How Agile principles help in Change Management

Deepak Parmar
February 13, 2018

Change is a process not an event.

In the age of digital renaissance, change management is an everyday reality for organizations.

There are hordes of books, webinars, fables and even change management specialists to help teams navigate the waters of change. Who Moved My Cheese anyone?

And yet, change management gets more complex as the technology mix gets more diverse. As the approach and practices get a re-haul and companies all over the world are rethinking the way they do business.

In recent years change management experts have pointed out how soft issues are equally important as the technique and tools.

Culture, leadership and communication play an important role when leading change.

Agility and change management

If you look closely change management is embedded very deeply in many contemporary practices and methodologies.

Take the Agile/Scrum paradigm for instance.  In the DevOps world, agile and scrum are increasingly sought to speed up the delivery cycles and provide more value in an uncertain world.

The essence of Agile focuses on iterative and incremental development, adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery. Within a time-boxed iterative approach.

Essentially, it encourages a rapid and flexible response to change. Communication and collaboration are the cornerstones of the agile framework. But also, the key to managing change.

Agile and scrum combine the empirical approach with lean philosophy. This helps teams to focus on learning by removing complexity.

Take for instance these six practices of Scrum and Kanban

  • Visualization
  • Limit work in progress
  • Manage flow
  • Explicit processes
  • Use feedback loops
  • Evolve your process experimentally

But broadly speaking, you could apply these to any change management project to get results.

Implementing these principles can help organizations focus on workflows and processes.

This is because change management is as much about culture and processes as it is about technology and implementation.

Empowering your key teams with the ability to deal with uncertainty can turn out be your biggest advantage.

So, the agile way of clearly defined processes, prioritization and resolution of issues by interacting with stakeholders and key leaders is applicable to change management too.

In the context of change management you can use it thus: define sprints by breaking up key tasks into iterations or sprints, based on the transition timeline.

And voila you have incremental progress while monitoring dependencies and impediments.

You can hold stand-up meetings or hold sprint retrospectives to reflect and understand things that did or didn’t work well during the sprint.


Since Agile and Scrum practices work on the empirical approach, the practice resonates deeply with the empirical-rational theory of change management.  Many non-software and non-tech businesses have implemented the Agile approach successfully to their gain.

The principles can be used well for change management too.

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