Speaker 1:           Welcome to Conversations of Agile Change with Dr. Jen from and Lena Ross. Join us as we dive deep into the world of agile change, engaging with individuals who are at the forefront of agile transformation. We explore how they adapt, change practices, enhance leadership capabilities, and uncover the strategies that succeed and those that don’t. We’re recording on the lands of the Boon Wang and wri Wang Peoples, and we acknowledge the rich history of change and agility within the First Nations communities. As Australia-wide. We honor and pay our respects to the elders both past and present, and extend that respect to any indigenous persons joining us today.

Lena:           Hello everybody. I’m Lena Ross, co-founder of the Agile Change Leadership Institute, and welcome to our podcast Conversations of Agile Change. Joining me today as our guest is Kylie Brown, who is a director of organizational change for a major government agency here in Australia where we are podcasting from. Kylie is passionate about delivering digital products and the ones that allow people to work smarter, improve service delivery, and ultimately transform staff and client experiences with a background in change management and digital communications and strong technical knowledge of UX design and agile product development. She leads with empathy, curiosity, and a commitment to building team culture that enables cross-functional teams to thrive and succeed. Kylie, a big welcome to our podcast. Hello.

Kylie:           Hi, Lena. Thanks for having me. 

Lena:           That’s our pleasure. We’ve certainly seen examples of your passion in your roles, so we’re really excited that we’re going to be able to chat with you today to find out more so our listeners can learn from your experience. So Kylie, we usually kick off asking how did the universe conspire to get you in your current role and do this amazing work that we love hearing about?

Kylie:           It’s been a long and windy road, probably a lot of change managers who’ve been around for a while. I actually started in strategic communications, so that is my background, and at some point I ended up on a relocation project, so it was bringing three offices into one in the Melbourne CBD. And at that stage, the organization that I was working for didn’t really have a good understanding of what change management is, so I was called a communications and stakeholder engagement advisor, but as we later learn, that is essentially what G management is. So that’s how I started. And then from that, they saw the value in that we set up an organizational change management function in the organization and then transferred from there into digital transformation. So the last two major projects that I’ve been working on have related to digital transformation.

Lena:           Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it, how role titles have evolved, like you said, over time to finally land where it is what we do. And through those evolutions in your roles, you’ve probably seen more and more agility creep in as well into day-to-day and how we deliver change and plan change. Do you want to talk us through a little bit how that agility has come into your life and helped place that in your workplace or past workplaces?

Kylie:           Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it definitely has evolved over time, particularly I think at much faster pace since covid. So we needed to do things more quickly and the turnaround timeframes were crunched and since then they haven’t seemed to go back. To be honest, there’s not that long runway that they used to be to plan change projects that maybe existed five, 10 years ago. So the way that we’ve seen it is probably threefold. We’ve seen it through agile projects run in Agile like using Scrum. So that means that we have to fit to the cadence of how those projects are run, whether that is monthly releases or quarterly releases, but it has changed the way that change management and how we deliver change management runs. And I think then the other way is that we have started to adopt some of those agile little a agile practices in the way that we work.

Kylie:           And a lot of that is because of that pace. So long gone are the lengthy documents that you spend a month preparing at the beginning of any change initiative. We need to get all that information more quickly. What we have actually started to do is kind of do that in stages and present that just in time as we’re discovering that. So starting with stakeholder analysis and then moving into change impacts, et cetera. All the bits along the way, we share that with our governance groups as we are doing it rather than one big document at the end. And then I think the third thing, which is more aspirational is agile organizations. So agile organizations that are nimble, they evaluate and under constant improvement cycles where change is normalized in routine, it’s kind of embedded in DNA of an organizational culture. That’s kind of the gold standard. That’s where we’d love to be. And I think that that will again see probably another evolution of change management practice as well.

Lena:           Yeah, that’s true. So you’ve hit on a couple of things there, like the change management practice and then at organizational level with the change management practice and your team, how do you find, what’s the best approach you’ve taken or what works really well do you think to increase or build their change capability with agility?

Kylie:           So the team itself, we started, when I started with my current team, the focus was really on communications and training. They had a strong desire to be doing more than that. So that was the first thing, how do we take us from where we are now and into probably that more agile mindset and proving and showing value throughout the organization through the work we do, but also through those governance structures as well. So bringing the people focused or people lens to all of the conversations rather than just the project lens. So that was one of the first things that we did. I think then making sure that anything that we produce, the artifacts have purpose. So making sure that they are relevant to the audiences. And that’s where I’m a massive, massive fan of visual communication and I know that you guys preach about it.

