Fire The Change Agents?

by Jay Deragon on 09/28/2012

Most organizations resist change agents for the sake of protecting the way things are.

Change agents are individuals who have the knowledge, skills and tools to help organizations create radical improvement. They achieve results through their keen ability to facilitate groups of people through well-defined processes to develop, organize, and sell new ideas. They are the invisible hands that turn vision into action.

Change agents are leaders in thought rather than position or authority. They use knowledge to lead change and inspire others to do the same. Change agents are known for having three traits  that are essential to creating lasting change.

  1. True change agents see a future no one else does, and that vision won’t let them rest. They don’t lead change because it “makes sense” or because change is “necessary.” They lead change because they believe the organization must get ahead of an approaching “discontinuity” in order to survive and thrive.
  2. Change agents have the courage to bet their careers or reputations. True change agents are willing to take bold action—and accept the consequences. They know that leading change can be messy, with few clear-cut answers about how events will play out. Yet, because of experience and knowledge, they have faith in people’s ability to engage and create meaningful and valuable change.
  3. Change agents have something about them that galvanizes teams and turns people on. Perhaps the biggest misconception about change agents is that they’re Lone Ranger types. In fact, the most effective change agents have a fervent core of supporters, cultivated through intensity and caring. No doubt, along the way, change agents have learned that change happens faster and deeper in organizations when people are emotionally engaged—and they have a knack for making that happen. In the end, you know a true change agent when you see others buy into a change effort that enables everyone within and outside the organization to fulfill a purpose.

A good change agent is fearless and will challenge the thinking of management and leadership.  Historically outside change agents have been consultants whose life span was predictably short. Today change agents are the collective crowd of people, customers, suppliers, media and employees whose life span is eternity because they’ll never go away or stop discussing your organizations need for change. Those discussions are transparent for everyone to see given the transparency of today’s web.

Previously management would simply fire the change agent(s) when their power and thinking were challenged . Today that would mean management would have to fire all the employees and their friends. Instead of firing change agents organizations ought to embrace and encourage them to be agents of change.

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