I recently moved house, from the north island of Nz to the South. As you can imagine shifting everything you have, your cars and your dogs in this way is a little bit different from moving to another street in a big town. Everything changes, friends are a bit more distant, routines have to be redesigned and a whole way of life recreated. In the middle of all this I tweeted that I was in the midst of a big change in life but I couldn’t be a change agent if I couldn’t cope with it. A peer and colleague answered my tweet to say that they thought change agents did what they did because they didn’t like change and preferred to control it.
She got me thinking, whether said in humour or not. What if she was right and out there all the change agents in operation are change resistant coupled with a high need for control? So I thought I would ask as well as write this week and you can tell me about you and if I get enough responses you will get a blog back about the data.
But back to her view on change agents. My perspective has always been that to be able to lead change that impacts on others you should have been through change yourself, both poorly and well managed. That experience can be used to understand how people feel in the situation where their future is not in their control and what a good or bad boss can do to about that. An example I always give is that you can’t truly know how to make someone redundant unless you’ve been through it yourself. You can do some training, understand in theory, but your perspective is always intellectual. I think that’s why peers often give such poor advice during change (just as the happily single give to a divorcing friend) it’s all based on a ‘you will get over it’ mindset. Which is true but not that helpful on the day. So a change agent that hadn’t coped in adversity or dealt with being powerless?
And what about the aspect of needing to control? Now I do know that some people have a vision of the world and move heaven on earth to change it to that. But the successful tend to be those whose vision of the world has some leeway, An ability for others to engage in it, enrichen it and join in the co-creation. Successful change has always seemed like an epidemic that you can’t help catching rather than a cattle drive (albeit a well meaning one that will hopefully take us to a land of milk and honey that they will thank them for in the end).
As a change agent I’m open to another perspective though (or is that not a pre-requisite?) so tell me Changed or Changer? What does it take to be a change agent when it comes to control.
This Poll is just for fun so please don’t write to me and tell me I’m asking the wrong question the wrong way (If you do I will mark you down as a need to control anyway)