Change management game applied in DevOps implementation with several teams

“All the effort of building a web requires a great commitment to innovation and flexibility. The final result and the process of creating the final result are characterized by the ability to adapt to changing environments, environments that are constantly changing, and allow unexpected intrusions. Therefore, you can never think of a web as something permanent, fixed, or rigid. The genius of the spider lies in its ability to adapt, redefine, and remake its network of connections within the realities presented to it in a given space. (‘The Moral Imagination’, p. 167), John Paul Lederach”

Crossing the imaginary chasm: The Change Management game

Change management is an approach that regardless of the framework or place where it operates seeks to manage or include defining the elements related to people and their different interactions to achieve the desired business results. This complexity inherent in the design and expectations of achievements can lead to an abuse of bureaucracy or failure that, from the perspective of the Toyota production system in what they call waste, slow approval processes, excessive meetings to achieve an alignment of expectations and in an effort greater than necessary to challenge the installed capabilities of the organization.

Different approaches to the problem offer routes to its solution. However, Management 3.0 has within its set of games and tools a quite interesting “Change Management Game”, originally published in Jurgen Appelo’s, How to Change the World, is a fun and powerful way to share stories of successful change management processes. I use these cards very often when I facilitate change management processes, design sessions that involve culture change, or during a sprint for teams that need to effectively manage the organizational changes they are driving with the purpose to find ways that the team will be capable of raising by themselves the doubts or questions that they have about the change process they are promoting, through a previous reflection exercise. Besides that, we can use:

  • Align the expectations of a team for an implementation

The cards work very well in remote and on-site environments. Before you start, make sure you have a copy of the Change Management Game. You can download and print it yourself, or just buy the official game here. In a digital environment, I use them with Mural.co or Miro loading the images previously. There is also a very interesting app that you can download here, which contains the game to use it with your cell phone.

I have used it with groups of 3 people up to 24. I don’t perceive any limitation in the total number of people, however, we can divide them into subgroups not exceeding 8 or 9.

A few months ago a transformation team asked me to help them improve the change process they were driving,

The session began through improvement dialogues with liberating structures, by asking them questions like:

What is the great challenge posed by the current situation? Which expectation would you like to resolve or clarify in this meeting?

Once I have posed the question, I divide them into pairs or trios and we will do three rounds of 4 to 5 minutes, answering the questions. In each round, I will change the groups and pairs so that they can exchange opinions and ideas (using the breakout room function of Zoom if it is remote) if it is face-to-face I allow them to organize themselves. Once the time is up I open a session of ten to twelve minutes for discussion and analysis of previous results.

We exchange ideas, listening to individual participation, and achieving a common understanding of what has emerged from the session. Then I ask them to identify what level of adoption they think they have in relation to what they are promoting. I usually show Chris Harden’s adoption curve design (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/initiative-adoption-curve-chris-harden/) to facilitate the team’s understanding of the adoption phase

There is a lot of discussions here; it is an intense process of reflection. During the discussion, I introduce the concept of the game by presenting the cards. I don’t go too deep, but I do like to emphasize that Playing the Change Management Game will force you to think about:

  • Consider the system

I give each team a deck or if we are in remote I share the link where they can access the cards in digital. There I give them 20 minutes to get to know them and share understanding about these cards.

Then I ask them to select the ones they think are appropriate for the stage of adoption of the change they are in. Discussion processes are generated that are very rich in content and the differences are also clarified.

Then, through impromptu networking, the participants select the most appropriate cards that correspond to the stage that they identify by consensus and common understanding

Co-creation Workshop June 2020

The game greatly facilitates discussions by providing insights into each of the major elements that must be considered for any transformation process

Based on the answers, one can proceed or go deeper into the discoveries or enrich the activities and tasks associated with the transformation.

I asked them to select the most important questions for the future. This allows them to make strategies and update the action plan along with their expectations. They selected this one and started a prioritization process over their actual plan

My main learning through the use of this tool is that it promotes a continuous and iterative approach to the purpose of what you want to achieve. Regardless of the complexity of the challenge, the right questions can simplify (without falling into reductionism).

Because of the interesting questions provided by the game, it facilitates quick participation immediately for all those involved in the activity. Another approach will be to ask them to select those questions that they feel should have been answered in the past that would have allowed a less demanding process or at least results closer to what was expected. I would like to use this approach in the future to promote reflection and facilitate a retrospective, from there I ask you to select the most relevant question for the next iteration or sprint.

The dynamic encourages commitment to the challenges of change, as participants decide which questions are relevant to their particular situation and commitment and self-organization emerge.

The Change management game invites storytelling to create connections among those who participate. This facilitates a common understanding.

One of the main advantages of using change management cards is the flexibility it has to be used with practices such as liberating structures and other techniques. What would happen if sessions were designed using “Training from the Back of the room”? This is something I would like to experience in the future.

Panama City, Panama