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Interview: Linda Rising on "Fearless Change" Patterns

by Abel Avram on Aug 12, 2008 |

In this interview made by Floyd Marinescu, co-founder of InfoQ, Linda Rising talks about the book "Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas" and offers examples of how the patterns presented in the book can ease Agile adoption.

Watch: Linda Rising About Fearless Change (30 min)

Linda has discovered there are patterns about introducing new ideas to an organization. She has studied the human brain and human interactions, and, along with other people who contributed to the research, has come up with some patterns of human behavior related to adoption of new ideas. Fearless Change contains a long list of patterns which have a general application, so they can be applied successfully to Agile adoption.

Linda explains how to use some of the patterns to make someone's life easier when he comes from an Agile conference and wants to convince his colleagues about the value of being agile. The patterns she explains in great detail are:

  • Evangelist
  • Innovator
  • Brown Bag
  • External Validation
  • Guru on Your Side
  • Hometown Story
  • Connectors

The following list contains all the patterns contained in the book Fearless Change:

  1. Ask for Help. Since the task of introducing a new idea into an organization is a big job, look for people and resources to help your efforts.
  2. Big Jolt. To provide more visibility for the change effort, invite a high profile person into your organization to talk about the new idea.
  3. Bridge-Builder. Pair those who have accepted the new idea with those who have not.
  4. Brown Bag. Use the time when people normally eat lunch to provide a convenient and relaxed setting for hearing about the new idea.
  5. Champion Skeptic. Ask for Help from strong opinion leaders, who are skeptical of your new idea, to play the role of “official skeptic.” Use their comments to improve your effort, even if you don’t change their minds.
  6. Connector. To help you spread the word about the innovation, Ask for Help from people who have connections with many others in the organization.
  7. Corporate Angel. To help align the innovation with the goals of the organization, get support from a highlevel executive.
  8. Corridor Politics. Informally work on decision makers and key influencers before an important vote to make sure they fully understand the consequences of the decision.
  9. Dedicated Champion. To increase your effectiveness in introducing your new idea, make a case for having the work part of your job description.
  10. Do Food. Make an ordinary gathering a special event by including food.
  11. e-Forum. Set up an electronic bulletin board, distribution list, listserve, or writeable Web site for those who want to hear more.
  12. Early Adopter. Win the support of the people who can be opinion leaders for the new idea.
  13. Early Majority. To create commitment to the new idea in the organization, you must convince the majority.
  14. Evangelist. To begin to introduce the new idea into your organization, do everything you can to share your passion for it.
  15. External Validation. To increase the credibility of the new idea, bring in information from sources external to the organization.
  16. Fear Less. Turn resistance to the new idea to your advantage.
  17. Group Identity. Give the change effort an identity to help people recognize that it exists.
  18. Guru on Your Side. Enlist the support of senior-level people who are esteemed by members of the organization.
  19. Guru Review. Gather anyone who is a Guru on Your Side and other interested colleagues to evaluate the new idea for managers and other developers.
  20. Hometown Story. To help people see the usefulness of the new idea, encourage those who have had success with it to share their stories.
  21. In Your Space. Keep the new idea visible by placing reminders throughout your organization.
  22. Innovator. When you begin the change initiative, Ask for Help from colleagues who like new ideas.
  23. Involve Everyone. For a new idea to be successful across an organization, everyone should have an opportunity to support the innovation and make his own unique contribution.
  24. Just Do It. To prepare to spread the word about the new idea, use it in your own work to discover its benefits and limitations.
  25. Just Enough. To ease learners into the more difficult concepts of a new idea, give a brief introduction and then make more information available when they are ready.
  26. Just Say Thanks. To show your appreciation, say “Thanks” in the most sincere way you can to everyone who helps you.
  27. Local Sponsor. Ask for Help from first-line management. When your boss supports the tasks you are doing to introduce the new idea, you can be even more effective.
  28. Location, Location, Location. To avoid interruptions that disrupt the flow of an event, try to hold significant events off site.
  29. Mentor. When a project wants to get started with the new idea, have someone around who understands it and can help the team.
  30. Next Steps. Take time near the end of an event about the new idea to identify what participants can do next.
  31. Personal Touch. To convince people of the value in a new idea, show how it can be personally useful and valuable to them.
  32. Piggyback. When faced with several obstacles in your strategy to introduce something new, look for a way to piggyback on a practice in your organization.
  33. Plant the Seeds. To spark interest, carry materials (seeds) and display (plant) them when the opportunity arises.
  34. The Right Time. Consider the timing when you schedule events or when you ask others for help.
  35. Royal Audience. Arrange for management and members of the organization to spend time with a Big Jolt visitor.
  36. Shoulder to Cry On. To avoid becoming too discouraged when the going gets tough, find opportunities to talk with others who are also struggling to introduce a new idea.
  37. Small Successes. To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the challenges and all the things you have to do when you’re involved in an organizational change effort, celebrate even small successes.
  38. Smell of Success. When your efforts result in some visible positive result, people will come out of the woodwork to talk to you. Treat this opportunity as a teaching moment.
  39. Stay in Touch. Once you’ve enlisted the support of key persons, don’t forget about them and make sure they don’t forget about you.
  40. Step by Step. Relieve your frustration at the enormous task of changing an organization by taking one small step at a time toward your goal.
  41. Study Group. Form a small group of colleagues who are interested in exploring or continuing to learn about a specific topic.
  42. Sustained Momentum. Take a pro-active approach to the ongoing work of sustaining the interest in the new idea in your organization.
  43. Tailor Made. To convince people in the organization of the value they can gain from the new idea, tailor your message to the needs of the organization.
  44. Test the Waters. When a new opportunity presents itself, see if there is any interest by using some of the patterns in this language and then evaluating the result.
  45. Time For Reflection. To learn from the past, take time at regular intervals to evaluate what is working well and what should be done differently.
  46. Token. To keep a new idea alive in a person’s memory, hand out tokens that can be identified with the topic being introduced.
  47. Trial Run. When the organization is not willing to commit to the new idea, suggest that they experiment with it for a short period and study the results.
  48. Whisper in the General’s Ear. Managers are sometimes hard to convince in a group setting, so meet privately to address any concerns.

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