Richard Atherton is a partner at First Human, a company creating human-centered businesses that make a huge difference in the world. We talk about how lean change management empowers workers to change things themselves.



Subscribe to the Collaboration Superpowers Podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify.



Podcast production by Podcast Monster

Graphic design by Alfred Boland

Sign up for the Collaboration Superpowers newsletter (yellow)

More resources

61 – Hire The Best For Your Remote Team

128 – Use The Human Touch For Remote Connection

165 – Join The Agile Online Summit With Tom Henricksen

234 – From Chaos To Successful Distributed Agile Teams

168 – Evolve Your Rituals To Include Your Remote Colleagues



Original transcript

Lisette:  Great and we’re live, so welcome everybody to this remote interview, my name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely and today on the line all the way from London in the UK Richard Atherton. Richard you are a partner at First Human, it’s a company that’s creating a human-centered business that make a huge difference in the world and we’re going to dive into that and also you were the first lean change management facilitator in the UK and probably the most active one in the UK. So we’re going to get into lean change management as well but let’s start with what does your virtual office look like? What do you need to get your work done?

Richard Atherton:  Okay Lisette, I know some of you are going to be listening on audio, I’ve got to take a risk here and see if I can show you a little bit.

Lisette:  Yeah.

Richard Atherton:  Bear with me, okay so my virtual office, so for people who are just listening I’m just showing Lisette and the viewers. So there’s a tree.

Lisette:  Lovely, bookshelf.

Richard Atherton:   And then I’ve got this kind of crazy yoga type platform that my dad built for me so that I can sit on post chair Lisette as much as possible.

Lisette:  Love it.

Richard Atherton:  Chairs kill, so I try and squat while I work and I’ve got a mat there and then I sit and then I have my platform love out there the square over in London there’s a private garden just attached to our square which I can look out.

Lisette:  That is a beautiful office.

Richard Atherton:  Thank you, Lisette.

Lisette:  How long have you been anti-chair?

Richard Atherton:  I hang out in LA for a while and if there is going to be a post chair movement anyway, of course, it would LA and I’ve really got into this yoga teacher there who is massively about just squat everywhere and she’s got this whole squatting Facebook page where she’s squatting at bus stops and train stations and squat while you work and yeah the idea is not good for our health to be sitting in chairs all the time and it compresses our backs and that’s one of the ways we get back pain in the waist because it’s very little back pain in squatting societies.

Lisette:  Interesting.

Richard Atherton:   Because you’re putting your lower back into motion when you stretch out during the squat rather than the compression. So hence my motivation to be, I’m not completely post, I’ve slept and I am sitting some of the time, I was a purist squatter at one point but I do definitely sit in chairs a lot less than I used to and right now I’m standing and so when I do podcasts or any interviews like this I try as much as possible to stand.

Lisette:  Interesting I love it, I have an electric sit/stand desk and find myself you know in the beginning I was standing all the time and then slowly over time I’ve been sitting more and more and more so yeah I mean as remote workers or as any knowledge worker sitting behind a laptop I mean that is actually an issue is sitting all the time I mean the weight problem is coming not only from eating too much but also from sitting too much and not moving enough and so I can imagine it has a real effect on the body.

Richard Atherton:   Yeah exactly and for all the meetings out, the pain of cooperate life at least to get you out of your chair and you have to move to an office somewhere and go sit down somewhere else. So I do find… yeah you’re right there if you are working from home it’s kind of easier just to sit all day long and not really get up much.

Lisette:  Yeah it’s very comfortable here in my home office I’ve got to say, very comfortable. So let’s talk about lean change because I want to dive into, well will talk about lean change more broadly and then I’d like to dive into it in the remote aspect in terms of your experience with lean change management and the remote world but I know a lot of the audience will know this already but let’s describe lean change for those who don’t, what is lean change management?