Kylie:           I think it’s fantastic. And it also allows us to be agile because we are not having to write long documents or anything like that. So we introduced that as kind of like a template, but it’s really adaptable and flexible because it has to be meeting the needs of whoever you’re communicating with, whether that is your project sponsors, project boards all the way through down to working with line managers, et cetera. So we reuse those a lot, makes it quick and easy. But also the benefit I think of using visual communication is it allows people to absorb information quickly, and then the value of it is you’re having the right conversations. You’re not having the conversations about how it’s worded in a sentence or a paragraph. You’re actually having those meaningful conversations about, well, what does this mean for our people? What are the impacts going to be? Where are the change risks, et cetera. So that’s the big shift I think that we’ve seen probably in the last 12 months that in addition, more collaboration. So engagement absolutely critical. And so that’s us getting out and speaking to people and not being project led, making sure that we have those contacts with our SMEs and the business areas, running our own business rep groups. And I think that’s been really, really helpful too. I think that’s probably something that we all know, engagement always trumps everything.

Kylie:           And I think I’ve mentioned it in relation to communication, but also the approach always being adaptive and responsive. So it’s that testing and evaluating in just in small bite-sized chunks, is this working? If not, how do we pivot? So I think those things are probably at the core of it all.

Lena:           They sound like really good operating principles too, don’t they? And that real shift, it sounds like Kylie, from an artifact for the sake of the artifact, but really it’s to springboard those conversations and the engagement, like you said. What sort of feedback are you getting from the people at the receiving end of this?

Kylie:           I would say there’s been really positive feedback, but I think more than what’s more valuable than that is actually seeing how it’s been adopted. So as I said, the really great conversations, but also it’s enabled the change leadership to step up a notch as well. So they’ve wanted to become or be change leaders, but we’re now giving them the information and the tools that they need to be able to do that and lead the change effectively. I’m not saying we’ve got it perfect, we’ve still got a way to go because we’re on her journey. This is a continuum. But yeah, no, it’s really made a big difference to the work that we’re doing.

Lena:           That’s great. So you’ve mentioned visual comms. Are there other favorite agile, if we call them agile change practices or principles that really resonate with you or some of your team members?

Kylie:           I think visual comms, absolutely, because that actually has enabled us to, as I said, also look at capability uplift as well, both for the team but also for the organization. I think the other thing that I’m seeing emerging a lot more is the need for the change manager to be a facilitator. I mean, all the work that we do actually in the last five years. So in the variety of organizations that I’ve worked with, we’ve had to move to remote, so during covid, but now we are staying at hybrid, so we have had to learn how to facilitate a lot of those workshops and conversations remotely. And I think that that’s a slightly different facilitation technique than you might if you were face-to-face and post-Its, I do miss those days, but there is great benefit in doing it using whiteboard or whatever, if you’re fortunate enough to have access to a mule, which I would love, but we don’t. So I think those things mean that actually we can do things more quickly. You don’t have to scribe, you don’t have to take it all down. People are doing all the typing for you. It’s quick and it’s easy and it actually makes the analysis at the end of that probably a lot quicker as well, I think. So we’ve used that as a practicing a technique a lot more as part of our engagement, and it’s been really effective.

Lena:           That’s great. It’s great. People have really lifted their game, haven’t they? With that. And the flip side to that, which I find really interesting is have people have adapted it so quickly, we talk about adoption and people sometimes not liking change, but this imposed change that Covid gifted us with remote working and getting better at delivering things virtually seems, doesn’t seem to have been a difficult one to adopt. It seems a lot of people have just taken to it.

Kylie:           I think they have, but I think the flip side to that is that the change saturation and fatigue now, or has been for few years is setting in. So that is something that we’re really cognizant of anytime we’re introducing a new change. And I think that’s consistent across the board, particularly for organizations who’ve gone through digital transformation at the same time as having to deal with covid. There was a lot to absorb. We know we can do it. We know that it wasn’t always done well, and there’s great lessons to be learned from all of that. But yeah, I think that if we keep it that frantic pace, I think it’s going to, we’re see the health and wellbeing of our people affected, and now that brings us to that next level, which is we need to be managing that pipeline of work more effectively, be really mindful of helpful wellbeing of our people and how all of those change impacts consolidated view of those change impacts so that we understand how that’s working and affecting teams and people.

