Agents of change and resistance: The different faces of Agile transformation.

5 min

re.set - Training

When an organization contacts us to help them work more efficiently, simplifying their methods, and we explain the principles of Business Agility, we always give them this warning: "simple isn’t always easy".

Agile Methodologies are a very good response to the context of business transformation in which we live. They improve the ability to adapt, promote greater speed and encourage horizontal structures where teams are more empowered. But implementing an agile transformation is not just about having new procedures and tools, it’s a profound change in the mindset, culture and work methods of an organization.

At the heart of this transformation are the employees, the key players and actors; but do all people want “to be empowered”? Isn't it often easier to remain unnoticed and unaccountable? Is everyone equally interested in proposing initiatives and seeking solutions? Is there anyone who might not be willing to lose his or her share of power?

Every Change Has its Resistance.

In this article we’ll look at the most common reactions that workers experience during the process of transformation to an Agile Methodology. From those who enthusiastically embrace the new methods, to those who show direct opposition, including those who face uncertainty and seek to adapt to a more flexible work environment.

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change”.

Jim Rohn's quote could be a good argument for those who show resistance to change, however we must remind organizations that not all people are ready for a transformation and there will always be those who decide to "jump ship".

It’s very important at this point that leaders know how to apply the principles of Radical Candor, which we have discussed in previous articles: sincerity, empathy and challenge.

We must understand that there will be a stage of uncertainty which almost everyone will go through; once this stage is overcome there will be those who are agents of change, those who go slower adapting to the new procedures and there will always be those who resist change - if they fail to adapt, they could end up leaving the organization.

A mosaic of responses: Deciphering the reactions of workers on the road to agility.

If we have to mention one of the pillars of Business Agility, it is undoubtedly the Squads, teams of people working together to achieve certain objectives.

We could establish a visual metaphor with regatta crews, all rowing in unison to reach the goal. However, in the beginning this is not always the case, there are those who row with determination, these would be the agents of change; those who let themselves be carried along by the inertia of their colleagues, who would form the group of passive resistance; and those who not only do not row, but put the brakes on the progress, who would form the opposition. Let’s see what their characteristics are and how the organization can act in each case.

1- Agents of Change:

Agents of Change are those individuals who actively support and promote transformation. They are usually open-minded people, willing to take on new challenges and drive change within the organization. These agents would occupy different roles in the aforementioned structure, such as leaders, managers or team members, and play a key role in the successful adoption of Agile Methodology.

It’s very important to identify these people and involve them in the procedures, as they can be extremely valuable in driving the transformation and motivating others.

Agents of change are proactive, innovative and have a clear vision of the benefits that change towards Business Agility can bring. They have effective communication skills and are able to inspire others to join the transformation process.

The organization must identify and support these agents of change, providing them with the training and resources needed to lead the transformation. It’s also important to recognize and reward their contribution, to encourage their commitment and motivation.

2- The Passive Resistance:

They are the skeptics, they find it hard to understand change and initially offer passive resistance due to fear or lack of understanding about Agile Methodology. However, once they understand the benefits involved, they begin to support the transformation and become advocates of change.

They may offer this resistance by not collaborating in proposing initiatives, not being interested in how to apply the changes, not learning the use of methodology tools, nomenclature and not actively participating in meetings.

It may even occur that this group of people give positive feedback and say they support the transformation, but continue to work as before the implementation of Business Agility.

This group, as they come to understand that the transformation works in their favor, end up being more participative and even become new agents of change, as they achieve greater independence, more decision-making skills, see much more transparency and their day-to-day work becomes more meaningful as they have measurable objectives.

Often the resistance comes from a lack of information, fear of the unknown or an erroneous perception of job threat. To address this resistance you must, once again, adopt the principles of Radical Candor, speak directly and clearly, encourage challenges and show empathy. The organization must provide clear and transparent communication about the reasons for the change and the benefits it will bring. Feedback and constant communication and evaluation of the procedures are key to overcoming this resistance. 

3- "The Opposition":

The opposition group is composed of those employees who actively resist change and may even sabotage the transformation process. These people cling to traditional vertical structures and may feel their share of power or status threatened. They may fear loss of control or be uncomfortable with the idea of working in more autonomous and empowered teams.

To deal with naysayers, the organization must focus on effective communication and change management. It’s important to address their concerns and fears, and provide them with the necessary training to understand the benefits of Agile methodology. It is also important to assume that there will be those who would prefer to leave the organization.

Some general tips:

  1. Form diverse teams where agents of change and different personalities are included, the diversity of perspectives and experiences will help foster an environment of collaboration and mutual learning.

  2. Promote open communication where everyone can express their doubts and fears. Transparency and active listening are key to building trust and overcoming communication barriers.

  3. Provide the necessary training to all employees to understand the fundamentals of Agile Methodology and how it will be applied in their daily work.

  4. Throughout the transformation process, recognize and celebrate individual and team achievements. This will help maintain the motivation and commitment of all employees, regardless of their initial position on the change.

  5. Encourage experimentation and continuous learning. Business Agility involves an iterative and continuous improvement approach. It encourages teams to experiment, learn from mistakes and constantly adapt.

Ultimately, in any transformation process we will find those who embrace change and those who resist or even oppose it. Direct, transparent communication and empathy will be the keys to success. It’s necessary to foster a culture of continuous learning and recognize individual and collective achievements to promote team empowerment, which is one of the great conquests of the workforce in Business Agility.

Do you want us to accompany your organization in its transformation process? We will be your agent of change.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest news from our blog

Start working better