change and everybody’s life would be easier. And to back away from that, realizing like, well, that’s not what they’re vocalizing that they want to do.

I always like to say that things like that don’t happen to me. They happen for me. It’s a lesson that I still need to, to learn so that this way I’m not forcing people to do things that they’re not ready to do yet and be able to serve my customers better.

[01:01:33] Ken Rickard: Yeah. Yeah. We have a class about that Drew. Oh yeah.

[01:01:38] Drew Podwal: Isn’t called Don’t Touch the Stove.

[01:01:40] Ken Rickard: No. It’s called Lean Change Agent Foundations. You could learn about those things there.

[01:01:45] Drew Podwal: Oh, you know, I would love to take some of these courses for sure. I’m like thirsty for this kind of stuff. It would be wonderful. So

[01:01:52] Brad Nelson: yeah, so I actually took the foundations. That was the first one.

I took Surprise, took the foundation before anything else, and I was a manager, uh, for up to 16 people over the last couple years. And it was actually the one training that I strongly insisted every one of my teammates went to. And I paid for them all to go to. And I encourage other people to go to, partially because I work at a consultancy, and I think it’s one of the most valuable concepts that you can learn is lean change when you’re a consultant and you’re going into these foreign environments over and over again.

But especially as an Agilists too, I personally find it to be one of the most valuable concepts and tools you can pick up. So not just doing lip service, right? Like as a manager, I paid for people to go. And I think that just speaks volumes to how, uh, revolutionary and how valuable this stuff

[01:02:46] Ken Rickard: is.

[01:02:47] Drew Podwal: So what are the outcomes that would be enabled for a person who takes

[01:02:51] Jason Little: your course?

Do you want me to list the learning objectives?

[01:02:56] Drew Podwal: Well, I mean, I don’t want you to list them, but like, you know, can you, can you summarize what will they be more proficient in? What will they be able to, you know, in what ways will they be able to serve their teams better? Think about it from a perspective of if a Scrum master’s taking this course, or if an Agile coach is taking this course who, you know, has only been a team coach or has only been a product level coach, or, you know, maybe somebody who thinks they’ve been at the enterprise but really hasn’t been at the enterprise.

[01:03:27] Jason Little: They’ll, they’ll get how to build a, an approach to change that will fit the context that they’re working in. So I like to say it’s the difference between, you know, being a line cook and a chef. If you come in with a line cook stance, what’s the recipe to follow? It’s not about that. It’s about here’s the ingredients, you’re the chef.

You have to know how to put these ingredients together depending on the context that you’re making the meal for. That includes the people, their allergies, the room that you’re in. So it’s all about using these ideas and these tools to build a contextual approach that’s biased towards action.

[01:04:02] Ken Rickard: Yeah, and to do that in a minimum viable way, because that’s one of the big things that lean change is that it’s not a heavy change process.

I think one of the things that really stood out to me when I took the course back in 2020 was there’s literally three steps, like if you boiled lean, change down to its most basic bits and pieces, other than the five universals of change in the lean change cycle, there’s only three steps in the minimum viable process.

And it’s essentially like have a conversation, document the things that you’re discovering about it, then discuss what options you have in order to make a change, and then figure out what experiments you’re gonna run and figure out what insights you learned off those experiments. And then essentially do those three bits over again.

Like the pattern is so simple that it almost make you think, oh, well this will never work here. But at the end of the day, it’s the simpleness of the pattern that enables you to handle the complexity that’s present in the environment.

[01:04:50] Jason Little: Yeah, because it forces you into a conversation. Like that’s the, the trick behind it is it’s minimal on purpose because it forces you to go out and interact with people.

You can’t just look through a strategy deck or a bunch of steps and then go away in your office and create this thing on your own and unleash it on people. It doesn’t give you that much instruction, so you have to go and talk to people and gather insights and do it.

[01:05:13] Brad Nelson: And as not a trainer and not the author of it, someone who just went to it.

I think it definitely challenged my way of thinking. Ken and I went through Prosci training years ago too, together. Mm-hmm. Uh, and so it was very different from that, a whole different feel, just even throughout the course. It was just very different. But I think the thing that I appreciated the most, and it reminded me a little bit of the more advanced trainings on, how they have liberating structures that they kind of delve into.