Richard Atherton:  Okay, so there are two parts of it, there’s a lean part of it and the change management part of it. So if we start with lean and so lean in the sense that we use it within lean change management has two connotations. So the first is lean manufacturer, manufacturing which started with the Toyota production system which was a way of empowering originally I mean its multifaceted but one of the big aspects of the Toyota production system and the lean management in that perspective is empowering the workers on the production line to make changes. So those who are affected by the work initially and make the changes themselves. So that’s one of the guiding philosophies of lean change management is that particular aspect of lean. The second connotation for lean is the sort of the new incarnation of the lean idea in terms of the lean starter. So for people who have come across Eric Ries in the lean starter movement and that’s about this idea that we visualized the whole which is an original lean concept and we create canvases to describe what it is we’re taking on. So the idea of a canvas which is central to lead starter you affected you create your business plan on a page and you model out your entire business on a single canvas. We use that the idea really heavily in lean change management. So the idea that you can plot your change initiative on a single canvas, you can plot an individual experiment which we can get into on a canvas and people collaborate around that canvas. So say lightweight means of documenting and iterating ideas.

Lisette:  Interesting, sorry so I’m just starting because this idea of visualizing work keeps coming up over and over again. It’s in Jim Benson personal [inaudible 05:53] he’s talking about visualizing work, my coach who helps me, my business coach is always saying ‘you’ve got to visualize your time,’ you know like what are you spending your time on? Make it visuals, not just the list but actually whatever you need, a picture or whatever. So is that what you were trying to get at here with the lean change, you want to visualize for the people, so you have one picture you’re looking at.

Richard Atherton:  Yeah exactly it makes it clear to everyone involved, it’s much easier to collaborate around a picture or a canvas or even a canvas of words but if it’s one centrally image it’s a great way to see the interconnectedness of the ideas and to create a single view, like to unify people and align people around a particular vision or a particular way forward and I like the… so I like Jeff Bezos is very anti power point, you can’t present a power point to him and another guy who we might both be familiar with Dave Snowden has written about instances where there’s been strong critic using power point and I think one of the reasons for that is although it is a visual till but the way it atomizes content into specific sides, so its like point A, point B, point C, and when you break apart the ideas and then focus on them in isolation which  PowerPoint lends itself to you risk seeing the bigger picture and the new ones and the interconnected ones so that’s why this idea of the canvases so important.

Lisette:  I see so because with PowerPoint you’re going step by step through each thing but with a canvas you’ve got the whole picture and you can see the details and so it’s both the bigger picture perspective and brilliant.

Richard Atherton:  Yeah and it invites people to tell stories around it and share reflections on it and perspectives but within the context of the whole as opposed to one detail. Well I think Power Point sometimes can also lend itself to this distraction of again to debate on one particular point, right and so your back and forth on this side and people arguing over the particulars and they lose the bigger picture whereas that happens less when you’re working with a canvas because you can immediately connect to how it might connect to somewhere else. So it lends itself to discussing the bigger picture.

Lisette:  Brilliant, so how do companies do change now? I mean what’s a… if you’re not doing lean change management what are you doing in a company?

Richard Atherton:  I mean you’re doing a lot of things as we would view it within lean change management right in the sense of we honor a lot of what exists within change management and a lot of the disciplines and the practices that exist, we just seek to cut out what we see as being a lot of the waste from that process and have people move more efficiently into action but in terms of the way that people can do it right now is that they often treat it as a big project to be planned right. So they… and the way that they often approach it is to typically interview all of the people who might be involved, all the stakeholders at central change team might do this, they do lots of analysis about the problem and then they work out all the activities that needs to happen in order to reach some end state then create a plan, they broadcast their message in terms of where we need to get to and why we need to get there and start moving ahead on the plan and what we say in lean change management is when you’re working in complex space that’s a naive approach because no amount of analysis and planning can account for the inherent unpredictability of human beings in a change process. So we work with that, with that uncertainty and the unpredictability is inherent when you are seeking to change the organizations.

Lisette:  So I’m thinking like the old Gantt charts that I used to have to do when I was working at the engineering firm, like we’d have like a yearlong Gantt charts and of course it totally never planned out the way you planed it and your like ‘of course it never turns out the way you plan it.’ So instead of a Gantt charts then you’re working off a canvas and you’re moving from that canvas and iterating, is that?

