Agile Change Management: A book review by Bob Morris

Agile Change ManagementAgile Change Management: A Practical Framework for Successful Change Planning and Implementation
Melanie Franklin
Wiley (2014)

Change management is impossible without change agents who have an agile mindset

The last time I checked, Amazon offers 13,473 books on one or more aspects of business change management. Why another? I think there are three primary reasons. First, change has always been the only constant in the business world and each year, it seems to occur faster and with greater impact than before. There will always be a need for field-tested information, insights, and counsel from new sources to help manage it rather than be managed by it. Also, changes in one’s competitive environment usually require changes within one’s organization. Hence the importance of developing a rapid-response mindset, one that can accommodate both potential threats and possible opportunities in a timely manner. My third reason is illustrated by an incident that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein’s faculty colleagues at Princeton point out that he asked the same questions each year on his final examinations. “Quite true. Each year, the answers are different.” Business leaders need to be aware of “new answers” are as well as of the right questions that have been asked for centuries.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Franklin’s coverage.

o Five guiding principles of agile change management (Pages 11-17)
o What are the benefits of a roadmap? (26-30)
o Part 2: Applying the roadmap to what you change (50-54)
o Active Listening (67-73)
o What is business need? (79-84)
o Bringing the elements of business need together (85-93)
o Generating information about the change (114-122)
o Defining the impact of the change (132-144)
o Personal awareness (147-162)
o Personal leadership (163-173)
o Steps in building relation ships (184-194)
o Setting the scene for change initiatives to thrive (196-201)
o Building a sustaining environment (217-220)

Melanie Franklin has no head-snapping revelations to share, nor does she make any such claim. What she offers is what the subtitle of her book suggests: “A practical framework for successful change planning and implementation.” I think this book will be of most immediate value to those now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked on one. Also, for middle managers with supervisory responsibilities who need to fill knowledge gaps and sharpen basis skills.

However, I became convinced years ago that agile change management requires those involved to have an agile mindset. More specifically, change agents who embrace challenges, are not risk-averse, nor hostage to what Jim O’Toole characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom,” and who welcome opportunities for others as well as for themselves to achieve personal growth and professional development.

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