But the lean change training, you leave with a bunch of tools. So it’s not just like, oh, you have to have a conversation, figure it out, or have a nice life. Then there are tons and tons of tools for different situations and different contexts, uh, that I thought was really cool. But then on that note, did you create all those, Jason, like are all those your, your brain children?

[01:06:00] Jason Little: Yes. Uh, the, I change canvas, whatever flavor it is, is an A three report. So the original, like mid two thousands, when I started experimenting with these ideas, I was using a three reports, current state, future state, countermeasures, go to the gemba, get data. So a lot of lean stuff. And then that changed over the years of, um, working with teams and companies because the questions were always different depending on the level of fidelity you were at and where your entry point was.

So if your entry point is at the top of the organization, they don’t care about countermeasures and some of these lower level things, why this change? Why now? How are you prepared to support it? Who’s affected by it? That’s a strategy canvas. And then down at the team level, it’s do you get what they’re asking for?

What is supporting you through it? What’s holding you back? So the canvases were just basically became a placeholder for you trying to figure out what are the right powerful questions depending on the level that you’re working in, in the organization. It’s really cool

[01:06:58] Brad Nelson: and it’s really useful. Yeah. So if you want to take the training yourself, lean and you can sign up for Ken or, I don’t know, Jason, do you still teach the classes yourself too?

[01:07:08] Jason Little: Occasionally I do more private ones now. There’s a self-study option up there too, so if you don’t have time or you don’t want to take a full two day thing, you can can take the self-study, you get access for a year and access to the community to ask questions and stuff like that. But uh, yeah, I’ll do some occasionally.

[01:07:25] Brad Nelson: Yeah. All right. So you can learn on your own. You can find a trainer like Ken, or you can pay the big bucks for Jason personally, or you can buy the book or you can buy the book. So Lean Change Management and Change Agility. Those are your two books, right? Yes. Are you writing

[01:07:44] Jason Little: a third? Yeah, it’s, I’ve got content for 10, but, uh, one is more or less done.

It’ll probably be just like the change agility one where it just showed up one day. I was looking at a backup drive and I found change agility. I’m like, what the hell is this? And I opened it up. I’m like, oh, all right. Ran it through Grammarly and hit release, put it up on Amazon and like that was it. So, wow.

That nice. No fanfare. No. Uh, yeah.

[01:08:08] Drew Podwal: Mm. Yeah. I once found a book on my hard drive too, and, and published it.

[01:08:15] Ken Rickard: Haven’t we all, I think we all have. Right.

[01:08:17] Brad Nelson: And then you guys have some speaking, I mean, you just spoke in Detroit and I was there, spoke with you, not with you, but at the same place. And then you guys have more talks coming

[01:08:28] Ken Rickard: up.

Yeah, we’re gonna be doing this road show at least one more time. Agile 2023 in Orlando and July, mid-July third week of July 24th through the 28th. I think we’re gonna do a three hour workshop there. And so what we did in Detroit, but about twice as long

[01:08:43] Jason Little: and right after lunch on the Thursday, right?

[01:08:46] Ken Rickard: Yeah.

So we can do the whole uh, and Larry thing again and it can go over like the lead balloon it did the first time. Yeah.

[01:08:54] Brad Nelson: Are there anything else that, uh, listeners should be aware of that you have coming up or things you’re working on? Any sort of plugs you wanna throw out there?

[01:09:03] Jason Little: Um, I think lean is the best place to go because we’ve redone all the material over the last year.

So it’s all, uh, new material, shiny, polished up and um, we’re working on a periodic table of change elements. So it’s basically like you tell us your problem and we’ll show you the lean change stance, tools and ideas that you could probably try, and then you tell us your story, it goes into our experiment machine and now you can get help and support from other people in the community.

So we’re basically evolving lean to Tinder for change agents.

[01:09:41] Ken Rickard: I love it. Yeah.

[01:09:43] Brad Nelson: Well, well thank you guys so much for joining us today. This has been very fascinating episode for me. I feel like I learn something new every time I talk to you guys, even though I’ve done the training. You’re just very knowledgeable and I appreciate your time.

So thank you. Thanks. Thanks for having me. Thanks guys.

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