Market change, economy change, technology change, workforce change, communication change, today change riddles stress cracks in organization foundations. Whether 80-year-old companies, Fortune 500 stalwarts, or new-technology dynamos, change is as much an on-going assault on organizations as rust is an ongoing assault on metal.
Change agents are your organization’s saviors.
Tomorrow’s relevance is seen through your change agent’s lead.
What is your organization’s relationship with change agents?
How you and your organization treat change agents reveals as much about a dedication to relevance as it does about your organization’s relationship to market reality.
Change agents seed organization with the thought-leadership and options for tomorrow’s relevance. At even greater impact change agents tend, weed, fertilize, and till the soil that produces market fruits.
Change agents, unfortunately, are also the ones with the figurative bulls-eye on their back.
It’s not the strongest species that survive, or the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change. [I can not find proof that Charles Darwin ever said this, so I won't quote him, though I will co-op it.]
Resilience Meets Speed of Change
Today the Internet and globalization constantly assault an organization’s business foundation. The speed of information demands people and organizations become resilient to change and resilience to bend is the key to buffet a constant wind of change against organization strategy.
The cost of staying the same is the cost your company’s foundation. Like a buildings foundation limits the height of a building. What are you assembling to limit the opportunity your change agents bring? Resistance limits growth.
Let’s start with how to recognize change agents around you? Change agents are the ones that say:
- “What about … “
- “I have seen … “
- “We could … if … “
- “Do you think … “
- “Talking at a recent event and … “
- “I was doing some research and perhaps … “
Proclamation alone is not the only way to uncover a change agent. You can spot change agents through their action? Change agents are the ones that:
- Design the communication strategy;
- Envision a new organization structure;
- Lead by example while others stand back;
- Scope options A, B, C, and D;
- Articulate the difference between a process and the promise;
- Revisit previous attempts with new insight based on new context;
- Find tools that shine a light on new options;
- Propose the unheard of;
- Stand behind intent when others abandon the challenge;
- Believe in the current talent for getting it accomplished;
- Ask ever harder questions, while others tap dance, more concerned with keeping up appearances;
- Don’t confuse polite with politics
Leaders create a compelling future-state. A place people can see themselves succeed. Leaders do not rule through title. A titled role does not entitle a fiat of organization compliance. The best lead through inclusion. The worst through exclusion. What roadblocks are you constructing against your change agents?
Controlling bosses and micromanagers are your competition’s strongest asset as they drive talent to regress to the mean. Worse, controlling bosses and micromanagers drive change agents to check out of conversations or to just leave the organization. Either way and your competition wins.
Unfortunately, petty leaders designate change agents as the problem. These type of leaders shift blame from themselves, to not want to change or these type of teams shift their role to not bother to understand.
What are you, as a team-mate, as a manager, as a member of a working group, doing to invite more change agents to speak up? If you are the person who says, ‘now wait a minute, who can add something on how that could work?’, you invite change.
However, if you are one of the first to roll your eyes or quick to offer another reason that it just won’t work than you feed antipathy and the politics over insight. Do you lead the blame game?
By the time you hit the ‘print’ button strategic plans are barely relevant. Stress cracks can’t form if the foundation can’t set. Today change is constant. People who can flex and remain resilient to what change demands are the real leaders in your organization:
- Change agents are leaders who bring new ways of thinking;
- Change agents are leaders who commit to on-going professional development to remain relevant;
- Change agents are leaders who are active in the quest for business trends across other sectors; and
- Change agents are leaders who develop insight from all conversation sources
Change agents do not fit the normal distribution of your organization. And that is a good thing. As any normal distribution analysis relies: it is the dispersion, or spread, around the mean, that really lends the most insight.
Change agents lead organization thought diversity, they lead diversity from 1 sigma, or further, away from the normal or the average. So, to increase variance, increase healthy conversations and a healthy environment for change agents.
Perhaps we need to think of change not simply event by event, but as a constant organization environmental factor; like salt water’s constant corrosive effect on metal. Change is not an event, but a siege and the strongest defense to the siege of change is the offense and leadership of a change agent.
Addendum: While mucking about on this blog, I found a blog post to share: An open letter to micromanagers