Change has always been an element of business, but in recent years it has also become a specialization. Transformation initiatives, both large and small, are becoming increasingly important as businesses struggle to capitalize on the technology, markets, and customer expectations that shape their strategy. For a business to survive and thrive, it must be prepared to evolve.
Due to this, the role of ‘change manager’ is gaining increased prominence. Organizations are realizing that change management is not just a project-be-project investment but a permanent commitment towards optimizing enterprise agility.
To cope with this, along with the complexity of change management in general, more businesses are investing in change management frameworks. These offer tools and best practices to help shape and implement change initiatives in a way that minimizes resistance and maximizes benefits. At the same time, most are flexible enough to suit businesses regardless of size, structure, industry, or anything else.
There are several competing frameworks that take different approaches to enterprise transformation. Two of the main competitors are AgileSHIFT, an AXELOS framework that aims to upskill entire organizations on how to support change, and APMG Change Management, a comprehensive framework that helps stakeholders and managers lead strategic transformation initiatives.
So, what distinguishes these two frameworks? What do they have to offer? Who are they best suited to? In this article, we take a look at how to choose your ideal change management framework.
AgileSHIFT is a framework for enabling and leading change based on Lean and Agile. It helps businesses to become more flexible and efficient in how they pursue change while also empowering employees in different teams and departments to suggest their own improvements.
While Agile is fairly well known in software development and project management, many employees within a typical business will not be familiar with it. They may well expect the top-down control associated with traditional management.
AgileSHIFT overcomes this by upskilling candidates across different teams, departments, and levels of seniority in Agile practices. It empowers individuals to suggest, implement, and support change by helping them to understand its value, both for individual projects and wider change programs. The result is enhanced ‘enterprise agility’, which refers to an entire business’s ability to adapt and evolve. With individuals feeling comfortable enough to make their own suggestions, practitioners may well discover opportunities that would have remained invisible to typical change teams.
The Agile aspect also applies to how practitioners enjoy the benefits of change management. AgileSHIFT initiatives deliver iterative value via short-term targets, giving businesses the chance to enjoy tangible benefits earlier on. This can further augment motivation within various areas of a business to support changes as they occur.
While there is a great deal to say for the benefits of Agile as a whole, whether or not AgileSHIFT is right for you will depend on how ‘agile’ your organization currently is. It can be difficult to adhere to at first, especially for larger businesses more used to traditional management, and practitioners must be active in having others adopt AgileSHIFT best practices.
If you are considering AgileSHIFT but are not used to Agile management, you may want to consider applying Agile elsewhere first. Project management and software development, particularly in smaller teams, are better suited to Agile in its basic form. Success in these areas could well help you win support for applying the AgileSHIFT framework to your organization.
Choosing Change Management
The APMG Change Management framework is a comprehensive methodology for driving transformation initiatives. Based on the Effective Change Manager’s Handbook and aligned with the Change Management Body of Knowledge, it offers insight from some of the world’s leading change management specialists. The framework is also linked to the Change Management Institute, which will continue updating it over time.
Change Management looks at how transformation impacts individuals, teams, and stakeholders, as well as how to manage resistance and expectations from different sources. Students receive guidance on how to predict where resistance will occur, as well as how to alleviate it and turn it into support.
The framework is comprehensive in its approach, focusing on how change impacts individuals, teams, and stakeholders, as well as how to manage them separately. It goes into a lot of detail on how to predict where resistance will come from and how to not only alleviate it but also translate it into support.
What sets Change Management apart from AgileSHIFT is its large focus on stakeholder engagement. Practitioners know how to justify changes and targets based on a stakeholder’s individual goals and requirements, alleviating resistance and creating top-down support to keep change initiatives running smoothly.
Like AgileSHIFT, Change Management acknowledges both that change affects everyone and that it is a constant force. As such, it aims to implement a permanent cultural shift, making businesses more capable of following the framework and providing support as necessary. With this well-structured approach, businesses also find it easier to react to new opportunities for change and can capitalize on them far more quickly.
Should I choose AgileSHIFT or Change Management?
There is no clear winner in terms of what the two change management frameworks focus on. Both recognize the importance of implementing permanent cultural improvements in order to make businesses more open to and supportive of change. They also have a joint focus on dealing with people on an individual level, rather than simply forcing changes through. All of this is excellent for creating supportive businesses, driving successful transformation programs, and enjoying optimized results.
The main difference is in their use of Agile. Change Management acknowledges agile ways of working but puts a great deal of emphasis on leaders and stakeholders. Leaders should engage with teams to alleviate issues, and stakeholder engagement is a major priority. AgileSHIFT, on the other hand, is more about empowering individuals to support and initiate change initiatives, with much less emphasis on their seniority.
This is where choosing between them gets a little easier. There are a number of benefits to using Agile, such as increased speed, greater flexibility, and iterative benefits. However, it also makes several departures from traditional waterfall-style management, and this is something that many businesses choose to avoid.
If an organization is not used to Agile, choosing a more traditional option like APMG Change Management may be for the best. That is not to say that AgileSHIFT is in any way inferior; it just has more of a ground-up approach. Arguably, its Agile aspects also make it easier to tailor the framework towards individual businesses and their evolving needs.
Ultimately, your choice will most likely depend on your attitude towards Agile. Even large and traditional organizations can benefit from choosing either approach but may have an easier time with implementing the APMG Change Management framework.
Combining AgileSHIFT and Change Management
As an individual, it can certainly be helpful to study different branches of change management, as doing so can open up a wider variety of job opportunities.
However, for companies, it can be best to go with one framework rather than two, simply for the sake of avoiding conflict and confusion. Both Change Management and AgileSHIFT deal with organizational change, and while they may be compatible, implementing both at once can cause problems within an initiative.
It will be a good idea for you to consult with anyone who currently performs the role of ‘change management professional’ in your organization, as they will likely have a strong preference for how to manage things going forwards.
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