Case Study 1
Leading Organizational Change
This case study will give an analysis of the implementation process for Agile, which is the name for a new method for software development. This method was created by Blue Cloud Development under the leadership of their CEO Shel Skinner. The analysis will identify what trigger events that led to Blue Cloud to start using the Agile process. The study will evaluate the change steps that Skinner used to make the transition to Agile and detect the changes in behavior that will be required of Blue Cloud employees during the transition to the Agile method. The analysis will also review the employee feedback on the Agile program implementation and from that feedback make suggestions to the CEO of how he should respond to the feedback.
Because of the constant changes in the marketplace from new competition due to the expanding global market to changes in regulations businesses have to continuously look for ways to stay relevant in their line of business and also stay profitable. To stay relevant a business has to look for ways to be more efficient through processes and cutting cost to be business while they create products and services that will meet the needs of their customers. When a business makes changes it is due to a trigger event. A trigger event can come internally or externally. According to Spector (2013) “trigger events, either external or internal to an organization, precipitate the need to alter behavioral patterns of employees.” The changes caused by a trigger event will create a variety of reactions from employees but management has to clear on the change and the new direction for the company. According to Kerl, Stolper, & Walter, (2012) “external trigger events can be a competitor introduces a new product.
Internal changes can happen because of new management that is hired or happen through a merger which may want to change the direction of a business or in this case a new process is being implemented to make the company better. Other internal factors that can cause trigger event to happen is a strategic change. Blue Cloud Development is a small software development company that is located in Mountain View California and their CEO is Shel Skinner. Mr. Skinner attended a conference where he learned about a method for software development that is called Agile. Attending the conference lead to the trigger event that made Skinner want Blue Cloud to change to the Agile method. This was a strategic move, that Skinner believes will make Blue Cloud more efficient and improve customer relations.
CEO Skinner made the decision based on the Agile technology would be a good change for the company because it would help to improve the development of software and the customers would be happy because they could deliver the customer’s order(s) early. An added benefit with Agile is it allows customers to make changes at later stages in the project process. Because of the improved process, along with earlier due dates; Blue Cloud will be able to retain their current customers but also capture new revenue though new customers. While at the conference when learning about Agile, Skinner came to the belief that Agile matched his beliefs on what technology is and how it would be something great for his company to add to improve processes. Another benefit that Agile will allow is for Blue Cloud employees to collaborate more on projects.
After studying the steps for the implementation change that CEO Skinner used for Agile, the plan was not well planned. I do believe that his vision and why the company needed to make change were meant to help Blue Cloud be better. Because of the magnitude of the change that will ultimately affect all employees. Blue Cloud should first test this plan out with a small group that way any issues can be worked out and this will allow employees to give feedback which could help the process. Skinner did not plan well because he did not think what changes this will cause with employee behavior and he did not plan for training on Agile. Another aspect of this change what issues would the new change cause employees who work with the current methods how will this change improve their day to day or what issue will it cause them.
By hiring consultants to implement a plan to make changes was not smart; because he did not include current employees even front line mangers. My suggestion to him would have been to use the shared diagnosis model for implementation of Agile. This process is redesign, help, systems and structures along with people change (Spector, 2013). I believe that Skinner and Blue Cloud employees may have different views on if change is needed in the development process. However before making a change of this level I would have put together a team of employees from different units that are a part of the software development process to give them a chance to give feedback on the new process the company is adding. This way I could listen to the challenges they deal with day to day. Employees, consultants and Skinner could then be part of creating the implementation plan for Agile for Blue Cloud.
Psychologist Kurt Lewin created an organizational change model that has three steps for change. These change steps are unfreeze, moving, and refreeze. To unfreeze is to create a feeling of dissatisfaction with status quo. Skinner missed this because he hire consultants which left the door open for employees not to understand why change is needs to happen. Moving happens when employee’s behavior shifts because of they are in an unfrozen stage. Refreezing is the last step which is when the direction and change is reinforced. This did not happen because the employees were never unfrozen. There has to be changes with the employees for the Agile implementation to be successful.
Whenever a company changes direction like Blue Cloud is doing employees with have to change their behavior. Part of change in behavior is being self-motivated another change will be now having to work with different coworkers of different backgrounds because of the teams that will be created. Another behavior change is being able to deal with the possibility of constant last minute changes because of the capabilities of Agile to allow last minute changes. Jeremiah 29:11 KJV says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The scripture lets us know that even with the changes we face in life God will protect us and lead and guide us through any situation.
Change is disliked often because of the unknown and need for changed behavior (Battistelli, Montani & Odoardi, 2013). Whenever change occurs in a work setting not everyone will like the changes. By praying and being led by God employees can adapt to the changes at Blue Cloud or on any job. God will help them to change their behavior and become a valued employee. When factoring in responses of employees those reviewing have to be mindful that you will get a variety of responses for different reasons. Some employees will be older who hate change, some employees may be disgruntled for other reasons which leads to negative feedback and some to keep their jobs will say everything is ok.
The lack of communicating the changes that will be made because of Agile factored into the variety of responses from employees. Comments ranged from “this is a definite step in the wrong direction” to “what’s new” would be a concern for me if I was in Skinners position. Skinner should have use the approach of task alignment. According to Spector (2013),“link desired new behaviors to requirements of performing key tasks of the organization.” Task alignment will not only motivate employees but identify why the need for change. This will also make employees feel valued because they will be part of the implementation process or have a voice speak for them during the process. They will also have a better understanding of the changes that Blue Cloud made during the process.
With a year into the implementation of the Agile method and receiving good and negative feedback. CEO Skinner can use this to evaluate the process and the Agile methodology overall. At the conclusion of this review process he will realize that that his plan failed. With the realization of the failed plan Skinner will have to create a new plan of implementation no matter if it is with Agile or another method. As identified earlier Skinner started the process off wrong by using consultants to create an implementation plan for Agile without including employees and getting their feedback. To help with the new plan Skinner needs to put together a message that is compelling about the change and then align this message with the strategy of the company which will help to implement the change.
Blue Cloud should use the shared diagnosis because the steps will include all employees and identify roles, training, placement of employees and structure. Skinner and the consultants will be able to create a plan that is created from not only Skinners vison but will allow for input from those on the front line and this will give them a chance to address concerns. Skinner will be able to address these concerns by enforcing the belief that change is needed. The shared diagnosis approach should help employees to understand why the change and why their behavior will need to change to help the program to be successful. This will lead employees to understand the changes they need to make regardless of if they agree or disagree with the new direction of the company.
Deuteronomy 31:6 KJV says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” This is a good scripture for to help the Blue Cloud employees and CEO Skinner that they can use for wisdom and to be lead when making changes. Also the scripture will help those who oppose change to open their hearts and minds to change. Change can be difficult because of routines and learned behaviors however God is letting us know that he is with us and do not fear the change. Skinner like many CEOs have to find way to make his company sustainable and profitable this is done making decisions that may not be liked by employees and in some cases even customers. Because of this his task is to find ways to make the company more efficient and grow. Skinner has to make sure that he prays and is led by God which will give him the wisdom to make changes and communicate the changes.
Battistelli, A., Montani, F., & Odoardi, C. (2013). The impact of feedback from job and task autonomy in the relationship between dispositional resistance to change and innovative work behaviour. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 22(1), 1-30. doi:10.1080/1359432X.2011.616653
Kerl, A., Stolper, O., & Walter, A. (2012). Tagging the triggers: An empirical analysis of information events prompting sell-side analyst reports. Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, 26(2), 217. doi:10.1007/s11408-012-0184-3
Spector, B. (2013). Implementing organizational change (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson.