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Change Agents in the Change Management Process

One of the most fascinating components of the change management process is the change agent. The change agent, who can be a leader, manager, employee, consultant, or customer, is a person who is often at the center of the change management process and performs several critical functions in the overall process.

Discuss the following regarding change agents:

Define the concept of a change agent, including the traits and characteristics that best represent a change agent in today’s organization.

Discuss the role of a change agent in the change management process (e.g., formal or informal role, position of authority or power, etc.).

Assess how a change agent can influence the generation, direction, success, or failure of a change initiative.

Finally, assess any challenges a change agent may have in the change process (e.g., not agreeing with the change, management not truthfully sharing the repercussions of the change, etc.) and how these challenges should be addressed.

Organizational Change
Fourth Edition
This book is dedicated to Tupper Cawsey,
our dear and wonderful friend, colleague, and
extraordinary educator.
He passed away, but his positive impact continues to
reverberate in those he touched.
Thank you, Tupper.
Gene and Cynthia
Organizational Change
An Action-Oriented Toolkit
Fourth Edition
Gene Deszca
Wilfrid Laurier University
Cynthia Ingols
Simmons University
Tupper F. Cawsey
Wilfrid Laurier University
Los Angeles
New Delhi
Washington DC
SAGE Publications, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Deszca, Gene, author. | Ingols, Cynthia, author. | Cawsey, T. F., author/
Title: Organizational change : an action-oriented toolkit / Gene Deszca, Wilfrid
Laurier University, Canada, Cynthia Ingols – Simmons College, USA, Tupper F.
Cawsey – Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.
Other titles: Organisational change
Description: Fourth Edition. | Thousand Oaks : SAGE Publications, [2019] |
Revised edition of Organizational change, [2016] | Includes bibliographical
references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2019013498 | ISBN 9781544351407 (paperback)
Subjects: LCSH: Organizational change.
Classification: LCC HD58.8 .C39 2019 | DDC 658.4/06—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019013498
Acquisitions Editor: Maggie Stanley
Editorial Assistant: Janeane Calderon
Production Editor: Gagan Mahindra
Copy Editor: Lynne Curry
Typesetter: C&M Digitals (P) Ltd.
Proofreader: Rae-Ann Goodwin
Indexer: Mary Mortensen
Cover Designer: Candice Harman
Marketing Manager: Sarah Panella
Brief Contents
1. Preface
2. Acknowledgments
3. Chapter 1 • Changing Organizations in Our Complex World
4. Chapter 2 • How to Lead Organizational Change:
5. Chapter 3 • What to Change in an Organization: Frameworks
6. Chapter 4 • Building and Energizing the Need for Change
7. Chapter 5 • Navigating Change through Formal Structures
and Systems
8. Chapter 6 • Navigating Organizational Politics and Culture
9. Chapter 7 • Managing Recipients of Change and Influencing
Internal Stakeholders
10. Chapter 8 • Becoming a Master Change Agent
11. Chapter 9 • Action Planning and Implementation
12. Chapter 10 • Get and Use Data Throughout the Change
13. Chapter 11 • The Future of Organizations and the Future of
14. Notes
15. Index
16. About the Authors
Detailed Contents
Chapter 1 • Changing Organizations in Our Complex World
Defining Organizational Change
The Orientation of This Book
Environmental Forces Driving Change Today
The Implications of Worldwide Trends for Change
Four Types of Organizational Change
Planned Changes Don’t Always Produce the
Intended Results
Organizational Change Roles
Change Initiators
Change Implementers
Change Facilitators
Common Challenges for Managerial Roles
Change Recipients
The Requirements for Becoming a Successful Change
Key Terms
End-of-Chapter Exercises
Chapter 2 • How to Lead Organizational Change:
Differentiating How to Change from What to Change
The Processes of Organizational Change
(1) Stage Theory of Change: Lewin
Refreeze: or more appropriately Re-gell
(2) Stage Model of Organizational Change: Kotter
Kotter’s Eight-Stage Process
(3) Giving Voice to Values: Gentile
GVV and Organizational Change
(4) Emotional Transitions Through Change: Duck
Duck’s Five-Stage Change Curve
(5) Managing the Change Process: Beckhard and Harris
(6) The Change Path Model: Deszca and Ingols
Application of the Change Path Model
Awakening: Why Change?
Mobilization: Activating the Gap Analysis
Acceleration: Getting from Here to There
Institutionalization: Using Data to Help Make the
Change Stick
Key Terms
End-of-Chapter Exercises
➡ Case Study: “Not an Option to Even Consider:”
Contending With the Pressures to Compromise by
Heather Bodman and Cynthia Ingols
Chapter 3 • What to Change in an Organization: Frameworks
Open Systems Approach to Organizational Analysis
(1) Nadler and Tushman’s Congruence Model
History and Environment
The Transformation Process
The Formal Organization
The Informal Organization
An Example Using Nadler and Tushman’s
Congruence Model
Evaluating Nadler and Tushman’s Congruence
(2) Sterman’s Systems Dynamics Model
(3) Quinn’s Competing Values Model
(4) Greiner’s Model of Organizational Growth
(5) Stacey’s Complexity Theory
Key Terms
End-of-Chapter Exercises
➡ Case Study: Sarah’s Snacks by Paul Myers
Chapter 4 • Building and Energizing the Need for Change
Understanding the Need for Change
Seek Out and Make Sense of External Data
Seek Out and Make Sense of the Perspectives of
Seek Out and Make Sense of Internal Data
Seek Out and Assess Your Personal Concerns and
Assessing the Readiness for Change
Heightening Awareness of the Need for Change
Factors That Block People from Recognizing the
Need for Change
Developing a Powerful Vision for Change
The Difference Between an Organizational Vision and a
Change Vision
Examples of Visions for Change
IBM—Diversity 3.0
Tata’s Nano: From Vision to Failed Project
Change Vision for the “Survive to 5” Program
Change Vision for “Reading Rainbow”
Change Vision for a Large South African Winemaker
Change Vision for the Procurement System in a
Midsize Manufacturing Firm
Key Terms
A Checklist for Change: Creating the Readiness for
End-of-Chapter Exercises
âž¡ Case Study: Leading Change: The Pharmacy
Team by Jess Coppla
Chapter 5 • Navigating Change through Formal Structures
and Systems
Making Sense of Formal Structures and Systems
Impact of Uncertainty and Complexity on Formal
Structures and Systems
Formal Structures and Systems From an Information
Aligning Systems and Structures With the
Structural Changes to Handle Increased Uncertainty
Making Formal Structural Choices
Using Structures and Systems to Influence the Approval
and Implementation of Change
Using Formal Structures and Systems to Advance
Using Systems and Structures to Obtain Formal
Approval of a Change Project
Using Systems to Enhance the Prospects for
Ways to Approach the Approval Process
Aligning Strategically, Starting Small, and “Morphing”
The Interaction of Structures and Systems with Change
During Implementation
Using Structures and Systems to Facilitate the
Acceptance of Change
Key Terms
Checklist: Change Initiative Approval
End-of-Chapter Exercises
âž¡ Case Study: Beck Consulting Corporation by
Cynthia Ingols and Lisa Brem
Chapter 6 • Navigating Organizational Politics and Culture
Power Dynamics in Organizations
Individual Power
Departmental Power
Organizational Culture and Change
How to Analyze a Culture
Tips for Change Agents to Assess a Culture
Tools to Assess the Need for Change
Identifying the Organizational Dynamics at Play
Key Terms
Checklist: Stakeholder Analysis
End-of-Chapter Exercises
➡ Case Study: Patrick’s Problem by Stacy BlakeBeard
Chapter 7 • Managing Recipients of Change and Influencing
Internal Stakeholders
Stakeholders Respond Variably to Change Initiatives
Not Everyone Sees Change as Negative
Responding to Various Feelings in Stakeholders
Positive Feelings in Stakeholders: Channeling Their
Ambivalent Feelings in Stakeholders: They Can Be
Negative Reactions to Change by Stakeholders:
These Too Can Be Useful
Make the Change of the Psychological Contract Explicit
and Transparent
Predictable Stages in the Reaction to Change
Stakeholders’ Personalities Influence Their
Reactions to Change
Prior Experience Impacts a Person’s and
Organization’s Perspective on Change
Coworkers Influence Stakeholders’ Views
Feelings About Change Leaders Make a Difference
Integrity is One Antidote to Skepticism and Cynicism
Avoiding Coercion but Pushing Hard: The Sweet Spot?
Creating Consistent Signals from Systems and
Steps to Minimize the Negative Effects of Change
Two-Way Communication
Make Continuous Improvement the Norm
Encourage People to Be Change Agents and Avoid the
Recipient Trap
Key Terms
Checklist: How to Manage and Minimize Cynicism About
End-of-Chapter Exercises
âž¡ Case Study: Travelink Solutions by Noah Deszca
and Gene Deszca
Chapter 8 • Becoming a Master Change Agent
Factors That Influence Change Agent Success
The Interplay of Personal Attributes, Situation,
and Vision
Change Leaders and Their Essential
Developing into a Change Leader
Intention, Education, Self-Discipline, and
What Does Reflection Mean?
Developmental Stages of Change Leaders
Four Types of Change Leaders
Internal Consultants: Specialists in Change
External Consultants: Specialized, Paid Change
Provide Subject-Matter Expertise
Bring Fresh Perspectives from Ideas That Have
Worked Elsewhere
Provide Independent, Trustworthy Support
Limitations of External Consultants
Change Teams
Change from the Middle: Everyone Needs to Be a
Change Agent
Rules of Thumb for Change Agents
Key Terms
Checklist: Structuring Work in a Change Team
End-of-Chapter Exercises
âž¡ Case Study: Master Change Agent:
Katherine Gottlieb, Southcentral Foundation by
Erin E. Sullivan
Chapter 9 • Action Planning and Implementation
Without a “Do It” Orientation, Things Won’t Happen
Prelude to Action: Selecting the Correct Path
Plan the Work
Engage Others in Action Planning
Ensure Alignment in Your Action Planning
Action Planning Tools
1. To-Do Lists
2. Responsibility Charting
3. Contingency Planning
4. Flow Charting
5. Design Thinking
6. Surveys and Survey Feedback
7. Project Planning and Critical Path Methods
8. Tools to Assess Forces That Affect Outcomes
and Stakeholders
9. Leverage Analysis
10. Employee Training and Development
11. Diverse Change Approaches
Working the Plan Ethically and Adaptively
Developing a Communication Plan
Timing and Focus of Communications
Key Principles in Communicating for Change
Influence Strategies
Transition Management
Key Terms
End-of-Chapter Exercises
âž¡ Case Study: Turning Around Cote
Construction Company by Cynthia Ingols, Gene
Deszca, and Tupper F. Cawsey
Chapter 10 • Get and Use Data Throughout the Change
Selecting and Deploying Measures
1. Focus on Key Factors
2. Use Measures That Lead to Challenging but
Achievable Goals
3. Use Measures and Controls That Are
Perceived as Fair and Appropriate
4. Avoid Sending Mixed Signals
5. Ensure Accurate Data
6. Match the Precision of the Measure With the
Ability to Measure
Measurement Systems and Change Management
Data Used as Guides During Design and Early
Stages of the Change Project
Data Used as Guides in the Middle of the
Change Project
Data Used as Guides Toward the End of the
Change Project
Other Measurement Tools
Strategy Maps
The Balanced Scorecard
Risk Exposure Calculator
The DICE Model
Key Terms
Checklist: Creating a Balanced Scorecard
End-of-Chapter Exercises
âž¡ Case Study: Omada Health: Making the
Case for Digital Health by Erin E. Sullivan and
Jessica L. Alpert
Chapter 11 • The Future of Organizations and the Future
of Change
Putting the Change Path Model into Practice
Future Organizations and Their Impact
Becoming an Organizational Change Agent:
Specialists and Generalists
Paradoxes in Organizational Change
Orienting Yourself to Organizational Change
End-of-Chapter Exercises
About the Authors
Preface to the Fourth Edition
Difficult to see. Always in motion
is the future.1
1 Spoken by Yoda in the movie The Empire Strikes Back
The world has continued to churn in very challenging ways since
the publishing of the third edition of this text. Uneven and shifting
global patterns of growth, stubbornly high unemployment levels in
many parts of the world, increasing income inequality, and serious
trade disputes that threaten to transform trade patterns are
severely stressing our highly interconnected global economy. The
massive credit crisis of a decade ago was followed by
unprecedented worldwide government stimulus spending and low
interest rates to promote growth, which, in turn, have resulted in
escalating public debt, exacerbated in some nations through tax
cuts. These combine to threaten the capacity of national
governments to respond to future economic difficulties.
In addition, wars, insurrections and civil insurrections in parts of
Africa, the Ukraine, the Middle East, and Asia have sent masses
of people searching for safety in new places. Simultaneously,
deteriorating international relationships involving major powers,
fears of global pandemics (Ebola and MERS), and the staying
power of radical Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS
affiliates, Boko Haram and Jemaah Islamiyah have shaken all
organizations in affected regions—big or small, public or private.
Escalating concerns related to global warming, species
extinctions, and rising sea levels are stressing those who
recognize the problems in governments and organizations of all
shapes and sizes, as they attempt to figure out how to
constructively address these emerging realities. Add to these
elements the accelerating pace of technological change and it’s
easy to see why we, at times, feel overwhelmed by the
turbulence, uncertainty, and negative prognosis that seem to
define the present.
But, all is not doom and gloom. Progress on human rights and
gender equity, reductions in extreme poverty and hunger,
declining rates of murder and violent crime, improving rates of
literacy and life expectancy, and increasing access to information
and knowledge through affordable digital resources provide
evidence that progress is being made on some fronts. The
growing public willingness to tackle very difficult environmental
and social issues now, not later, are combining with innovative
technologies, creative for-profit and not-for-profit organizations,
and forward-thinking politicians and leaders from all walks of life.
Supportive public policies are combining with public and private
initiatives to demonstrate that we can make serious progress on
these issues, if we collectively choose to act in constructive and
thoughtful manners locally, regionally, and globally. These factors
have also made us, your authors, much more aware of the
extreme influence of the external environment on the internal
workings of all organizations.
As we point out in our book, the smallest of firms needs to adapt
when new competitive realities and opportunities surface. Even
the largest and most successful of firms have to learn how to
adapt when disruptive technologies or rapid social, economic,
political and environmental changes alter their realities. If they fail
to do so, they will falter and potentially fail.
Our models have always included and often started with events
external to organizations. We have always argued that change
leaders need to scan their environments and be aware of trends
and crises in those environments. The events of the past two
years have reinforced even more our sense of this. Managers
must be sensitive to what happens around them, know how to
make sense of this, and then have the skills and abilities that will
allow them to both react effectively to the internal and external
challenges and remain constant in their visions and dreams of
how to make their organizations and the world a better place to
A corollary of this is that organizations need a response capability
that is unprecedented because we’re playing on a global stage of
increasing complexity and uncertainty. If you are a bank, you need
a capital ratio that would have been unprecedented a few years
ago, and you need to be working hard to understand the potential
implications of blockchain technologies, regulatory changes, and
changing consumer preferences on the future of banking. If you
are a major organization, you need to design flexibility and
adaptability into your structures, policies, and plans. If you are a
public-sector organization, you need to be sensitive to how
capricious granting agencies or funders will be when revenues dry
up. In today’s world, organizational resilience, adaptability, and
agility gain new prominence.
Further, we are challenged with a continuing reality that change is
endemic. All managers need to be change managers. All good
managers are change leaders. The management job involves
creating, anticipating, encouraging, engaging others, and
responding positively to change. This has been a theme of this
book that continues. Change management is for everyone.
Change management emerges from the bottom and middle of the
organization as much as from the top. It will be those key leaders
who are embedded in the organization who will enable the needed
adaptation of the organization to its environment. Managers of all
stripes need to be key change leaders.
In addition to the above, we have used feedback on the third
edition to strengthen the pragmatic orientation that we had
developed. The major themes of action orientation, analysis tied
with doing, the management of a nonlinear world, and the bridging
of the “knowing–doing” gap continue to be central themes. At the
same time, we have tried to shift to a more user friendly, action
perspective. To make the material more accessible to a diversity
of readers, some theoretical material has been altered, some of
our models have been clarified and simplified, and some of our
language and formatting has been modified.
As we stated in the preface to the first edition, our motivation for
this book was to fill a gap we saw in the marketplace. Our
challenge was to develop a book that not only gave prescriptive
advice, “how-to-do-it lists,” but one that also provided up-to-date
theory without getting sidetracked by academic theoretical
complexities. We hope that we have captured the management
experience with change so that our manuscript assists all those
who must deal with change, not just senior executives or
organization development specialists. Although there is much in
this book for the senior executive and organizational development
specialist, our intent was to create a book that would be valuable
to a broad cross section of the workforce.
Our personal beliefs form the basis for the book. Even as
academics, we have a bias for action. We believe that “doing is
healthy.” Taking action creates influence and demands responses
from others. While we believe in the need for excellent analysis,
we know that action itself provides opportunities for feedback and
learning that can improve the action. Finally, we have a strong
belief in the worth of people. In particular, we believe that one of
the greatest sources of improvement is the untapped potential to
be found in the people of all organizations.
We recognize that this book is not an easy read. It is not meant to
be. It is meant as a serious text for those involved in change—that
is, all managers! We hope you find it a book that you will want to
keep and pull from your shelf in the years ahead, when you need
to lead change and you want help thinking it through.
Your authors,
Gene, Cynthia, and Tupper
Note on Instructor Teaching Site
A password-protected instructor’s manual is available at
study.sagepub.com/cawsey to help instructors plan and teach
their courses. These resources have been designed to help
instructors make the classes as practical and interesting as
possible for students.
PowerPoint Slides capture key concepts and terms for each
chapter for use in lectures and review.
A Test Bank includes multiple-choice, short-answer, and essay
exam questions for each chapter.
Video Resources for each chapter help launch class discussion.
Sample Syllabi, Assignments, and Chapter Exercises as optional
supplements to course curriculum.
Case Studies and teaching notes for each chapter facilitate
application of concepts in real world situations.
We would like to acknowledge the many people who have helped
to make this edition of the book possible. Our colleagues and
students and their reactions to the ideas and materials continue to
be a source of inspiration.
Cynthia would like to thank her colleagues at the School of
Business, Simmons University, Boston, Massachusetts. In
particular, she would like to thank Dr. Stacy Blake-Beard, Deloitte
Ellen Gabriel Chair of Women and Leadership, and Dr. Paul
Myers, senior lecturer, who each contributed a case to this fourth
edition of the book. In addition, Paul graciously read and gave
feedback on other cases and parts of the text, suggesting ways to
bring clarity to sometimes muddled meanings. Alissa Scheibert, a
Simmons library science student, conducted in-depth research for
a number of chapters. Dr. Erin Sullivan, research director, and
Jessica L. Alpert, researcher, Center for Primary Care, Harvard
Medical School, contributed two cases to this edition of the book
and I am very grateful for their contributions. Jess Coppla, a
former Healthcare MBA student leader and author of one of the
cases, will someday be CEO of a healthcare organization. . . . I’m
just waiting to see which one. Colleagues Gary Gaumer, Cathy
Robbins, Bob Coulum, Todd Hermann, Mindy Nitkin, and Mary
Shapiro were wonderful cheerleaders throughout the many hours
of my sitting, writing, and revising in my office: thank you all!
Managers, executives, and front-line employees that we have
known have provided insights, case examples, and applications
while keeping us focused on what is useful and relevant. Ellen
Zane, former CEO of Tufts Medical Center, Boston, is an inspiring
change leader; her turnaround story at the Tufts Medical Center
appeared in the second edition of this book and was published
again in the third edition; it continues to be on the Sage website
for use by faculty. Cynthia has also been fortunate to work with
and learn from Gretchen Fox, founder and former CEO, FOX
RPM: the story of how she changed her small firm appeared in the
second edition of the book and the case continues to be available
through Harvard Business Publishing (http://hbr.org/product/foxrelocation-management-corp/an/NA0096-PDF-ENG). Noah
Deszca, a high school teacher, was the prime author of the
Travelink Solutions case, an organization that underwent
significant changes while he was working there. Katharine
Bambrick, a former student of Gene’s and the CEO of the Ontario
Trillium Foundation and the former CEO of Food Banks Canada,
is another of the inspiring leaders who opened their organizations
to us and allowed us to learn from their experiences, and share it
with you. The Food Banks case appeared in the third edition of
this book and is one of the additional cases that are available on
this book’s website.
Special thanks to Paige Tobie for all her hard work on the
instructors’ resources. She is a gem to work with.
As with the previous editions, our partners Bertha Welzel and
Steve Spitz tolerated our moods, our myopia to other things that
needed doing, and the early mornings and late nights spent on the
manuscript. They helped us work our way through ideas and
sections that were problematic, and they kept us smiling and
grounded when frustration mounted.
Our editors at Sage have been excellent. They moved the project
along and made a difficult process fun (well, most of the time).
Thank you, Maggie Stanley, our acquisitions editor, for keeping us
on task and on time (or trying to keep us on time…). We
appreciate your style of gentle nudges. Thank you to Janeane
Calderon, our editorial assistant who was constantly on top of the
various parts of the book and helped us push through to the end.
Copyeditor Lynne Curry found stray commas and inconsistencies
throughout the book: thank you for fixing the problems. Gagan
Mahindra, Production Editor, kept us wonderfully focused on the
details of production: thank you!
Finally, we would like to recognize the reviewers who provided us
with valuable feedback on the third edition. Their constructive,
positive feedback and their excellent suggestions were valued.
We thought carefully about how to incorporate their suggestions
into this fourth edition of the book. Thank you Mulugeta Agonafer
of Springfield College, Brenda C. Barnes of Allen College, C.
Darren Brooks of Florida State University, Robert Dibie of Indiana
University Kokomo, Jonathan E. Downs of MidAmerica Nazarene
University, Alexander C. Heckman of Franklin University, Scott
Elmes McIntyre of University of Houston – Clear Lake, Frank
Novakowski of Davenport University, Pamela R. Van Dyke of
Southern Methodist University, Jack Wilson of the United States
Naval Academy, and Diana J. Wong-MingJi of Eastern Michigan
In short, our thanks to all who made this book possible.
Chapter Eight Becoming a Master
Change Agent
Chapter Overview
The success of a change agent involves knowing your
strengths and weaknesses and how these interplay among the
team, the situation, and a vision.
Successful change agents have a set of skills and personal
characteristics: interpersonal, communication, and political
skills; emotional resilience and tolerance for ambiguity and
ethical conflicts; persistence, pragmatism, and dissatisfaction
with the status quo; and openness to information, flexibility, and
adaptability. They act in a manner likely to build trust. Change
agents develop their skills with experiences in changing
This chapter describes four change agent types: Emotional
Champion, Developmental Strategist, Intuitive Adapter, and
Continuous Improver. Each has a different preference for his or
her method of persuasion (vision versus analytical) and
orientation to change (strategic versus incremental).
This chapter considers different change roles: an internal
change agent, an external consultant, and a member of a
change team.
This chapter examines what makes a change agent. It looks at
change agents’ individual characteristics and how these interact
with a situation and vision to determine change agent
effectiveness. We contrast change managers from leaders and
examine how change leaders develop. Four types of change
leaders are identified: Emotional Champion, Developmental
Strategist (particularly important for a transformational change),
Intuitive Adapter, and Continuous Improver. We examine the skills
of internal change agents, the roles of the external change agents,
and the usefulness of change teams. The chapter ends with rules
of thumb for change agents from the wisdom of organizational
development and change agent experts. Figure 8.1 highlights this
chapter’s place in the Change Path.
The role of change agent is a double-edged sword. While it can
prove exciting, educational, enriching, and career enhancing, it
can also be hazardous to your career, frustrating, and
demoralizing when risks escalate and failure looms. In general,
people who become change agents will improve their
understanding of organizations, develop special skills, and
increase their networks of contacts and visibility in the
organization.1 Those who choose not to respond to the challenge
of leading change, on the other hand, run the risk of becoming
less central and relevant to the operation of their organizations.
When changes fail, there is the sense that the change agent’s
career has ended. However, this is seldom the case. While failure
experiences are painful, change agents are resilient. For example,
when Jacques Nasser left his CEO position at Ford in 2001, many
thought he was a spent force. However, about a year after leaving
Ford, he took over as chairman of Polaroid after it was acquired
by One Equity Partners in a bankruptcy auction. In 2½ years,
Nasser turned it around and its resale resulted in a $250 million
gain for One Equity.2 In August 2009, Nasser again hit the
business press news when he was nominated chairman of BHP
Billiton, the world’s largest mining company; he took office in
March, 2010.3 Nasser served in that role until 2017. Although
CEO Nasser instituted a number of controversial—some would
even say unsuccessful—changes at Ford, he also acquired skills
and personal attributes that have served him well since he left
Ford in 2001.
Many individuals find it difficult to identify where and how they fit
into the change process. They believe that they cannot ignite
change with their low- or mid-level roles and titles, and minimal
experiences in organizations. Years of autocratic or risk-averse
bosses and top-down organizational cultures make it hard to
believe that this time the organization wants change and
innovation. Critics of present-day educational systems have
suggested that schools encourage dependent rather than changeagent thinking. If teachers and professors see the students’ role
as absorbing and applying within prescribed boundaries rather
than raising troubling questions, independent and innovative
thinking will not be advanced.
In the turbulent years that have defined the first couple of decades
of the 21st century, however, individuals find themselves living in
organizations that challenge them to take up one of the roles of
change agency: initiator, implementer, facilitator, and/or task force
team member. Leaders in organizations are asking people to step
forward and make a difference. While the specific role will vary
over time and context, moving to a more active role is critical.
Simply providing information or offering armchair solutions seldom
produces meaningful change. To disrupt inertia and drift, some
individuals must move from an observer status to active change
agent. Those who want to advance their careers and add value to
their organizations will challenge themselves to take on change
leadership roles.
For many, their implicit model of change assumes that they must
have the involvement and support of the CEO or some other
senior sponsor before they can create meaningful change. There
is no question that if a change initiative has the commitment and
budget of a senior change champion, the job is immeasurably
easier. However, for many individuals acting from subordinate
organizational roles (e.g., technical professionals, first-line and
middle managers, frontline staff), the changes they want to
promote require them to question existing systems and
processes, with little top-level, visible support when they begin.
In Leading the Revolution, Hamel argues that every “company
needs a band of insurrectionists” who challenge and break the
rules and take risks.4 One teacher provides an example.
Reflections on a Teacher
The teacher that influenced me the most was concerned with our
learning and not with the power and influence of the administration.
For example, when Catcher in the Rye was deemed unfit for our
youthful eyes, he informed the class that this book was classed as
unsuitable. This teacher reported that the book by J. D. Salinger
should be avoided and while it was recognizable because of its red
cover with yellow print and found in most bookstores, libraries, and
magazine stores, we should not seek it out. Later, the same teacher
was instructed to black out certain risqué phrases from one of the
assigned books for class. Of course, he marched into the class,
described that the phrases on p. 138, lines 7 and 8, that were to be
blacked out and that he was enlisting the class’s help to do the work
for him.
Anonymous caller, CBC Radio, January 2004.
Testing orthodoxies will become critical in the drive to keep pace
with environmental demands.5 The individuals wanting to remove
student exposure to the perceived immorality in the books likely
thought they were change agents as well. However, by doing so,
they were limiting student access to information and the
opportunity to think about common realities. For the teacher in the
example, this was viewed as violating the prime purposes of a
school system—educating the students and instilling a desire for
learning. It drove him to action.
With the ever-increasing need for innovation and change in
organizations, there is the recognition that change management is
an essential part of every good manager’s skill set.6 Change
agency has shifted from notions of “lone ranger,” top-down heroic
leadership to ones involving leaders who enable change teams
and empower workers to envision change and make it happen.7
As Jick points out, “implementing their own changes as well as
While we might think that change is led from the top, Jick and
others dispute this. “Most well-known change initiatives (that are)
perceived as being “top-down” or led by a senior executive or the
CEO, probably started at the bottom or the middle, years earlier.”9
As Rosabeth Moss Kanter states, real change is for the long haul.
It “requires people to adjust their behavior and that behavior is
often beyond the direct control of top management.”10 Bold
strokes taken by top management likely do not build the long-term
capabilities of the organization unless they are buttressed by a
concerted commitment to an underlying vision. Bold strokes can
reduce, reorganize, and merge organizations, but each of these
takes a toll on the organization. Unfortunately, the long-term
benefits can prove to be illusory if the initiative fails to sustainably
embrace the hearts as well as the heads of organizational
members in ways that generate internal and external
environmental congruence.
Figure 8.1 The Change Path Model
Factors That Influence Change
Agent Success
The Interplay of Personal Attributes, Situation,
and Vision
Images of organizational change agents often revolve around
personalities that appear to be bigger than life: Jack Welch,
former CEO of GE; Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft; and Meg
Whitman, former CEO of eBay and HP. If such grand standards
are the benchmarks employed to assess personal qualities and
potential as a change agent, most people will inevitably fall far
short of the mark.
However, history suggests that leading change is about more than
just the person. In the 1930s, Winston Churchill was a politician in
decline. When World War II began, suddenly his skills and
personality matched what was needed, and the British public
believed he was uniquely qualified to be prime minister. Churchill
did not change who he was, but the situation changed
dramatically and, as prime minister, Churchill projected a vision of
victory and took actions that changed history and his reputation.
This match of person and situation is further highlighted by the
fact that Churchill experienced electoral defeat in the postwar
environment despite his enormous popularity during the war.
In other words, it was the person and it was more than the person.
Change agent effectiveness was a function of the situation, the
vision the person had, and the actions he took. A robust model for
change considers the interaction between personality, vision, and
situation. Michael J. Fox exemplifies a person who became a
change agent extraordinaire in the fight against Parkinson’s
Michael J. Fox Becomes a Change Agent
Most people get Parkinson’s disease late in life. Michael J. Fox, a
television and movie star, contracted it when he was 29 years old.
Before his disease, Fox was focused on his career, but he has since
refocused his energies. By 2000, Fox was a major player in funding
research into analyzing and curing Parkinson’s. Fox created the
Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), which has become an
exceptionally effective organization in fundraising and in shaping the
research agenda for Parkinson’s disease.11 In August 2018, Variety
magazine named Fox as their “Philanthropist of the Year” for his
commitment to mobilizing patients and research to bring an end to
Parkinson’s disease.
Fox’s basic personality didn’t change with the onset of
Parkinson’s. But suddenly he was faced with a situation that
generated a sense of purpose and vision that both transcended
his self-interest and captured the attention and emotions of others.
This powerful vision was crucial to Fox’s transformation from
movie star to change agent. He deployed his energy,
interpersonal skills, creativity, and decision-making abilities to
pursue this vision. His contacts, profile, and reputation gave him
access to an influential board of directors. In record time, he
recruited a key executive director and created a foundation that
became a funding force. Most important, he chose to act. He
articulated values that resonated with key stakeholders and raised
awareness and interest through his strategies and tactics. The
ability to create alignment among stakeholders on values has
been shown to be valuable in reducing resistance and advancing
change.12 His is far from an isolated incident. From Paul
Newman’s social entrepreneurship and philanthropy with salad
dressing13 to Andrea Ivory’s initiative to bring early breast cancer
detection to uninsured women in Florida,* individuals from all
walks of life are choosing not to accept the status quo and are
making a difference.
* CNN’s Heroes Project seeks to inspire people to take action by
annually recognizing the change initiatives of everyday people in
their communities and celebrating the impact they are having.
Their initiatives are highlighted on
In the above cases, the interaction of the person, situation, and
powerful vision transformed a person into a change agent. This
can be summarized in the following equation:
Being a Change Agent = Person × Vision × Situation
Situations play a crucial part in this three-way interchange. Some
situations invigorate and energize the change agent. Enthusiasm
builds as coalitions form and the proposed change gains
momentum and seems likely to succeed. Other situations suck
energy out of the change agent and seem to lead to a neverending series of meetings, obstacles, and issues that prevent a
sense of progress. Borrowing from the language of chemical
reactions, Dickout calls the former situations exothermic change
situations. Here energy is liberated by actions.14 Conversely, the
latter situations he calls endothermic. Here the change program
consumes energy and arouses opposition—which in turn requires
more energy from the change agent.
Change agents need exothermic situations that “liberate the
energy to drive the change.”15 However, they will experience both
exothermic and endothermic periods in a change process. Initial
excitement and discovery are followed by snail-paced progress,
setbacks, dead ends, and perhaps a small victory. The question is
how do agents develop the staying power and the ability to
manage their energy flows and reserves during this ultramarathon? What type of team do they need and have to help
replenish their energy and keep them going? Colleagues who
serve as close confidantes can play an important role in
sustaining energy. They can help to keep things in perspective,
enabling the change leader to face challenges and pitfalls. While
action taking is the defining visible characteristic of change,
discussion and reflection play important and often undervalued
roles in the development and maintenance of change leaders.16
Reflection as a critical practice of change leaders is discussed
later in this chapter.
Change Leaders and Their Essential
An examination of the literature on the personal characteristics of
change leaders yields a daunting list of personal attributes ranging
from emotional intelligence to general intelligence, determination,
openness to experience, and so forth.17 Textbook treatments of
leadership provide lists of the traits and behaviors that prove
difficult to reconcile. While most of the literature is inconclusive
about attributes that matter and can be generalized, six stand out
as particularly relevant for change leaders.
1. Commitment to Improvement
The essential characteristic of change leaders is that they are
people who seek opportunities to take action in order to bring
about improvement. They possess restlessness with the way
things are currently done, inquisitive minds as to what alternatives
are possible, and the desire to take informed risks to make things
better. Katzenbach argues that change leaders are significantly
different in their orientation from traditional managers.18 For
Katzenbach, the basic mindset of a “real change leader” is
someone who does it, fixes it, tries it, changes it, and does it again
—a trial-and-error approach rather than an attempt to optimize
and get it perfect the first time.
2. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Doyle talks about potential change agents and argues that they
need sophisticated levels of interpersonal and communication
skills to be effective.19 He describes change agents as requiring
emotional resilience, tolerance for ethical conflicts and
ambiguities, and they need to be politically savvy. Conflict goes
with the territory when stakeholders believe the changes will
negatively impact them, and researchers have noted the
importance of conflict-facilitation skills in change agents, including
skills related to constructive confrontation and the development of
new agreements through dialogue and negotiation.20 Barack
Obama’s soaring oratorical skills allowed him to speak directly to
the American people and bypass much of the Washington
establishment when he was pushing for changes to the American
health system in 2009. This set the stage for the difficult
discussions, negotiations, and tactical maneuvers that followed
and resulted in new health care legislation in March 2010. By
2016 –2018 the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was back on
the agenda for the U.S. Congress. Because of the diversity of
perspectives about healthcare in the United States and because
of the fragmentation of the U.S. healthcare system, it is likely that
there will be continuing debates in Congress on this policy area.
Kramer maintains that political awareness about what needs to be
done may lead, in certain situations, to abrasive, confronting,
intimidating behavior (yes, Kramer said this before the national
elections in the United States in 2016).21 Such challenging
behavior may be what is needed to “unfreeze” a complacent
organization. Stories of Churchill’s arrogant behavior, for example,
which was appropriate in wartime, cost him the prime ministry in
the postwar election.
The communication and interpersonal skills needed to navigate
the political environment and awaken the organization to needed
action receive a lot of attention. However, this more muscular
image of the transformational communications skill of change
leaders is but a subset of the range of approaches they may
deploy. Not all change leaders have a gift for rhetoric, and many
are not charismatic in the traditional sense of the term.* In his
book From Good to Great, Jim Collins22 explores the skill sets of
change leaders who successfully transformed their average
organizations into great ones. He highlights the quiet, humble,
grounded, and committed way in which many of these change
leaders interacted with others on a day-to-day basis and the
influence this had on the outcomes their organizations were able
to achieve. Their positive energy was clearly visible, and
frustration didn’t give rise to the communication of cynicism that
can taint the perspectives of others and derail a change.23
* Charisma is defined as a trait found in persons whose
personalities are characterized by a personal charm and
magnetism/attractiveness along with innate and powerfully
sophisticated abilities of interpersonal communication and
persuasion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charisma).
McCall and Lombardo identified a number of other characteristics
that derail change leaders when they are communicated to others:
being cold and aloof, lacking in critical skills, displaying
insensitivity to others, being arrogant, being burned out, lacking
trustworthiness, and being overly ambitious from a personal
perspective.24 When Malcolm Higgs looked at the question of bad
leadership, he identified four recurring themes: abuse of power,
inflicting damage on others, over-exercise of control to satisfy
personal needs, and rule breaking to serve the individual’s own
purposes. He saw these actions as caused by narcissism in the
leader—a view of oneself as superior, entitled, and central to all
that happens.25
3. Determination
Change agents need a dogged determination to succeed in the
face of significant odds and the resilience to respond to setbacks
in a reasoned and appropriate manner. After all, in the middle of
change, everything can look like a failure. Change agents need to
be able to persist when it looks like things have gone wrong and
success appears unlikely.
4. Eyes on the Prize and Flexibility
Change agents also need to focus on the practical aspect of
“getting it done.” They must have a constant focus on the change
vision, inspiring and keeping others aligned with the change goal.
Change agents must keep their eyes on the prize to avoid getting
bogged down in day-to-day stresses and abandoning the change
vision. At the same time, they must be ready to take informed
risks, modify their plans to pursue new options, or divert their
energies to different avenues as the change landscape shifts—
sometimes because of their actions, sometimes because of the
actions of others, or sometimes because of shifts in the
environment. Doggedness is balanced by flexibility and
adaptability, and impatience is balanced by patience. Time for
dialogue and reflection on the change process is needed to give
perspective and make informed judgments.26 Change agents
must reflect this delicate balance of being driven by the change
vision, but not so much that they are unwilling to make
modifications to the process as the environment inevitably shifts
along the way.
