History of Lean Change Management

From conceptual thinking to a global community

“This book is an absolute must have for anybody and any group leading change within their organization.” – David Dame, October 2014

Jason, it isn’t about you!

November 10, 2009
Jason, it isn’t about you!

While working on a enterprise agile transformation with a global telecom organization, a fellow coach, Erik Meade told me I *should* go to AYE. AYE was an experimental conference hosted by Esther Derby,  Don Gray, Johanna Rothman, and Steve Smith, and Jerry Weinberg.  The experience of the first session based on Virginia Satir’s work was profound enough for me that the story of it became the first chapter of the Lean Change Management book (2012, 2014)  During a one-on-one session with Esther Derby, I was excited to go back to my client and inflict what I learned on them. Esther calmly said; “Jason, it isn’t about you” and my perspective toward change had permanently shifted.

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The Blog Post that Changed Everything

December 31, 2009
The Blog Post that Changed Everything

It was New Year’s Eve day and I was sitting in my cube wondering why nothing was really changing in the enterprise organization I had been working in for 8 months. They started an agile transformation around 2008 and I was the second agile consultant brought in to help. There were a variety of successes on a few teams, but few managers and leaders supported or seemed to care about becoming more agile and I couldn’t figure out why. While sitting there on New Year’s Eve day, in a mostly empty building, I realized Agile had little to do with Agile, and everything to do with change. I thought there must be a better way to do this and wrote 4 Steps to Agile Transformation on my personal blog. That started me down the path of integrating organizational change management and Agile.

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LSSC ’11 – Visualize Your Transformation

May 11, 2011
LSSC ’11 – Visualize Your Transformation

With a couple of agile transformations under my belt and at the time working as a Product Owner, I pitched a session to the annual Lean Software and Systems Consortium (LSSC 2011) which was created and run by David Anderson. The core idea was being transparent about transforming to agile, having minimal metrics in place, and realizing that all teams need a customized approach as well as a say in what’s changing. At the time I didn’t call this ‘co-creation’ but the seeds were planted! I also talked about visible portfolio management, co-ordinating work between teams, and having the minimal amount of process to align teams toward a common goal.  

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How to Get Started with Agile

August 11, 2011
How to Get Started with Agile

I remember being in line for lunch and Johanna Rothman was opposite to me telling someone a story of her recently finished session that she thought she completely bombed! Turns out her audience was far too conservative and not ready for her topic, which is odd because Managing Your Project Portfolio is one of the greatest agile portfolio management books in existence! Anyway, that freaked me out a little as my session was right after lunch, and it was the first global conference I spoke at with more than 2500 attendees. My topic was “How to Get Started with Agile When You Don’t Know Where to Start?” The premise was, not many, save Diana Larson, Michael Spayd and a few others, were talking about how agile transformation was simply a trigger for organizational change. Most talks at the time were about agile processes, technical practices and agile was largely still viewed as something those IT people do. My session was about how to de-mystify agile with your organization and how to create your own approach for change by understanding how your organization actually changes. This debuted the ideas from my 2009 blog post, 4 Steps to Agile Transformation, with an overly simplified model: Understand, Educate, Execute, Reflect. One of the attendees was a publisher from Pearson Education who offered me a book deal as no one, at the time, was talking about agile transformation in an organizational change context.

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Lean Startup Machine Toronto

January 30, 2012
Lean Startup Machine Toronto

While continuing to work as a product owner, I attended Lean Startup Machine Toronto which was a weekend where people would bring an idea and use customer development and lean startup to validate their idea with potential customers. My idea was to create a dating app between employers and potential employees. That is, hiring for fit is more important than hiring for skills. It was called Hire Shark and our team won the competition by proving how we progressed though validated learning. We actually made $50 by selling our paper prototype during the weekend! Shortly after that, I quit my job and started teaching lean startup at University of Waterloo for the MBET program and also started running public lean startup weekends through Silicon Halton. 

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Remember the Pearson Education Book Deal?

February 1, 2012
Remember the Pearson Education Book Deal?

After doing nothing for 6 months, Pearson Education was planning on launching their Live Lessons series and we turned the book deal into a video tutorial deal. Lyssa Adkins was on deck to launch the brand with her Coaching Agile Teams lessons, and mine was the 2nd out of the gate. Lyssa was kind enough to do a short lessons-learned video from her recording session for me! Titled, Agile Transformation: A Guide to Organizational Change, the topics included an agile foundations module, the 4 steps idea, using lean startup, and the idea of visualizing change and using change canvases, which at the time was simply called a ‘one-page change plan’, inspired by the A3 problem report made famous by Toyota. This was launched on InformID, and Safari Books Online and was published to Front Row Agile a few years after its release.

