Change Leadership


Steven Dillard

Senior Manager,
Change Leadership

Altria Client Services

The focus of the Change Leadership team is to accelerate the adoption of working differently across the enterprise through agile project teams. These projects spread transformation - meaning how to work differently – across the organization. If you want a company to transform, you have to have more than half of those people working differently – a tipping point – where more people are working in the new way than the old way.

Why did we see a need to transform? Because the market Altria competes in has become increasingly disrupted and we believe we needed to adapt to compete successfully. When determining if a business problem warrants an agile project team, we ask if the problem can be solved without agile methodology. Is someone already working on it? Will this problem be solved whether or not we assist? If that’s the case, they likely don't need our infrastructure. We seek projects that are aligned with our initiatives, help us achieve our Vision or remove obstacles to achieving the Vision. I look for a clear opportunity/problem with no clear solution. That's how we attract the passionate volunteers. I often give this analogy: we want to get to the top of this mountain. We are standing at the bottom and no one knows how. Let’s form a team and let THEM figure it out!

Each project team has a sponsor, a team lead, and a very small team of diverse, passionate volunteers, and a coach who comes from the agile team. One of the biggest differences between this agile methodology and the old school way of working is the project coach walks alongside the team the entire time to constantly keep them working differently and not let them rubber band back into their old ways. It's really important to note the sponsor and team lead are different than managers. Agile methodology says the sponsor's primary goal is to champion the work of the team and remove obstacles. Team leads organize the work and keep the team passionate. The small passionate team is presented with the business problem and sets a crazy, audacious, seemingly impossible goal and gets after it the same day they set it. We recruit for these teams. We use our internal social platforms to advertise, draft and pull in talented team players. Each team ideally has about six to eight people, no more than 10, who want to do the work and are motivated to move mountains.

The most exciting part is watching people "get it" meaning they start to see the advantages of working differently. This way of working invites everyone to help solve the problem. It gives every single employee the opportunity to be involved in driving the business and helps individual contributors find their voice. It's exciting to witness people work who feel empowered to drive business change. That is the reward for the work I do.

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