5. Experience and Networks
Given their desire to make things happen, it is not surprising to
find that experience with change is an attribute common to many
successful change agents. These individuals embrace change
rather than avoiding it and seeing it as “the enemy.” They are
constantly scanning the environment, picking up cues that allow
them to develop a rich understanding of their organization’s
situation and the need for change. As the situation shifts, they are
aware of those shifts and respond appropriately to them. They
make this easier for themselves by ensuring that they are part of
networks that will tell them what they need to hear—not what they
want to hear. They build these networks over time through their
trustworthiness, credibility, and interpersonal skills and through the
value other members of these networks derive from them.
Networks don’t work for long if others don’t feel they are getting
value from them. To ensure that members of the networks and
others continue to communicate with them, change leaders are
well advised to remember to never be seen as shooting the
messenger. If messengers believe the act of communicating will
put them at risk, they will alter their behavior accordingly.27
6. Intelligence
Intelligence is needed to engage in analysis, to assess possible
courses of action, and to create confidence in a proposed plan.28
In general, one has more confidence in a proposal developed by a
bright individual than one brought forward by a dullard. However,
traditionally defined intelligence is not enough. Interpersonal skills,
empathy, self-regulation, a positive and yet realistic outlook,
attention to detail, and the motivational drive to see things through
are needed to frame proposals effectively and implement them.
These factors make up what is called emotional intelligence and it
is often highlighted in discussions of change agent
characteristics.29 In his investigation of the characteristics of
change leaders, Caldwell differentiates the attributes of change
leaders from those he calls change managers.30 Table 8.1
outlines his view of the differences. Caldwell argues that change
leaders operate from a visionary, adaptable perspective while
change managers are much more hands on and work with people.
Of course, there is nothing that says a change agent cannot
possess the attributes of both change leaders and change
managers (as defined by Caldwell). In fact, they will need access
to both, depending upon their role(s) and the change challenges
they are addressing. Another way to think about the various
attributes of change agents is to consider the sorts of behaviors
they give rise to. The following three categories of change
behaviors are a helpful way of grouping their actions:31
Framing behaviors: behaviors oriented toward changing the
sense of the situation, establishing starting points for change,
designing the change journey, and communicating principles
Capacity-creating behaviors: behaviors focused on creating
the capacity for change by increasing individual and
organizational capabilities and creating and communicating
connections in the organization
Shaping behaviors: actions that attempt to shape what people
do by acting as a role model, holding others accountable,
thinking about change, and focusing on individuals in the
change process
Table 8.1 Attributes of Change Leaders and
Change Managers
Table 8.1 Attributes of Change Leaders and Change
Attributes of Change
Attributes of Change Managers
Attributes of Change
Is a visionary
Is an entrepreneur
Has integrity and
Learns from
Is open to new
Takes risks
Is adaptable and
Nurtures creativity
Uses power
Attributes of Change Managers
Empowers others
Builds teams
Learns from others
Is adaptable and flexible
Is open to new ideas
Manages resistance
Resolves conflict
Has in-depth knowledge of
the business
Solves problems
Source: Adapted from Caldwell, R. (2003). Change leaders and change
managers: Different or complementary?” Leadership & Organization
Development Journal, 24(5), 285–293.
Higgs and Rowland examined such behaviors and discovered that
“framing change and building capacity are more successful than
shaping behavior.”32 They suggested that change leaders should
shift from a leader-centric, directive approach to a more
facilitating, enabling style in today’s organizations.
The attributes were ranked by experts. The most highly ranked
are at the top of the list, with the others following in order. Note
that Table 8.1 identifies attributes not specifically mentioned in the
preceding pages.
Kouzes and Posner provide an important model of the behavioral
characteristics of effective change leaders, based on answers
from thousands of managers and executives to the fundamental
question: When you were a leader at your best, what did you do?
In the Leadership Challenge, the authors synthesize their
extensive research and argue that leaders who are adept at
getting extraordinary things done know how to do the following:
(1) model the way; (2) inspire a shared sense of vision; (3)
challenge the status quo; (4) enable others to act; and (5)
encourage the heart of those involved with the change.33 The
authors do an excellent job setting out how to accomplish these
things, and their book is recommended reading for those
interested in pursuing these ideas further.*
* As you reflect on the material in this section, you may find it
useful to review the story in Chapter 7 of Monique Leroux’s
change leadership at Desjardin.
See Toolkit Exercise 8.2 to rate yourself as a change leader.
Developing into a Change Leader
Intention, Education, Self-Discipline, and
Many change leadership skills can be learned, which means that
they can be taught.** The acquisition of concepts and language
establishes mental frameworks for want-to-be change leaders.
Reading about best practices and landmines can alert novices to
predictable success paths and mistakes. The Center for Creative
Leadership34 is one of a number of organizations that produce
publications about relevant leadership challenges and practices.
In a 2007 article, Corey Criswell and Andre Martin identified a
number of trends that future leaders need to be aware of that are
creating change to the way business is done. They include (a)
more complex challenges, (b) a focus on innovation, (c) an
increase in virtual communication and leadership, (d) the
importance of authenticity, and (e) leading for long-term survival.35
The awareness of these macro-level trends will help change
agents better understand the environment and use and develop
necessary skills to lead change internally.
** Like many fields, formal study and education play their role in
developing change leaders—thus this book!
Change leaders also need to understand and embrace the notion
of experiential learning. It is rare that someone is a change agent
only once. Change leadership capacities are a sought-out skill set.
These skills are developed similarly to the way individuals
strengthen their physical skills. Once you start toning a muscle
set, it feels good and you strive to continue to maintain and
develop that muscle. But performance typically is tied to our
capacity to have our muscles act interdependently. When one set
of muscles develops, you may find others that need strengthening
to improve your overall capacity to perform. Similarly, within an
organization, change agents seek opportunities to continuously
improve both themselves and their organizations. They may have
great interpersonal skills, but they need expertise in crafting
financial arguments, or vice versa. Over time, this process of
development becomes part of one’s professional identity. The
journey never ends.
As part of this process, self-discovery, discipline, and reflection
are critical to ongoing success and growth. Jeanie Daniel Duck
argues that an organization will not change if the individuals within
that organization do not develop themselves. As a change leader,
if you intentionally model reflective behavior, you will encourage
others to do the same. The key questions to ask, according to
Duck, are these:
Questions for oneself:
Behavior to modify:
Which of your behaviors
will you stop, start, or
Identify this behavior and
replace it with something else.
What, specifically, are you
willing to do?
Brainstorm different actions
and how you might measure
How will others know?
Help yourself by engaging
others to hold you
How might you sabotage
Identify ways in which you
might hold yourself back.
Construct an encouraging
What’s the payoff in this for
reward and motivate
Bennis describes four rules that he believes change leaders
should accept to enhance their self-development:
1. You are your own best teacher.
2. You accept responsibility and blame no one.
3. You can learn anything you want to learn.
4. True understanding comes from reflection on your
Bennis’s fundamental message is to take responsibility for your
own learning and development as a change leader. This requires
reflection. Of course, reflection implies something to reflect on—
thus, the role of experience. It is through reflection that a change
leader hones existing skills and abilities, becomes open to new
ideas, and begins to think broadly, widening the lens through
which he or she looks at the situation at hand. In a disciplined
manner, a would-be change leader needs to establish personal
change goals and write them down. This calls for intentional
reflection and continuous learning, which are important for both
the individual level, as described by Duck, as well as the
organizational level, in developing the ability to change.
What Does Reflection Mean?
Organizations are able to change more effectively when
individuals and change leaders within the organization shift their
mental maps and frameworks, and this requires openness and
reflection. The skill of communication is essential here, as it is
through conversation and open dialogue that change occurs.
There is a need to think with others in a reflective way to see
change happen. In order to do this, an individual needs to
understand what the group thinks and why. The group then needs
to identify its shared assumptions, seek information, and develop
a mutual understanding of the current reality. This involves open
and honest communication in a space where no one is wrong and
there is a commitment to finding that common ground—for the
present situation and the vision for the future. Change leaders are
in the position to create safe spaces for reflection where members
of the organization have a voice that is listened to and valued.
Appreciative inquiry (AI), a concept introduced by Dr. David L.
Cooperrider at Case Western Reserve University, is critical in
these conversations of reflection. AI is the engagement of
individuals in an organizational system in its renewal. If you can
find the best in the organization and individuals—that is,
appreciate it—Cooperrider argues that growth will occur and
renewal will result. Through AI, people seek to find and
understand the best in people, organizations, and the world by
reflecting on past positive experiences and performance. In doing
so, the positive energy and commitment to improve is
embraced.38 By framing positively, a different type of energy is
found within the organization to move forward in the direction of
AI provides an interesting approach for change agents to consider
when thinking about how best to approach change, because it
recognizes the value of ongoing individual and collective reflection
to the enactment of effective change. In order for reflection to add
value, there can’t be a “wrong” understanding. Everyone must
strive to fully understand people’s perceptions, assumptions, and
visions through discussing and challenging one another’s views.
In a global society with relationships developing and evolving at all
levels, organizations operate in an ever-changing context, making
the development of shared understanding and mutual respect all
the more important.
Developmental Stages of Change
Miller argues that there are developmental stages of a change
agent. He believes that individuals progress through stages of
beliefs about change, increasing in their complexity and
sophistication.39 (See Table 8.2 for an outline of his belief stages.)
He believes that movement from Stage 1, Novice, to Stage 2,
Junior, to Stage 3, Experienced, might be learned vicariously—by
observing others or by studying change. However, movement to
Stage 4, Expert, requires living with a change project and
suffering the frustrations, surprises, and resistance that come with
the territory.
