Last night Melbourne members of the Change Management Professionals met for drinks and discussion on the topic of Change Leaders and Change Agents. We were very fortunate to have the masterful facilitation skills on hand ofGrant Downie for the evening and of course appreciative of SHK’s patronage for venue, food and drinks.
Beyond the value of knowledge sharing on particular topics, we also get the value of the meta-knowledge – observing a skilled change facilitator facilitating us! Grant introduced the group to the practice working “in circle” and the benefits of this approach were clear in the flow of the conversations.
We started the evening in circle sharing our thoughts and stories of Change Leadership. This is a little difficult to report on as being “in circle” means without pen and paper and the conversations was so engrossing I struggled to capture it later! Suffice to say members shared their observations on the difference between leaders that understand change, and those who don’t, the awareness that as change agent or change manager our role is not to lead the change – that it must reside within the business, the need to resource leaders with messaging and business case for change.
We moved back to the board room to have a brainstorm on the skills and experience needed for change agents and share a relevant vignette. The results of the brainstorm are captured here:
As one participant observed though – there was nothing new in this list, they are all well established skills and attributes of change agents. What was interesting was the debates that emerged from brainstorming and the different perspectives.
- Can a change manager or agent be expected to be all of those things, or do you highlight how you can complement the leader, the project manager, or the client
- Do change agents seek to “crush” ambiguity or exploit the tensions that exist within ambiguity
- When looking at that list, are there meta competencies that represent importance or ranking of the skills
- If we are seeking complete and utter business fatigue with the language of change, what do we use?
This last point generated the quote of the night, where one member (correctly) observed as change agents within organisations “we become the Babel Fish “– referring to our need to be instant translators within organisations. Now who doesn’t love a gathering with a Hitch hikers Guide to the Universe reference!
This part of the evening also generated real desire for an evening that we focus on definitions – what defines a change manager, what is change management, what is the business case for change. They are topics we tackled a few years ago, but the frustrations associated with having to explain what we do remain constant so it is likely we will revisit.
We finished the evening in circle again on the question of use of change champions – in particular are they over used?
The discussion ranged around questions of are we confusing super users with change champions, are our Business Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) the right people to be change champions, and are we asking too much of them given the multiple change agendas ongoing in the organisations. Very few organisations have an enterprise view of change and so the potential for change champions to be hit up by multiple change requirements and create change fatigue.
Again, there were gems in the discussion – in particular, the role of change champion should be kept simple – to empower with knowledge, and to have them walk the talk, and the reminder that often as not there is some-one being overlooked who would love to be a change champion is asked.
We ended the night with the desire to meet every two months this year, and with Lauren Stone generously agreeing to be the facilitator of the next. If you wish to be included on the email list notifying of the next, and you are not currently on the list, do let me know. If you have stumbled on this post and want to know more about the group — here’s how it started and more on past write-ups.
Sydney & Brisbane, stay tuned – we are currently fixing a date to run the same topic with you too!