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Differences between Lean Change and traditional Change Methods

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

My journey in change management has taken me passed the most commonly used framework like PROSCI's ADKAR and Kotter's 8-step framework.

While working with those methods I always had the gut-feeling something was missing, there had to be something more to change.

Then, in 2014, I discovered Jason Little's Lean Change Management. Attending his workshop in Amsterdam opened a brand new perspective on change for me.

Now I am often asked why I base all my work on Lean Change, what makes it so different from other change methods. So here are 6 key differences of Lean Change compared to traditional change management methods:

Iterative and Agile

Lean Change Management, from it's inception in 2013, embraces an iterative and agile approach, emphasizing flexibility and adaptability throughout the change process. It encourages experimentation, learning, and continuous improvement, allowing for adjustments based on feedback and emerging insights. In contrast, traditional change management methods often follow linear and sequential plans, with limited room for flexibility and adaptation.

Human-Centric Focus

Lean Change Management puts a strong emphasis on engaging and empowering individuals affected by the change. It recognizes that people are at the heart of successful change and encourages active involvement, collaboration, and co-creation. Traditional change management methods may prioritize top-down communication and control, often overlooking the importance of engaging employees and stakeholders.

Change Agents as Facilitators

In Lean Change Management, change agents serve as facilitators rather than commanders. They create an environment that encourages participation, open dialogue, and shared ownership. They facilitate conversations, guide experiments, and support teams in finding their own solutions. Traditional change management methods may rely more heavily on directive leadership and hierarchical decision-making.

Continuous Learning and Feedback Loops

Lean Change Management promotes a culture of continuous learning and feedback loops. It encourages gathering feedback, experimenting with small changes, and adapting based on real-time information. This iterative process allows for rapid adjustments and reduces the risk of investing time and resources in initiatives that may not be effective. Traditional change management methods may have longer planning cycles and limited feedback loops.

Reducing Complexity

Lean Change Management acknowledges the complexity and uncertainty of organizational change, and works to reduce it. It recognizes that change is a non-linear, emergent process influenced by various interconnected factors. This perspective allows for more nuanced approaches to change, accommodating multiple perspectives and adapting strategies accordingly. Traditional change management methods may lean towards a more linear, simplistic view of change.

Contextualized Solutions

Lean Change Management recognizes that each organization and change initiative is unique. It encourages tailoring change strategies and approaches to the specific context, culture, and needs of the organization. This customization increases the relevance and effectiveness of change efforts. Traditional change management methods may rely on standardized, one-size-fits-all approaches that may not fully address the specific needs and challenges of the organization.

Try it yourself

I'm not trying to talk you into dumping whatever change framework you know and are good with. Lean Change can perfectly be an addition to your method.

What I am challenging you to do is to keep an open mind. Be adaptive. There's no one single framework that works always in every context. When we start with change there's a lot of unknowns. Using Lean Change helps to reduce such uncertainty by involving people from the start, breaking your challenge down in small experiments that, through the feedback those provide you with, help you take small steps forward in your change.

If you want to learn more, take a look at our planned course here.

Alternative: learn at your own speed from anywhere!

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