How good is it when you find a new ‘go to’ blog? Recently I stumbled onto “Once more unto the change’ (aka ‘Bring out your dead!). It’s the work of Joe Gergen. Joe’s based in the US and has worked in process re-engineering for fifteen years. I’m really loving it — it’s a great combination of humanity, humility, learning and change. I think the tricky thing for many of us who blog on business topics is mastering voice and writing style. Joe’s got that one in the bag — mainly because he *is* a writer. If you have time make your way over to his other non-business blog “Fortress of Dissolitude”
Anyway I asked Joe if he’d mind if I re-posted one of his pieces and the original is here, I’m pleased he said yes and said I could use this one. It was developed in collaboration with Megan O’Neal. Enjoy!
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a change agent?
The Secret in Secret Change Agent
Is a change agent a job or is it a role? Do we approach change management as a project or is a project endowed with change management?
A true secret change agent has a secret mission. Except that it’s not a secret. Anyone can manage a project that will change the organization. The change may be as small as verbiage on a letter template or as sweeping as shutting down a department. But without a secret mission, it’s just another disruption to the team members. The role of a secret change agent is to transform every project into something greater by becoming part of the team, by building trust with them so you can promote change from the inside. You are doing the project with them, not to them.
So what is your mission, should you choose to accept it?
The key difference between a Secret Change Agent and your run-of-the-mill process engineer is the mission. And the mission is to change the culture. It doesn’t need to start as radical change – we’re not talking “smash the state” kind of culture change. Think of it more along the lines of “gradual enlightenment”. With every problem identified, the organization has an opportunity to grow. Our reflex may be to slap a band-aid on the problem and desperately hope the blemish never shows its ugly face again. But the opportunity presented is one of learning. It’s not just about solving the problem, but rather about furthering a problem-solving culture.
I love it when a plan comes together
Every secret mission needs a good plan. Your job is to look at the project and the secret mission and figure out what lessons can be learned about problem-solving. It could be one simple process method. It could be a set of tools to use. It could be feedback loops. You could even be planting seeds for future learning. And as always assess the current capabilities and understanding of the team members. Your job is to set them up to succeed in the learning because that feels good, creates a sense of achievement that they’ll want to repeat.
So bring the people in
By involving the people who live the problem, hopefully the people who identified the problem in the first place, you are taking the first step toward an inclusive learning culture. People are always sensitive about projects and change so it’s your job to bring the right attitude. It’s your job to guide them not drag them. Take time to understand both the people and the process. Then make an effort to let them know you understand. They’ll appreciate that and you’ll build the trust necessary to move farther and farther ahead.
So what did you think? Enjoy it? Looks like I’ll need to update the 15 Change Management Blogs to follow …