Managing changes with the Lean Change Management Model

Lucas Oliveira
Jan 9 · 7 min read

When organizational changes are discussed, that sinking feeling in your gut is almost inevitable. Thinking about changes on this scale immediately generates doubts such as:

  • Who should I involve in these decisions, and who should I simply communicate with?
  • How did this come to be?
  • What are the ways this change can go?
  • Why should this change happen?
  • How will I know if it’s working?

Jason Little’s Lean Change Management Model was made to help answer these questions, among others — let’s get down to business.

What is the Lean Change Management Model?

The Lean Change Management Model is a non-linear, collaborative model which uses feedback to help direct changes.

From a macro lens, the model is divided into 4 stages:

  • Strategy;
  • Prioritization;
  • Introduction;
  • Feedback cycle.


This is where the process to organize the change begins, and it’s intended endpoint is defined. Put emphasis on the questions that matter, like:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • How will we know if it’s working?
  • How can people be helped during this transition?

To facilitate the construction of a strategic vision, the model suggests responding to the following questions using the Strategic Change Canvas, which also promotes transparency.

JKstrategic change canvas v1.0

Vision: what is expected of this change?

It’s essential to make it clear what the final destination of this change looks like. This helps keep everyone aligned with the direction that will be taken.

Importance: why is this change important to the organization?

Knowing the final destination is just as important as recognizing why it’s necessary to change where you are. This brings about a larger understanding of what you hope to solve by the change’s end.

Measures of success: how will success be measured?

This is the stage to reflect on the numbers that will be tracked as the hypothesis is executed. It’s important that every experiment has a clear vision of how progress will be measured throughout its execution, and what the experiment hopes to accomplish.

Success criteria: how will we show progress regarding our vision?

Here, we take a qualitative approach to what we expect the change will bring about, analysing the impact that is expected on a given context, and how progress will be monitored as the change is executed.

Who and what is affected: what people, departments, and processes need to change to realize the vision?

This is the quadrant I consider the most important — who should be informed of changes, and who should actually be involved. This information makes it easier to understand the impacts that will be felt by the operation, how to minimize them, and what people should participate in the planning and execution of some activities.

I tend to classify processes, departments, and people using:

  • Green: low impact, optional participation;
  • Yellow: medium impact, participation is important but not essential;
  • Red: high impact, participation is necessary.

How to support people: what should those involved in the change do to support people affected by the transformation process?

When you can clearly see what the change will impact, it becomes easy to understand how to support people. The task becomes understanding how these changes will impact people’s day-to-day life, and how those involved in decision-making can support people in order to minimize resistance to the initiative.

Options: the list of possible experiments

This is where the main points of the strategy stage are created and translated into options that can address the previously defined success criteria. I recommend a brainstorm, in a judgement-free environment, to foster a variety of ideas. This allows many ideas to be taken to the next step, where they possibly become experiments — this is referred to as the prioritization stage.


The stage to evaluate what options will be determined eligible to become experiments. To help define the criteria that will be considered in prioritization, I recommend using the Lean Change Management Options Board v1.0. It guides a Cost-Benefit analysis, considering the following:


  • How many people are affected?;
  • How difficult will this option be?;
  • Are there costly expenses (ex: training, purchasing of tools);


  • How well is this option aligned with our vision?;
  • A low benefit isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Organize these criteria into two axes (benefit: x-axis and cost: y-axis) and distribute the options on the graph, trying to reach a consensus — the farther right the higher aggregate benefit, the higher up the greater the cost to realize it.

After this exercise, what should be considered a priority should be left clear. To facilitate the Lean Change Management Options Board v1.0, an interpretation for each position is proposed.

lean change management options board v1.0

Momentum Builders: low cost and low benefit options, these can help contribute to people’s engagement with the change. Items in this area are easy to execute, but they render few substantial results.

Quick Wins: options in this quadrant help to quickly visualize progress, as they are low cost options with a medium/high benefit.

Necessary Evils: the options in this position might be considered a waste, however these might be necessary for larger or more risk-prone organizations.

Disruptors: it is very possible that the options in this quadrant won’t work out or are at least risky, since they affect many people and departments. If a priority, I recommend them being broken into many small experiments.

Bridges: the safest options, easiest for the people affected by the change to understand where they are and where the organization is headed.

Now we just need to use good old common sense to prioritize, taking these interpretations into account, but remembering they are not set in stone. Each option needs to be evaluated individually, taking your context into consideration, and adapting it to your reality.

Now, we already have a detailed plan for change, the options that can help us reach our destination, and how these options will be prioritized.


It’s important to have a clear view of progress as an option is executed. Thus, I strongly recommend that options are broken down into smaller parts, called experiments.

“Change is as much art as it is science. Instead of having change activities, be explicit about using change experiments instead. This will help you focus on the outcome of the experiment. — Happy Melly”

To promote even more transparency regarding the experiments being executed, the model proposes the Experiment Tracker.

experiment tracker v1.0

This board is divided by an experiment’s 5 phases:

  • Theme;
  • Preparation;
  • Introduce;
  • Review;
  • Insights.


In this quadrant, the big picture should be present, or at least the option with which this experiment is associated with, making it easier to understand the relationship between the experiments and the options.


This quadrant should contain all the experiments that are still in the planning phase. I suggest that a consensus is reached as to when an experiment is ready to begin, something resembling the notorious Definition Of Ready. This will help the forum reach a consensus on what options or experiments can be initiated.

In my experience using this model, we consider an experiment Ready when:

  1. It’s clear how it’s going to be executed;
  2. The benefit/importance of the experiment’s execution is clear;
  3. We understand the impact the experiment will have;
  4. How, and for how long, we will need to monitor (quantitatively or qualitatively) this experiment to know if it’s helping us move towards the envisioned change;


This quadrant shows the experiments being executed — it’s important to keep an eye on the W.I.P. of this column, since simultaneous executions can make it harder to measure success or failure in an isolated manner.

Additionally, it’s important that a consensus exists regarding what a finalized experiment is, formed using something similar to the D.O.D.


Given that an experiment is finalized, it’s fundamental to understand the impact it has had. This is the column where evidence is presented to verify results.

This is the principal period for insights within the experimental flow — it’s here that we measure the results and extract lessons to improve future plans, and where we understand if new experiments or options are needed. We revisit priorities and identify if its necessary to pivot to another option.


Just as important as the learning of insights is the sharing of the insights that have been obtained.

This is the stage where we celebrate and document what has been learned throughout the option’s execution.

Feedback cycle

And so we continue this cycle of planning, execution, analysis, and adjustments. All these models should work cyclically; using all the inputs and outputs of each stage to help direct change, together with the insights the change brings, creates a culture that pays attention to results, continuous improvement, and an organization’s transparency.

I hope this post has helped you manage changes within your company, or your context, better.

Until next time!


Lucas Oliveira

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