Richard Atherton:   Yeah, yeah it’s the right thing and so there is a couple of ideas that are central, one is this idea that changes a social movement or a virus, you could think of it. So your seeking to find the fire starters in your organization or the first movers in your organization where something has taken off and your seeking to amplify that experiment and where its having beneficial effects and of course where something is the way you’ve gotten an experiment which is taking off but is having affects counter at and your seeking to achieve then you might be looking to ways to dampen down that experiment but the whole day you do is your working with a movement and sometimes it might be US change agent actually testing to kick something off. So maybe you’re the first follower and supporting something that’s already happening or you might be the loaner as we describe it who actually attempts to ignite something in the organization as an experiment and then if it of course if it takes off then you seek to build a movement around that initiative. So it’s more organic and then you may be working within a direction or a frame set by senior leadership and that maybe some form of guide for the initiative but your also very much seeking to work with an experimental mindset.

Lisette:  Okay, man it sounds like the way to go in terms of an organization. Let’s dive into, I have so many questions that’s why I’m pausing but I want to dive into the remote worker’s aspect of this. How does lean change management defer when you’re co-located versus when you’re remote?

Richard Atherton:   So my experience is easier when you’re collocated.

Lisette:  Okay fair enough.

Richard Atherton:    Just because of where we are with organizations and technology and so on it’s not to say, we’ve had conversations before, I’m kind of warming to your idea that almost anything can be done remotely if you’ve got enough commitment and the right tech. I think however right now the reality is that working this way is a little tougher but certainly not impossible. So one of the… in terms of working visually and working with whiteboard and so on its now possible to work on online whiteboards and in fact I ran a webinar recently where we did culture hacking which is a particular type of experimenting within companies and we created a canvas where people post out their suggested hacks on this canvas and we voted on them. So there are ways and I personally I’m experimenting with working remotely this way but there is no doubt the moment it has some special challenges and in some way much harder in getting the right people in the workshop and working through.

Lisette:  Right so you’re saying it’s the technology that stands in the way and then what was the other one?

Richard Atherton:   So the technology stands in the way, I think there’s something about the level of commitment to work that even when people have the right tech its funny isn’t it, it’s still… 2018 it can still be a struggle to get people to turn their cameras on or to ask people to engage in the new piece of technology and preserve with it when they can’t log in or it doesn’t work or whatever it might be. So I think there is a tech which in some cases it does exist and then there is a resistance to changing how you work in order to engage in the tech yeah.

Lisette:  Yeah but I mean it does make sense I mean people are still using the old spider phones on the table and as we discussed in the interview, did with me Skype for business is very prevalent and it’s just a terrible tool overall. So yeah I can imagine that yeah tech gets in the way especially when one people don’t have the right tech and two when people don’t know how to use it and then yeah level of commitment. I mean people have to really want to make it happen and want to change and that’s probably a huge resistance, right like if you’re comfortable you don’t want to change, it’s when you’re uncomfortable that you want to change.

Richard Atherton:  The pain of changing is less than the pain of staying the same than the change.

Lisette:  Right, right so then how do you do it, what are your tips for helping people change when they’re a remote team, as a lean change management facilitator how would you do this?

Richard Atherton:  Well I mean you’d still apply the same principals, so the first thing is to test levels of commitment. So you want as much as possible work with the grain I mean where is the energy in the organization, what are people up for, where is there a natural energy to harness and work with and design experiments around? So I would always start there even with the remote team and there is no reason why you couldn’t use the right tech to do this kind of very quick and I mean this comes from very classy change management in terms of understanding people level of awareness, their knowledge, their commitment to a particular their skillset, so there are various ways to look at it in terms of going forward with a particular change and starting there and in fact Jason Little who wrote the book Lean Change Management initially trained me in some of these ideas and he works with teams now, he will do a very quick flash commitment test with a team and if they’re not ready he will walk away from the engagement, he’ll be like ‘I’ll come back in a year or I’ll come back in six months,’ and that takes something and that’s very different from a analyze it, plan it, do it mindset right.

Lisette:  So what makes a team not ready to change yet? Do you know what it is that makes them walk away and like how would you become ready to change?

Richard Atherton:  I think one of it and so one… I mean that’s why it’s complex and there may be many reasons but certainly one reason yeah the pain of staying the same is… if the pain of staying the same is less than the pain of changing then people will stay the same. So okay so how do you deal with that, so one of the things might be to start exposing and exploring, okay well where are your pain points, where are your frustrations, where is it potentially true that the pain of staying the same is actually higher than the pain of changing and work with that or it may be that people in their minds have a view that this change is going to be very painful or it might not be as painful as I think it is in which case how can you explore that and have people perceive or experience that change in a different way.

Lisette:  Is there a particular amount of time that it takes to change something? I mean I don’t have anything tangible that I can think of. I mean I don’t know what a lean change, do you have an example of like a lean change program that you’ve run that has taken x amount of time.

Richard Atherton:  Well in generally way longer than people expect, so I work in an agile space which lots of people are obviously initiating that right now in companies and so how do we become more agile as a company and initiating programs to achieve that and where I did that in one organization, it took us two to three years I would say to really start moving over to a new way of working across an entire organization. So I measure it in months and years and of course, it’s unpredictable, I mean who knows how quickly people are going to change? I mean it can I think in certain contexts it can happen much more quickly. So there’s a great book which some of the listeners might already be aware of Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet and in one year he goes from a particular culture in a submarine and completely flips the culture to the extent that this submarine was on top of the fleet in one year but in that scenario he got very contained, literally very contained space right. So he’s got as a lead here in that context he has an enormous amount of influence and obviously he had the deep skills and knowledge and commitment to work with the crew to change dozens of practices across all of the ways of working within that ship to the extent of the sum total of those changes was this complete transformation in that four months. So it’s certainly possible in that context to go much more quickly but I think in more than large highly interconnected organizations with very poorest boundaries it’s unlikely you’re going to see massive transformation say in one year say in like that example.

Lisette:  Right I can imagine I mean just getting alignment across an entire organization is already seemingly very impossible I mean just total alignment is very difficult but then getting an entire organization to change I mean that’s way different than just getting a team to change how they’re doing things I mean you’ve got to get alignment and change across an entire organization, how do you scale it?

Richard Atherton:  Right how do you scale it? Is a great question. So I think you have to find ways to allow a message to spread, I mean one of the ways which I don’t think you scale it is do a big planned scale upright, that’s one of the ways you don’t scale it. I think one of the ways you can scale it is to find pockets where there is a great deal of energy and momentum around changing and that particular team or unit is seeing great benefit and then asking how can we share this? How can we share these stories, how can we communicate progress across an organization, how can we let others see what’s going on here and then the other thing I would say is the killer of change in this context is dependency and I think one of the things that Spotify I know does very well is from my understanding on the work there is that they really look at dependency, so one team is dependent on another seen date, they’ve got a lot of attention on that and how can we break dependencies is something they ask a lot. So the greater the degree to which you can give teams autonomy gives you much greater latitude to have them change their processes and work differently but as long as they’re dependent on another team or another process or another system because it becomes much harder because that’s all tethered in some respects to the legacy culture. So working on that basis is really important and as a first step is how do we make this team more autonomous then we could think about how it might change.

Lisette:  Oh interesting, so what I’m reading or when I’m listening to this you know we talked about lean being empowering the workers to change themselves and to create the change, you’re trying to find the workers who are enthusiastic. You know the champions who really want to spread that enthusiasm throughout the organization, doesn’t that threaten management a bit like if you’re empowering the teams to make the changes themselves do you get pushback from management? Is that an issue?

Richard Atherton:  Yeah of course, of course, it’s very threatening to those who have heavily identified with that sense of control and see control of those teams as being necessary for the success of the organization. So when they are in that place then they see any attempt to loosen that control is potentially risking the organization and potentially risking their position. So where people in that mindset, of course, is very difficult and then the way to convince in my experience people in those positions is to show them results. So if their mindset tells them if we reduce the crackles we’re going to have problems and then you find the ways to reduce the crackles and see and taking performance or creativity or innovation or whatever it might be and that person becomes aware of that and then over time they might change their view and that comes back to where we started this conversation in terms of making work visible, so how do you make work publicly visible, how do you make progress publicly visible, how do you have stories told in public is one of the questions we ask a lot in lean change.

Lisette:  Is there a downside to making work visible?