There is evidence that these change agent skills and
competencies can be acquired through the systematic use of
developmental assignments.40 See Toolkit Exercise 8.3 to
evaluate your development as a change agent.
Table 8.2 Miller’s Stages of Change Beliefs
Table 8.2 Miller’s Stages of Change Beliefs
Stage 1
Beliefs: People will change once they
understand the logic of the change. People
can be told to change. As a result, clear
communication is key.
Underlying is the assumption that people are
rational and will follow their self-interest once
it is revealed to them. Alternately, power and
sanctions will ensure compliance.
Stage 2
Beliefs: People change through powerful
communication and symbolism. Change
planning will include the use of symbols and
group meetings.
Stage 3
Stage 4
Underlying is the assumption that people will
change if they are “sold” on the beliefs.
Again, failing this, the organization can use
power and/or sanctions.
Beliefs: People may not be willing or able or
ready to change. As a result, change leaders
will enlist specialists to design a change plan
and the leaders will work at change but resist
modifying their own vision.
Underlying is the assumption that the ideal
state is where people will become committed
to change. Otherwise, power and sanctions
must be used.
Beliefs: People have a limited capacity to
absorb change and may not be as willing,
able, or ready to change as you wish.
Thinking through how to change the people is
central to the implementation of change.
Underlying is the assumption that
commitment for change must be built and
that power or sanctions have major
limitations in achieving change and building
organizational capacity.
Source: Adapted from Miller, D. (2002). Successful change leaders: What
makes them? What do they do that is different? Journal of Change
Management, 2(4), 383.
Four Types of Change Leaders
Regardless of their skill sets, change agents’ ability to sense and
interpret significant environmental shifts is of particular importance
to their capacity to respond. Part of such an ability comes from the
deep study of a field or industry. As well, some might have the
intuition to understand significant changes in the environment by
their ability to detect and interpret underlying patterns.41 Take, for
example, Glegg Industries of Glegg Water Treatment Services.
Glegg Water Systems42
In 2000, GE bought Glegg Industries. Glegg Water Treatment
Services had been an entrepreneurial organization that grew at a
compound growth rate of 20% to 25% in the 1980s and 1990s. The
executives had a clear and strong vision: “pure water for the world.”
They used this vision to pull the organization in the direction they
wanted. They were tough, realistic analyzers of data that provided a
sophisticated understanding of the company’s market. Three times in
their history, the leadership forecasted a decline in growth rates in
the technology that the organization was using —so they shifted into
completely new but related areas. For example, the organization
delivered water treatment systems for power industries. As that
market matured, the company shifted to produce high-quality water
systems for computer makers. Later, it shifted to a new membrane
technology, which permitted integrated systems to be sold.
When GE bought the company, it branded the products as GE Glegg
Water Technologies. By 2002, however, GE rebranded the products
again to GE Water Technologies.
At Glegg Water Treatment Services, change leaders understood
the strategic shifts in the industry and what that implied for their
organization. Between these major disruptions, they worked
incrementally to improve operations and to change the
organization for the better. To do this, they motivated people by
reinforcing their belief in the importance of what they were doing—
providing the purest water possible. However, they did not just use
these visionary or emotional appeals, they also used data to
persuade. Hard, calculated numbers pushed their perspectives
forward and provided convincing evidence of the need for change
and the value of the vision.
Much of the change literature differentiates between the types of
change that Glegg experienced: strategic or episodic change
followed by incremental or continuous change.43 Episodic change
is change that is “infrequent, discontinuous, and intentional.”
Continuous change is change that is “ongoing, evolving and
cumulative.” Weick and Quinn suggest that the appropriate model
here is “freeze, rebalance and unfreeze.” That is, change agents
need to capture the underlying patterns and dynamics (freeze the
conceptual understanding); reinterpret, relabel (reframe and
rebalance those understandings); and resume improvisation and
learning (unfreeze).44 Further, Weick and Quinn suggest that the
role of change agents shifts depending on the type of change.
Episodic change needs a prime mover change agent—one who
creates change. Continuous change needs a change agent who is
a sense maker who is then able to refine and redirect the
organization’s actions.
The Glegg Water example also shows that change agents and
their agendas can act in “pull” or “push” ways. Pull actions by
change agents create goals that draw willing organizational
members to change and are characterized by organizational
visions of higher-order purposes and strategies. Push actions, on
the other hand, are data based and factual and are communicated
in ways that advance analytical thinking and reasoning and that
push recipients’ thinking in new directions. Change agents who
rely on push actions can also use legitimate, positional, and
reward-and-punishment power in ways that change the dynamics
of situations.45 At Glegg Water, markets were assessed and plans
were created and implemented based on the best data available.
Table 8.3 outlines a model that relates the motivational
approaches of the change agent (analytical push versus
emotional pull) to the degree of change needed by the
organization (strategic versus incremental). The model identifies
four change agent types: Emotional Champion, Developmental
Strategist, Intuitive Adapter, and Continuous Improver. Some
change agents will tend to act true to their type due to the nature
of their personalities, predispositions, and situations. Others will
move beyond their preferences and develop greater flexibility in
the range of approaches at their disposal. The latter will therefore
adopt a more flexible approach to change, modifying their
approach to reflect the specific situation and the people involved.
The Emotional Champion has a clear and powerful vision of
what the organization needs and uses that vision to capture the
hearts and motivations of the organization’s members. An
organization often needs an emotional champion when there is a
dramatic shift in the environment and the organization’s
structures, systems, and sense of direction are inadequate. To be
an emotional champion means that the change agent foresees a
new future, understands the deep gap between the organization
and its future, can articulate a powerful vision that gives hope that
the gap can be overcome, and has a high order of persuasion
skills. When Glegg Water Treatment Services was faced with
declining growth and needed to find new growth markets, it
needed the visionary who could picture the strategic shift and
create an appealing vision of that future.
Table 8.3 Change Agent Types
An Emotional Champion
is comfortable with ambiguity and risk;
thinks tangentially and challenges accepted ways of doing
has strong intuitive abilities; and
relies on feelings and emotions to influence others.
The Developmental Strategist applies rational analysis to
understanding the competitive logic of the organization and how it
no longer fits with the organization’s existing strategy. He or she
sees how to alter structures and processes to shift the
organization to the new alignment and eliminate the major gap
between the organization and the environment’s demands. Again,
in Glegg Water, the strategic shifts resulted not only from the
capturing of a new vision but also from market intelligence and
analysis. Hard-nosed thinking enabled Glegg Water to see how to
take its company to a new level by finding a new market focus.
A Developmental Strategist
engages in big-picture thinking about strategic change and
the fit between the environment and the organization;
sees organizations in terms of systems and structures fitting
into logical, integrated components that fit (or don’t) with
environmental demands; and
is comfortable with assessing risk and taking significant
chances based on a thorough assessment of the situation.
The Intuitive Adapter has the clear vision for the organization
and uses that vision to reinforce a culture of learning and
adaptation. Often the vision will seem less dramatic or powerful
because the organization is aligned with its environment and the
change agent’s role is to ensure the organization stays on track.
The change agent develops a culture of learning and continuous
improvement where employees constantly test their actions
against the vision. At Glegg Water, continuous improvement was a
byword. Central to this were the people who understood the pure
water vision and what it meant to customers. Efficiency was not
allowed to overrule a focus on quality.
An Intuitive Adapter
embraces moderate risks;
engages in a limited search for solutions;
is comfortable with the current direction that the vision offers;
relies on intuition and emotion to persuade others to propel
the organization forward through incremental changes.
The Continuous Improver analyzes micro environments and
seeks changes such as reengineering systems and processes.
The organization in this category is reasonably well aligned with
its environment and is in an industry where complex systems and
processes provide for improvement opportunities. At Glegg Water,
information systems captured data on productivity and processes.
These data were used to improve efficiency and profits.
A Continuous Improver
thinks logically and carefully about detailed processes and
how they can be improved;
aims for possible gains and small wins rather than great
leaps; and
is systematic in his or her thinking while making careful gains.
The purpose of this model is to marry types of change with
methods of persuasion. Each change agent will have personal
preferences. Some will craft visions that could sweep employees
onto the change team. Others will carefully and deliberately build
a data-based case that would convince the most rational finance
expert. Change agents will have their preferred styles but, as
noted earlier, some will be able to adapt their approach and
credibly use other styles as the situation demands. By knowing
your own level of flexibility, you can undertake initiatives that will
develop your capacity to adapt your approach as a change agent
in a given situation. Alternatively, if you’re concerned about your
own capacity to respond, you can ally with others who possess
the style that a particular situation demands.
In Chapter 1, we briefly discussed the preferences of adaptors
(those with an orientation toward incremental change) and
innovators (those who prefer more radical or transformational
change).46 Kirton’s work with these two orientations points out that
individuals tend to have clear preferences in their orientation and
sometimes fail to recognize the value present in the alternative
approach to change as they focus on what they are most
comfortable with. When this occurs, there may be an
inappropriate fit of approach with the situation or the people
involved. Alternatively, when individuals with both preferences are
present, this can lead to disagreement and conflict concerning
how best to proceed. While constructive disagreement and debate
about alternatives is valuable, managers need to avoid
dysfunctional personal attacks and defensive behavior. This points
again to the importance of developing greater awareness of the
different change styles and the benefits of personal flexibility.
When managers lack the needed orientation and style, they need
access to allies with the requisite skills.
Many organizations expect their managers to develop skills as
change agents. As a result, managers need to improve their
understanding of internal change agent roles and strategies.