Lena:           Yes. Yeah, and that’s a good point. I think a lot of change teams and change practices are hourly going to that view to see what the collective looks like. And that starts to lead our conversation to looking at change and agility through a more organizational lens or a more portfolio lens. So Kylie, we know that you are in the process of building an impressive and strong community of practice where you are at the moment. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how you pulled it together and things that might’ve got in the way or getting in your way?

Kylie:          First of all, I have to say it’s very young. 

Lena:          It’s going to start somewhere.

Kylie:          but it’s been pleasantly surprising how many people are interested in learning more about change management. There are people who are doing just because they are interested, there are change advocates who put up their hand in their teams to say, yeah, I want to contribute to this. Usually the innovators, we have some people who it’s just landed on their plate because somebody needs to pick up that work in their team. We have change leaders who are interested, so usually at the line management or who are managing people who are going through those changes. And so it’s quite broad. We haven’t kept it just to a change management professional practice. We want to make sure that the capability across the organization is increased at multiple levels. So the way that we plan to approach that is as we run our workshops with them, they will have different focuses. Some of them will be really, really practical. Some of them will be inviting guest speakers in and thank you to you, Dr. Jen Frahm, who’ve actually done one for us. And I think that given that variety actually helps people be engaged. So when they’re really practical, we’ll see probably less people attend and when they’re broader, we have seen quite a few people attend from the organization.

Lena:           Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. And has anything surprised you so far in the way in your early build? You said you were in the early phases. Is anything surprising you?

Kylie:           Well, I can’t take credit for this. The team did a fantastic job at setting the groundwork. So we took the change management approach to setting it up. We made sure that we engaged with people early so that we had allies in helping us to set that up, making sure that we had the right focus. And then of course, once we’ve got those people who have put up their hand and said, we want to be involved, we’ve asked them what they want. Why have you joined this? What do you expect? So that we know that they’re really hard to keep the momentum going for communities of practice, and they can die off fairly easily. So we want to make sure that we’re always delivering something of value. So that means constant engagement with them, asking them what they want and getting feedback from ’em. So we try to make those sessions are engaging as well.

Lena:           And from what we saw, there was a lot of senior executive involvement in that and attendance, which was very, that’s contributed to the impressive nature I think, of the community you are building and also how the word’s going to spread because if the important people are there, a lot of other people that want to be there and be seen.

Kylie:           You’re absolutely right. And I’m really grateful that there is really strong leadership around the importance of change management at an executive level. So I think that has been a real key to not just the success of the cop, but also for the work that we have been doing in the last few years and allowing us to transform alongside the organization, our change management capability.

Lena:           Yeah, no, it’s been very impressive. And another thing that we know about you that’s also impressive is you’re a lifelong learner and you are so curious and not frightened to experiment. So we love the courage that you show. What are some of the things that you’ve learned that have stood out for you that you’ve been excited to go and apply straight away?

Kylie:           I think probably when in my previous role, I was very fortunate to work alongside some fantastic service designers, which got me really interested in human-centered design and could really see the parallels with the work that we do. The artifacts or what we produce out of it might be different, but the conversations often are the same. And so I think that’s probably one thing that I’ve absorbed a lot of that into my practice. And in fact, when I’m facilitating a workshop or designing a new workshop, I will usually look to human-centered design, my human-centered design toolkits, or to get inspired as to how we can do this really well. So I think and learning from other disciplines, and I think that’s actually why change management is adapting and evolving because, and I feel like we’re doing that at a faster pace and say, for example, project management, which has been fairly structured and consistent for a long period of time now. But I think that the challenge, which I think from what I can see a lot of change managers are really kind of stepping up to is as capability increases in an organization, you need to then take that next step to be meeting people where they’re at, which means that we constantly have to evolve alongside the capability of the organization. Expectations increase. And also it gives us an opportunity. I mean, the way that mainly we do this is through experimentation.

Kylie:           So anytime we do something for the first time, there is always a debrief, did this work? How can we do it better? Lovely. And so we just evolve. And I think the other thing is it needs to be fit for purpose. So I don’t think I’ve ever run workshops the same way. They always will depend on who the audience is and how big or small what we’re trying to get out of it, but also what is, if it’s a team, what’s the team culture like, et cetera. So we design usually with them before we actually run those workshops.