Richard Atherton:  Yeah, so you invite ridicule so-

Lisette: Really?

Richard Atherton:  Public Canvases are one organization where I worked with them, we had graffiti over the canvases and abuse and I initiated putting this public canvas out and got a lot of heat and told Richard you must take a stand, we have to stop this, this is doing this and I said no let’s leave it up, there is an important process to go through, I said a [inaudible 24:07] process to have all of this pent out resentment expressed in some way and we got through it and eventually the graffiti stopped and people started engaging with a little bit more with the board and we kind of broke a dam in a sense, you know I felt like it was a watershed, we’re okay now, it’s okay to be public.

Lisette:  Wow.

Richard Atherton:  Now it’s okay to be public and then each of the activity that we then did in public was much more subsequent to that was much easier, so we then did public show intel’s which is where we engaged with the rest of the people in the organization and showed them working progress and this is where we’re at, its half-baked right now, give us your input, let’s get into dialogue around it but those, I don’t think those events would near as easy how do we note them the first, start with making the canvas properly.

Lisette:  I’m so shocked that there was graffiti on the canvas, I’m completely surprised by that, like can you say were they right on this?

Richard Atherton:  Yeah there was like… I don’t know if there were swear words there might have been but the thrust of it was this  bloody clones you know because we were consultants coming in and there was this sense of you know here we go again with more consultant and yeah just clearly that had really had negative experience in the past of changing this tips and I suppose just saw as well I don’t know exactly how they saw it but were perhaps very cynical and upset that we were maybe seen to be crowing about this new initiative where their experience was initiative like things were very bad and –

Lisette:  Right and actually it really shows the importance of you’ve got to let the steam out when stuff is bubbling under the surface there has to be a way for teams to express their resentment if they have it or their anger or whatever it is I’m sure.

Richard Atherton:  Yeah grief I mean sometimes, I’ve read about the retrospectives in Agile which is a… whoever is familiar with an Agile is this particular way of working developing software teams and the retrospective is where you get together periodically and discuss what’s going on well and what’s not going so well as a grief ceremony right. So I think it’s important you’re absolutely right that you create these places for grief in organizations especially when you’re going through a change process.

Lisette:  Yeah because otherwise I think stuff blows in weird ways at some point, I mean I know on the Happy Melly Team if there is stuff bubbling at some point if it’s not addressed weird stuff happens, like weird explosions, weird outbursts, somebody has not slept enough the night before and your just tired and your just done with it you know and you say something really rude and then off it goes and there is this sort of this weird thing that happens there.

Richard Atherton:  Yeah it’s like Happy Melly is good and so is sad Melly and so is angry Melly.

Lisette:  Right.

Richard Atherton:  Yeah it’s all-important.

Lisette:  Right, right we can’t all be happy, go lucky, go jovial all the time that’s not really how it works especially when you’re dealing with change. So what about some of the tools, I just want to… you know we’re running out of time a little bit here but you know I want to talk about some of the tools that you’ve used, you say that you’ve used online whiteboards-

Richard Atherton:  Yeah Wet White Board I used recently which is super easy, there’s no lock-in, you don’t need to sign out, you can just go in and start using it, it’s not as sophisticated as some of the other tools but it works.

Lisette:  Yeah great.

Richard Atherton:    There’s stuff that… I mean Trello I use a lot when… so that comes as well from lean in terms of visualizing the works and having a bought a can band board which users might be familiar with but that’s just a really simple board which has lists to do, doing and done but you can make that public for team and if you do that on Trello everybody wherever they are can engage with that and Google Docs I use a lot, so I’ve created online templates for the canvases that we use, everybody can edit those documents, that’s great when you are working in a hybrid. So what I found really effective is working in a hybrid onsite offline is that you can create the canvases that stay on a whiteboard, in person, transport it into a Google Doc and then people continue to iterate it and edit it afterward online from anywhere, so that’s another talk.

Lisette:  Yeah, do you use video a lot in your work in terms of getting people to see each other?

Richard Atherton:  Yeah so Hangouts and some Zoom and what we’re using now.

Lisette:  Yeah.

Richard Atherton:  All good so the video on yeah.

Lisette:  What do you think the hesitance is for people turning the video on?