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The Commission

May 25, 2012
The Commission

The infamous organization in the book! I started working there as an agile coach with and internal team of coaches. 3 of us were hired at the same time and Jeff Anderson and his team from Deloitte at kicked off the transformation a few months earlier. They were using lean startup language for managing the transformation and once they left, our internal team moved to a completely pull-based, and co-creative approach.

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Leanchange.org Launches

August 12, 2012
Leanchange.org Launches

Wow, what an ugly website! Thanks Wayback Machine for keeping that archive!  Leanchange.org is officially launched with a collection of stories that made their way into the book. It evolved into a less, but still ugly website: Over the years, it’s evolved substantially to be less about selling the book, and more about helping change agents get unstuck.

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Lean Change: Evolving Change Management Launches on Leanpub

January 10, 2013
Lean Change: Evolving Change Management Launches on Leanpub

Work began on Lean Change: Evolving Change Management and the first copy was sold on March 25, 2013 via Leanpub. One of the early adopters, and friend, Sunnish Chabba graciously offered to design the cover! In true lean startup fashion, the book was released chapter by chapter, as I was operating from the assumption that what we did at The Commission was an interesting story that others would want to read.

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From Stone Age to Agile – Agile 2013

August 5, 2013
From Stone Age to Agile – Agile 2013

Ardita Karaj, one of the coaches at The Commission, and I presented our story at the annual Agile 2013 conference. Titled, From Stone Age to Agile, we walked through the story, and oddly enough, got in trouble at The Commission for calling the session “From Stone Age to Agile” because it had bad optics. Oops. This marked a series of other conferences talks around the world.

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Lean Change Agent Workshop is Born!

May 19, 2014
Lean Change Agent Workshop is Born!

The first two workshops are run in Munich, Germany, hosted by Torsten Scheller who bought the Godfather package. During the workshop, Torsten asked if I had considered licensing the material so other people could teach the class, and the Lean Change Agent Facilitator program was born. Demand grows quickly and sees workshops run in Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Australia. Since 2015, over 500 workshops have been run in over 30 countries.

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Lean Change Management: Innovative Practices for Managing Organizational Change Launches

August 15, 2014
Lean Change Management: Innovative Practices for Managing Organizational Change Launches

Jurgen Appelo had created Happy Melly and one experiment was Happy Melly Express, a publisher that would sit between self-publishing options, and big publishers, created by Vasco Duarte. They were looking for a book to use for their first experiment: Jurgen was my writing coach, and used a new technique he was working on called The Feedback Wrap to give me feedback on the book. After a few months, it was re-launched in the fall of 2014. Again, in true lean startup fashion, we used IndieGogo to fund the creation of the book which included a Godfather package that would give that supporter the ability to host the first workshop based on the book. There was no intention to actually create and run one, just an experiment to see if there was demand to do so!

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First Facilitators Sign-on!

July 16, 2015
First Facilitators Sign-on!

In 2015 Markus Gaertner becomes the first official Lean Change Facilitator, along with Holgar Dierrson, Reiner Ritter, and Torsten Scheller followed closely by Richard Atherton, Charlotte Mawle, Ro Gorell , and Paul Jenkinson. There are currently over 40 facilitators worldwide representing 21 different countries.

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100th Workshop!

May 11, 2017
100th Workshop!

The 100th workshop is run in Vienna, Austria by Mike Leber.

250th Workshop!

May 8, 2018

Charlotte Mawle and Ro Gorell run the 250th Lean Change Agent workshop!

Digital Credential Program Created

July 15, 2018

We launch our digital credential program with 12 badges.

Lean Change Management Academy Launched

July 18, 2018
Lean Change Management Academy Launched

After piloting a virtual cohort in 2017 using Dropbox and Zoom, the Lean Change Management Academy launches for self-paced learning as well as deep cohort learning. 

October 10, 2018

The Lean Change Management Association launches!

Coaching Agile Transitions Workshop Created

September 26, 2019

We officially launch the Coaching Agile Transitions with Lean Change Management course, aligning to IC Agile’s Enterprise Agile Coaching learning objectives.

500th Workshop!

May 26, 2020

Patrick Verdonk runs the 500th workshop, virtually due to COVID-19.

Change Wayfinder Launched

July 1, 2020
Change Wayfinder Launched

After traveling the world since 2014, I discovered 5 universals for change that have helped organizations move change forward. In 100% of the cases, the method or framework wasn’t the reason change worked. Also, there was no ‘the change worked or didn’t’ binary thinking from change agents who were seeing their changes move forward. The Change Wayfinder launches as a GPS and co-pilot to help change agents, whether it be agile coaches, change managers, HR people and more, figure out how to intervene in the organizational system in the right way at the right time without have to learn yet another best practice framework or method.

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