Internal organizational members need to learn the team-building,
negotiating, influencing, and other change-management skills to
become effective facilitators. They need to move beyond technical
skills from being the person with the answer to being the person
with process-management change skills: the person who helps
the organization find the answers and handles the complex and
multivariate nature of the reality it faces.47 Hunsaker identified four
different internal roles a change agent can play: catalyst, solution
giver, process helper, and resource linker.48 The catalyst is
needed to overcome inertia and focus the organization on the
problems faced. The solution giver knows how to respond and
can solve the problem. The key here, of course, is having your
ideas accepted. The process helper facilitates the “how to” of
change, playing the role of third-party intervener often. Finally, the
resource linker brings people and resources together in ways
that aid in the solution of issues. All four roles are important, and
knowing them provides a checklist of optional strategies for the
internal change agent. See Toolkit Exercise 8.4 to find your
change agent preference.
Internal Consultants: Specialists in
Internal change agents involved with leading projects often have
line responsibilities for the initiative. However, larger organizations
also advance change through the use of individuals who are
internal consultants. Organizational-development specialists,
project-management specialists, lean or Six Sigma experts, and
specialists from other staff functions such as accounting and IT
are examples of this. When internal change agents are operating
from a consulting role, Christopher Wright found that they manage
the ambiguity and communicate the value associated with such
roles by developing a professional persona that highlights their
distinctive competencies as well as reinforces their internal
knowledge and linkages.49
Internal change agents are critical to the process because they
know the systems, norms, and subtleties of how things get done,
and they have existing relationships that can prove helpful.
However, they may not possess needed specialized knowledge or
skills, lack objectivity or independence, have difficulty reframing
existing relationships with organizational members, or lack an
adequate power base. When there are concerns that these gaps
cannot be sufficiently addressed by pulling in other organizational
members to assist with the process, organizational leaders may
believe that it is necessary to bring in external consultants to
assist with the project. Sometimes the external consultants are
sought out by the internal change agents, while at other times
they are thrust upon them. Wise organizational leaders know that
external consultants need strong credentials if they are to win over
the skeptics about a change project. In fact, poorly performing
external consultants can create resistance to a change initiative.
External Consultants: Specialized,
Paid Change Agents
Provide Subject-Matter Expertise
External change agents are often hired to promote change
through the technical expertise and credibility they bring to an
internal change program. This was the case at Simmons College.
Using an External Consultant at Simmons University50
In 2006, the School of Business, Simmons University, Boston,
Massachusetts, turned to an external consultant when working to
gain AACSB International accreditation. The faculty had floundered
for several years about how to assess students’ learning of the
overall management curriculum. Required by the AACSB’s
Standards to illustrate that its graduating students have learned a
program’s curriculum, some schools institute standardized tests to
assess students’ learning. However, the School of Business wanted
a customized approach to evaluate the unique aspects of its
management curriculum. The faculty struggled to envision
methodologies and content to reach its goals. Finally, Katherine
Martell, an assessment guru, was hired, bringing with her knowledge
of how 50 other business schools conducted their assessment
processes. When she left the school after two days of working with
the faculty, the assessment processes and plans were in place and
readily implemented in the following months.
Katherine Martell, the external consultant, was able to help faculty
solve the “assessment of learning” problem that had stalled their
progress in attaining AACSB accreditation. She did so by helping
them work their way through the issues and find a solution. In
addition to her technical skills and professional credibility, she was
also retained because she possessed well-developed teamprocess skills that were instrumental in helping them work their
way through the problem. When internal change agents or their
teams feel they lack the technical skills needed in these areas,
they often turn to external expertise.
Bring Fresh Perspectives From Ideas That Have
Worked Elsewhere
Too often, insiders find themselves tied to their experiences, and
outside consultants can help extricate them from these mental
traps.51 Much can be learned from the systems and procedures
that others have used elsewhere. In the following example, the
leadership team at Knox Presbyterian Church (Waterloo)
recognized it had a problem with how to approach fundraising and
turned to RSI Consulting, who had helped many other churches
address similar challenges through the use of established
procedures. Once it had examined RSI’s approach, the church’s
leadership team retained Craig Miller’s services and was able to
successfully adopt the approach.
External Consultants as Process Experts52
When Knox Presbyterian Church, Waterloo, Canada, was planning a
new building, church leaders decided they needed a capital
campaign to bring life to their change initiative. However, the
coordinating team knew that their view of fundraising was tied to past
approaches and they recognized that these would not be able to
raise the funds required. They searched out and hired RSI
Consulting, specialists in church campaigns, with more than 9,000
conducted in 38 years. Craig Miller of RSI brought standard
templates, which he used to guide church volunteers in framing the
campaign and organizing their fundraising work. The Knox
Congregation had the vision and the manpower but lacked the
expertise and structure in how to handle the fundraising. By hiring
RSI, they did not have to design the structure for a capital campaign;
they borrowed it. As a result, Knox church members raised more
than $2.3 million in pledges, in the 90th percentile of results for that
size of church, and they did so very economically.
Provide Independent, Trustworthy Support
To help them manage the change process, internal change agents
may find they need access to outside consultants who are viewed
as independent, credible, competent, and (most importantly)
trustworthy by others in the organization. In addition to guidance,
they may be able to lend external credibility and support for
analyses that advance the change initiative. Such consultants can
prove extremely helpful with internal and external data gathering
and the communication of the findings and their implications.
Organizational members may feel more comfortable sharing their
thoughts and concerns with the consultants than they would with
internal staff. Finally, the external validation their analyses and
conclusions provide may be the nudge needed to generate high
levels of internal support for the change and action.
Limitations of External Consultants
External consultants can be instrumental in helping foster an
atmosphere conducive to change by leveraging their reputations
and skill sets through the way they manage the process. However,
they have their limitations. They lack the deep knowledge of the
political environment and culture of the organization that the inside
change agents should have, and in the end it is the organization
that needs to take responsibility for the change, not the external
consultant. As a result, external change consultants may be able
to assist internal agents, but they cannot replace them. Final
decision- making needs to reside with the internal change leader
and the organization.
How an internal change leader selects, introduces, and uses
external consultants will have a lot to do with the ultimate success
or failure of a change initiative. Consultants come in many forms,
with different backgrounds, expertise, price tags, and ambitions.
They often come with prescribed methodologies and offer
prepackaged solutions. As a result, some consultants are
insensitive to the organization’s culture. The provision of readymade answers not based in specific organizational research can
be frustrating, and prescription without diagnosis is arguably
malpractice.53 Responsibility for this failure will fall back on the
manager who retained the consultant, since he or she is
accountable for managing this relationship.
Another risk factor is that consultants may receive signals that
they are expected to unquestioningly support the position of the
leader of the organization that brought them in, even when the
external consultants have serious concerns with the course of
action being undertaken. When external consultants lose their
ability to provide independent judgment, their value and credibility
are seriously reduced and their reputations may suffer irreparable
harm if they succumb to pressure and the change subsequently
fails in a very public manner.54 In spite of these and other risks,
many organizations continue to use external consultants to
advance their change agendas and mitigate the risks of failure.
One study reports that 83% of organizations that used consultants
said they would use them again.55 To increase the chances of
success, consider the following advice on how to select an
external consultant.
How Should You Select an External Consultant?56
Since the appropriate consultant or consulting team will either
advance or detract from the success of your change initiative,
selecting a suitable one is a critical step. The following process is
recommended for complex organizational change situations:
1. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of what you want
from the consultants. Too often organizations hire consultants
without thinking through exactly what value they can and will
bring. Know who they will report to, what roles they will play,
and how much you are willing to pay for their services.
2. Talk with multiple (up to five) consultants and/or consulting
organizations. Internal change leaders will learn a great deal
about the organization’s problems and how they might be
solved by talking with multiple vendors. They will also be able to
compare and contrast the consultants’ working styles, allowing
them to gauge the chemistry between the change leader and
team and the consultant. The internal change leader needs to
ask, Do we have complementary or similar skills and outlook?
Does this consultant bring skills and knowledge that I lack
internally? Does the organization have the budget that is
needed to engage this consultant?
3. Issue a request for proposals (RFP). Only ask those
consultants with whom you would like to work, since writing and
responding to RFPs is a time-consuming and labor-intensive
process. Ask the internal leaders of the change process to
objectively review the RFPs and provide you with feedback.
4. Make your decision and communicate expectations. Indicate
clearly to the internal change leaders, the consultant(s), and all
stakeholders the time line, roles, expectations, deliverables,
and reporting relationships
Change Teams
To balance access to needed perspectives, organizational leaders
are moving toward the use of change teams that embody both
internal and external perspectives. Change initiatives that are
large require the efforts of more than one change agent. Outside
consultants may be helpful, but as was noted earlier, they may be
too expensive, and lack credibility. As a result, change agents look
to extend their reach by using change teams. Worren suggests
that teams are important because “employees learn new
behaviors and attitudes by participating in ad-hoc teams solving
real business problems.”57 Further, as change agents become
immersed in the change, the volume of work increases and the
roles and skills required of them vary. A cross-functional change
team can be used to bring different perspectives, expertise, and
credibility to bear on the change challenge inherent in those
different roles.58
Organizational downsizing and increasing interest in the use of
self-managed teams as an organizing approach for flattened
hierarchies and cross-functional change initiatives have spurred
awareness of the value of such teams.59 Involvement in selfmanaged teams gives people space and time to adjust their views
and/or influence the change process. It moves them out of the role
of recipient and makes them active and engaged stakeholders.