Richard Atherton:  Vanity.

Lisette:   They don’t think they look good on video?

Richard Atherton:  I think that’s a big one isn’t it? Oh yeah.

Lisette:  I’m so used to it now I’m just over it, like I just don’t, I’m over it but you know I have a friend that I talk to twice a week on video and he is in Arizona and he hides himself, he cannot stand seeing himself on the video. So he’ll just hide his own video and then only see me. I never do that, I’m just I never even look at myself, I’m just so used to it. So okay so vanity, so people are-

Richard Atherton:  Yeah, yeah I think so and your right I think people hate seeing themselves and I used to have a friend who would go to pubs in England and he couldn’t be anywhere near a mirror and so if we went to a pub with a mirror we had to find a pub which didn’t have mirrors because he could not stand seeing himself in the mirror and so there are people who have that complex, whatever it is.

Lisette:  Yeah they should get some therapy for that I mean there are some ugly people in the world but nobody is that ugly but okay we all have our own things and we’re obsessed with. Okay, so what do you struggle with personally with helping teams, let’s keep it to the remove if possible? So what is your biggest struggle with that? Is it the tech or the level of commitment engaging people? What?

Richard Atherton:    Yeah, I think it’s getting so, yeah it’s getting people to commit, and it’s ultimately commitment isn’t it. Its commitment to a new way of working because you can quite often get half of the group to agree to do something online and then the other half is like and they won’t go through the pain sometimes to set the tech up, oh you know the firewall is blocking it, oh I couldn’t get the install or I need it… You know IT is a massive you know IT departments are the biggest blockers for stuff because they want to lock all these doors down and I’m sure for very legitimate reason but even they don’t seem to have the commitment often to find the work around that’s going to keep these doors safe and there are a number of times wherein the cooperate environments where you have to, you know I hate to admit it but you know your often having to dance around the cooperate  IT to set something up remotely and I feel like there are often the cooperate IT departments funny enough agile enough to accommodate these new tours as they come in the market and they don’t seem to come from a place of how come we make this safe and secure to people and let people use it? It seems to be of a question well does this meet our security requirements and are we going to be able to put it in the next bill six months away, so that can be the challenge often.

Lisette:  I see that a lot often myself and I understand from the perspective of the IT department like you have to keep things safe, like the data has to be safe, especially work with a lot of banks super important right I want my money to be safe I’m sure everybody else feels the same way, I don’t want my personal information out there but at the same time like this whole idea of having a global tool that everybody can use in the whole organization like Skype for business is just not going to, it just doesn’t work, every team kind of needs slightly different things depending on what they’re doing, this whole one tool fits all idea is not there anymore yeah we sort of moved away from that and I’m sure it’s a struggle for IT departments indeed. How do you dance around it, do you like break the rules a little and hope they don’t catch you or you push back, what’s your strategy?

Richard Atherton:  Well I think you sort of have to come from fist principal actually and say ‘well okay if I’m going to use a tool here what would it be that the IT department would be really uncomfortable with us putting onto this tool, so you know just a little bit of common sense like so we don’t want to put peoples salaries on this, we’re not going to put, you know often we just use first names you know we’re not going to put sir names on this, we’re not going to put anything that may relate to a personal record on this. We’re not going to put something here that’s you know, could be…could provide competitive advantages to somebody else and what may get close to being a trait. So it’s just asking common sense questions about what is the kind of data that is vulnerable and lets just make sure we don’t use any of that data and I can understand from an IT departments perspective that may make them feel very uncomfortable having people make the right judgments about what’s safe and what isn’t, like I completely get that but at the same time if you want to move forward and change organizations and help people expand the tools then you’ve got find a way right to have these experiments and to move forward, so that’s the dance either way I find myself in as the change agent is what’s the surgical line while asking the question.

Lisette:  Yeah, yeah, yeah where can you squeeze it in, where can you sort of like okay one team doing this, who all promises nor surnames and no public data and yeah that’s true because there has to be room for experimentation. I mean that’s part of like, that’s part of the ethos of lean change right, there has to be room for experimentation and your right the IT departments should be a part of that dance I would expect and from my experience I don’t know if you see it people find other solutions  outside the IT department. I mean if you not allowed to use Slack in your company people go to WhatsApp, like they’ll find the backchannel, they’re not going to use some clunky tool, I won’t name names but they’re not going to use some clunky tool when they can just get on WhatsApp and talk to their whole team really quickly and it doesn’t meet the IT protocols but it certainly makes a team productive.