Lena:           Yeah, that’s really nice. And you said something there that reminded me when you experiment and then you go back and do a mini retrospective or reflect on it, it keeps the environment really safe because you’re experimenting and then you’re talking about what didn’t go well in a safe forum. So it really builds that safety around trying something new again rather than it being punitive or scary. So it’s really nice to hear that that just continues. That just builds more and more momentum for more experimentation, which I know you’ve never been frightened of.

Kylie:           No, never. But it’s really important to do that because a lot of the team, my team that I’m working with, they’re new to some of these facilitation methods. So there is an element of coaching around that, but also the opportunity for them to reflect is really key. Yes,

Lena:           They self-coach in a way, don’t they? Because they reflect themselves and then they do the thinking and we just facilitate it, which is nice. Yeah. Well, if you had a magic wand, Kylie, what might you wish for maybe in this role or maybe career-wise in general, to make your path easier?

Kylie:           I love data. So I think my wish is to have better access to data for data informed decision making. And it’s a little bit of a struggle at the moment. We don’t have some of the systems in place that other organizations have, and so we’re having to do that a lot in the judicial methods surveys and asking people, there’s an element of quantitative and qualitative around that. But I think being able to use that data to then tell the picture of where is the organization at better manage change saturation and work towards an organization being changed fit. That’s what I’m thinking about at the moment. How can we take those steps to get us to a place where ultimately, because hearing a lot about change fatigue, how can we do that better? So probably if I had a magic wand, that would probably be it good access to being able to Also the tools, we can do those things manually in PowerPoint presentations and things like that. The tools generally at this stage are for really big organizations and are expensive. My magic wand, if I had a magic wand, it would be finding something, a product or that is available for us to do that at midsize organizations in an affordable way.

Lena:           Yeah, you’re right. And look, I’ve heard that pain point expressed before, and it is the cost, and it’s also the complexity of if there’s a tool there, and they can be sometimes barriers to wanting to do something better as well. So it’s that fine balance, isn’t it? No, that’s a really good point. To wrap up, Kylie, can you share, if you had to share a couple of tips for other change practitioners or change practice leaders or directors of change wanting to bring a little more agility into their change practice, what would you say to them?

Kylie:           Well, first of all, don’t be afraid to experiment. I think that when we have explained it to groups that we’re working with, that this is the first time we’ve done this, where we invite your feedback at the end, they are also more gentle with us. So that’s actually good, and it allows us to continue to adapt. So I think that’s probably one thing. I think then that leads to this being committed to continuous improvement. So always reviewing. We’ve just introduced a framework and principles where we’re at now, but we need to review those and make sure that they’re going to, they have currency in the future. So I think it’s that evaluation and not being afraid to experiment.

Lena:           Yeah, great wisdom and great parting words from you, Kylie, who I know is very brave and courageous in all those things you like to do. 

Kylie:           I’m not sure about brave and courageous, but definitely curious. Okay. 

Lena:           Well, with curiosity comes some bravery and courage too. I know that because seen you in action. It’s fantastic. It’s fantastic to have you with us. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you wished I did? If there’s anything else you want to get into the conversation? 

Kylie:            No, I think we’ve covered it all. Lena, it’s been a great conversation. 

Lena:            Yeah, it has been a great conversation and you’ve shared some great tips and insights into your approach and shared your wisdom with some people who I know listening would find it really, really valuable to take and apply as well. So on behalf of conversations of Agile Change and Dr. Jen Frahm and myself, we’d like to thank you so much for being our podcast host today. 

Kylie:             Thank you. Thank you very much for your time. 

Lena:             Thank you.

Speaker 1:           Thanks for joining us on this conversation of Agile Change. If you’re keen for more insights and inspiration from Dr. Jen, from and Lena Ross, you can connect on LinkedIn to stay updated with their latest thoughts and discoveries. Follow the Agile Change Leadership Institute on LinkedIn or Facebook for a wealth of valuable resources. Subscribe to our biweekly sprint notes where you’ll find thought provoking content delivered straight to your inbox, or check out at Agile Change on Instagram. We look forward to having you back for more insightful conversations on Agile change. Until next time, be brave, be curious, and have fun with change.


Kylie and her team completed the Agile Change Management Certificate program.