Lean Change – 3 Core Practices for any Change

Jason Little, founder of Lean Change, explains his ‘feedback-driven’ approach to change, inspired by lean startup methodologies.

Key Practices and Concepts

  • Feedback-Driven Approach:

    Lean change is founded on the principles of lean startup, focusing on validation and iteration. It encourages experimentation and feedback loops to ensure solutions address actual problems rather than assumptions.

  • Exploration and Action:

    The process involves two main cycles – exploration and action.

  • Exploration includes gathering insights through surveys, assessments, and readiness evaluations.
  • Action involves taking steps based on these insights, continuously adjusting based on feedback.
  • Diagnostics and Measurements:

    Early stages of change make precise measurements challenging. Instead, diagnostics help determine if the change is on the right path. These diagnostics offer early indicators of success or areas needing adjustment.

Tools and Techniques

  • Visualisation:

Visualisation is a cornerstone of lean change. It involves making work visible through tools like Kanban boards, which help teams manage progress and address issues promptly. Visualisation creates a single source of truth, making it easier to identify and solve problems.

  • Change Canvases:

    Change canvases facilitate meaningful conversations. The storytelling canvas, for instance, focuses on honouring the past, accepting change, and taking action. It simplifies complex change management concepts into relatable stories, fostering alignment and understanding.

  • Culture Hacking:

    Inspired by Stefan Haas, culture hacking involves identifying and addressing the cracks in an organisation’s culture. It ranges from safe, expected changes to disruptive, innovative actions that challenge the status quo.

Experimentation and Iteration

Lean change advocates for a structured yet flexible approach to change. Experiments are essential for navigating uncertainty. They help validate assumptions and guide actions based on real-world feedback. Jason highlights the importance of generating multiple options and making informed trade-offs based on cost, value, and feasibility.

Overcoming Challenges

  • Motivation and Ability:

Jason discusses BJ Fogg’s behaviour model, emphasising the need to balance motivation and ability. High motivation with high difficulty requires making tasks easier, while low motivation but easy tasks necessitate inspiration.

  • Handling Dependencies:

    Visualising dependencies using tools like sticky notes and string can clarify ownership and connections, fostering better decision-making and coordination.

Embracing a License to Learn mindset

An essential aspect of lean change is creating a safe environment for experimentation. Jason advocates for a “license to learn” mindset, where failures are viewed as learning opportunities rather than setbacks. This approach encourages continuous improvement and innovation.


Lean change is a dynamic, iterative process that empowers organisations to navigate complex changes effectively. By embracing feedback, visualisation, and experimentation, change managers can drive meaningful, lasting transformations.

Let’s embrace the lean change journey together and transform our organisations from within.

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Emily Rich

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