Richard Atherton:  Right and even as I’m saying this I’m thinking yeah maybe  I should push much harder when I’m working this way with clients they get something from the security team on to the project.

Lisette:  It does help, I had one IT department person join a workshop that I was giving at a bank and it really helped because they had no idea the breadth of tools that are available now and of course why would they? That’s not their job, it’s not to research all the tools out there but their eyes were open to what’s available but I think a lot of people just don’t know its no. So we’re getting to the end of the time but I want to ask a couple more questions, one is advice for people who are just starting out, advice for people who are doing a lean change management program, where do you advise them to start well call you right as a facilitator you will help them through their change program but what should people be thinking about before they embark on this journey?

Richard Atherton:   I mean read a book if you’re interested in lean change, read the lean change management book.

Lisette:  By Jason Little?

Richard Atherton:  Yeah you can find that on, that’s an awesome place to start and then find like but I know it has almost become a little bit of a cliché but find your tribe is the first step. So don’t try and do it alone, you know if you’ve got some idea for the experiment and you’ve got some idea for somewhere you want to change your team or your organization wherever it might be, start with the first experiment ought to be will this thing, will x find me my first followers? So maybe it’s you host a coffee, maybe it’s you. you do a lunch time session where you invite people to come over and discuss this idea with you and once you can get two three four people with you, with a passion then work with them to try the first thing, the first experiment because so often I see people come out of workshops early and ‘I love this is great,’ and then you follow up a few months later and it is like well I couldn’t try it or I couldn’t get permission or I didn’t find an opportunity to do what I wanted to do. So that’s definitely my advice is-

Lisette: Find your tribe, find the other enthusiast in the organization because they are, they do exist, you just have to find them, there are other people out there that want to make things better just by nature because they’re curious, they’re passionate, they love what they do, they love the company, they love the vison whatever the reason, so I like that advice, it’s something that I tell organizations to, they want me to come in and train their whole organization which is great I’d love to do it but I always say, start with your champions and then let the enthusiasm move out because the champions are going to be the ones who are going to, yeah they are going to be the ones who, yeah they go over the hurdles even when it’s hard because they are excited whereas the other people the hurdles will stop them.

Richard Atherton:  Yeah and you might be surprised it turns up I mean sometimes people you put something out there public and say they come meet me at lunchtime for this topic and who knows who show up and so sometimes it can be from anywhere in the hierarchy that might surprise you where you might find support.

Lisette:  Interesting love it, so if people want to find more about this where do they go?

Richard Atherton:  Well for the lean change in general go to where you will find workshops across the glob, so they happen globally and if your interested in workshops I run then you can go to and you will see our upcoming events we’re now recording this in June and if it goes out you might just have time to squeeze yourself on the June workshop but we’ve got one more year, yeah those are the two places, for lots of the material if you’re interested in doing some kind of workshop in London.

Lisette:  So do you just do workshops in London or will you travel? So somebody from a warm exotic place with umbrella drinks invites you are you going to go?

Richard Atherton:  Yeah if it comes through sure.

Lisette:  Anybody from the Caribbean doing lean change, Hawaii, maybe Hawaii not so good right now but great. Well thanks for your time today, I think I took a tone of notes that hopefully I’ll be putting into the show notes for people and definitely for those who are watching take a look at the video to catch a glimpse of Richards amazing office, I have some work to do I think in my office after seeing yours and thanks, thanks for your time and for helping explain lean change management.

Richard Atherton: I loved it thanks, Lisette.

Lisette:  Alright.

Richard Atherton:  I get a postcard.

Lisette:  It’s fun, it is fun so you get to meet interesting people like you, that’s the best part, and alright everybody until next time be powerful.


Work Together Anywhere Workshop by Collaboration Superpowers


Download our guide to icebreakers for better meetings and events

Success! Check your inbox to download your virtual icebreakers!