In a benchmarking study focused on the best practices in change
management, Prosci describes a good change-management team
member as follows:
Being knowledgeable about the business and enthusiastic
about the change
Possessing excellent oral and written communications skills,
and a willingness to listen and share
Having total commitment to the project, the process, and the
Being able to remain open minded and visionary
Being respected within the organization as an apolitical
catalyst for strategic change.60
Some of these characteristics of a good change team member
appear contradictory. For example, it is tricky to be simultaneously
totally committed and open-minded. Nevertheless, skilled change
leaders often exhibit paradoxical or apparently contradictory
characteristics. For example, the need to both be joined with and
yet separate from other members of the change team in order to
maintain independence of perspective and judgment is a difficult
balance to maintain.61 See Toolkit Exercise 8.5 to analyze your
skills as a change team member.
Working with and in teams is a baseline skill for change leaders.
They must not only work to achieve the change, but they must
also bring the change team along so that it accepts, is
enthusiastic about, and effectively contributes to the
implementation of the change initiative. Many might believe that
this requires individuals who are adept at reducing stress and
strain in the team, but this is not always the case.
Bill Gates: Team Leader
Gates rarely indulges in water-cooler bantering and social niceties
that put people at ease. But while Microsoft’s former CEO and
chairman was not considered a warm, affable person, he was an
effective hands-on manager, says one former employee. “Bill is an
exceptional motivator. For as much as he does not like small talk, he
loves working with people on matters of substance,” says Scott
Langmack, a former Microsoft marketing manager.62
The most effective response will depend upon the needs of the
situation. Bill Gates, for example, developed high-performance
change teams in spite of a dominating personality and awkward
social skills because of his abilities in the areas of vision and his
capacity to attract and motivate highly talented individuals.
In the summer of 2008, Gates announced that he would cease
full-time work at Microsoft to focus on his charitable foundations.63
With this announcement, change agents and teams within
Microsoft faced a new set of challenges related to managing this
transition. Teams were essential components in making change
A Successful Change Team at Case Western Reserve University
Many years ago, a group of students at Case Western Reserve
University decided that there had to be better ways of teaching
organizational change and development. This small group dedicated
itself to changing the system. In two years, they transformed parts of
Case Western and created the first doctoral program in
organizational development with themselves as potential graduates.
They planned and plotted. They identified key stakeholders and
assigned team members to each stakeholder with the responsibility
of bringing that stakeholder onside—or at least neutralizing their
opposition. It was the team that made the change happen. They put
into practice what they were learning as students.64
Creating the conditions for successful change is more than having an
excellent change project plan. Equally important is recognizing the
different change roles that need to be played and then developing a
strong change team. This section covers the different change roles
that team members play and how you design an excellent change
Possible Roles Within Change Teams*
* In Chapter 1, we discussed the roles that an individual can play:
change recipient, initiator, facilitator, and implementer. These
same roles are looked at here in relation to change teams.
Many change examples point out the need for a champion within
the team who will fight for the change under trying circumstances
and will continue to persevere when others might have checked
out and given up. These change champions represent the
visionary, the immovable force for change who will continue to
push for the change regardless of the opposition. Senior
managers need to ensure that those to whom the change is
delegated possess the energy, drive, skills, resilience, and
credibility needed to make it happen. If these are lacking, steps
need to be taken to ensure that they are either developed or
appropriate team members pick up the slack.
Change champions should consider two further organizing roles
that are often better operationalized through the use of two
separate teams: a steering team and a design and
implementation team. The steering team provides advice to the
champion and the implementation team directs the change in light
of other events and priorities in the organization. As suggested by
the name, the steering team plays an advisory and navigational
function for the change project. It provides direction to the team’s
mandate, helps secure needed resources, suggests higher-order
policies, and participates in major go/no-go decisions.
The design and implementation team plans the details of the
change, deals with the stakeholders, and has primary
responsibility for the implementation. The responsibilities of the
different team members will vary over time, depending upon what
is needed and their skill sets. The team will often have a change
project manager who will coordinate planning, manage logistics,
track the team’s progress toward change targets, and manage the
adjustments needed along the way.
Senior executives who act as sponsors of change foster
commitment to the change and assist those charged with making
the change happen.65 Sponsors can act visibly, can share
information and knowledge, and can give protection. Visible
sponsorship means the senior manager advocates for the
change and shows support through actions (i.e., use of influence
and time) as well as words. Information sharing and knowledge
development has the sponsor providing useful information about
change and working with the team to ensure that the plans are
sound. Finally, sponsors can provide protection for those to
whom the change has been delegated. Without such protection,
the individuals in the organization will tend to become more risk
averse and less willing to champion the change.66
Developing a Change Team
Developing the team is an important task for the change leaders
because the ability to build teams, motivate, and communicate are
all predictors of successful change implementation.67 If change
teams can be developed that are self-regulating, change can
often be facilitated because teams leverage the change leader’s
reach. The engagement and involvement of team members tends
to heighten their commitment and support for the initiative,68 and
because they operate independently, self-managed teams can
reduce the amount of time senior managers must commit to
implementation-related activities. Self-managed teams share an
understanding of the change goals and objectives, sort out the
differentiation and execution of tasks, and have control over the
decision process.
Wageman has identified the following seven factors as critical to
team success with self-managed teams:
clear, engaging direction;
a real team task;
rewards for team excellence;
the availability of basic material resources to do the job;
authority vested in the team to manage the work;
team goals; and
the development of team norms that promote strategic
A similar list was developed by the Change Institute and is set out
in Table 8.470
Table 8.4 Design Rules for Top Teams
Table 8.4 Design Rules for Top Teams
1. Keep it small: 10 or fewer members.
2. Meet a minimum of biweekly and demand full
attendance—less often breaks the rhythm of
cooperation. How the team meets is less important—it
may be face to face or through virtual means.
3. Everything is your business. That is, no information is
4. Each of you is accountable for your business.
5. No secrets and no surprises within the team.
6. Straight talk, modeled by the leader.
7. Fast decisions, modeled by the leader.
8. Everyone’s paid partly on the total results.
The dedication and willingness to give it their “all” is the most
obvious characteristic of highly committed change teams. The
dogged determination to make changes regardless of personal
consequences because of a deep-rooted belief in a vision creates
both the conditions for victory and the possibilities of
organizational suicide. In the earlier example at Case Western
Reserve University, if the changes were not successful, the
individuals involved would have sacrificed several years of their
lives to no organizational effect. In the case of Lou Gerstner’s
turnaround at IBM,71 there was a distinct possibility that the firm
would not survive and members of his inner circle would be
forever known as the individuals who oversaw the collapse of this
American corporate icon. Instead, they are known as the inner
circle who helped Gerstner turn around IBM from losing $8.1
billion in 1993 to renewal, profitability, and growth. At the time of
his retirement in 2002, the value of a share of IBM’s stock had
risen from $13 to $80, adjusted for splits. Wanting to create one
“Big Blue,” Gerstner reorganized the corporation from individual
fiefdoms to one integrated organization and tied the pay of his top
10 executives (his inner circle) to the overall company’s
performance. In reflecting upon his success in transforming IBM,
Gerstner stressed “how imperative it was for a leader to love their
business and to ‘kill yourself to make it successful.’ There is no
substitute for hard work and the desire to win. CEOs face a
multitude of choices, often peddled by a multitude of selfinterested advisors, but they need to focus on exploiting
competitive advantages in core businesses” (p. 2).72
In forming a change team, the personalities and skills of the
members will play a significant role in the team’s success. The
change process demands a paradoxical set of skills: the ability to
create a vision and the intuition to see the connections between
that vision and all of the things that will need to be done. This
includes identifying who will need to be influenced; thinking
positively about stakeholders while recognizing what will influence
them and why they may resist you; caring passionately for an
initiative and yet not interpreting criticism as a personal attack;
and translating strategy and vision into concrete change plans.
Having the capacity to deal with these paradoxes requires comfort
and skill in dealing with ambiguity and complexity.
Developing Change Teams at Federal Express73
Federal Express has developed a checklist for using change teams.
1. Ensure that everybody who has a contribution to make is fully
involved, and those who will have to make any change are
identified and included.
2. Convince people that their involvement is serious and not a
management ploy—present all ideas from management as
“rough” ideas.
3. Ensure commitment to making any change work—the team
members identify and develop “what is in it for them” when they
move to make the idea work.
4. Increase the success rate for new ideas: identify problems in a
problem-solving, rather than blame-fixing, approach.
5. Deliver the best solutions: problem-solving teams self-select to
find answers to the barriers to successful implementation.
6. Maintain momentum and enthusiasm: the remainder of the
team continues to work on refining the basic idea.
7. Present problem solutions, improve where necessary, approve,
and implement immediately.
8. Refine ideas, agree upon them, and plan the implementation
Adapted from Lambert, T. (2006). Insight. MENAFN.com.
While the tasks around change demand the paradoxical expertise
explained above, functional and technical competencies also play
a very important role. It is difficult to imagine a team establishing
credibility if it lacks such basics. However, the personalities
present in the team will influence how the team interacts and
performs, including its ability to manage the inherent paradoxes.
While it is usually not necessary for the team to be highly
cohesive, cohesion, rooted in a shared sense of purpose, will lend
strength to the change effort and focus the team’s activities.
Implementing change requires considerable energy and can be
frustrating and exhausting. At such times, having access to a
cohesive and committed team can be invaluable in sustaining the
team during difficult times.
The boxed insert below describes how Federal Express
systematically develops a team approach to change.
Use to your advantage the Checklist: Structuring Work in a
Change Team that follows the Key Terms section in this chapter.
Change from the Middle: Everyone
Needs to Be a Change Agent
Increasingly, successful organizational members will find that they
need to act as change agents in their organizations. As
Katzenbach suggests, the real change leader will take action—do
things, try them out, and then do it again while getting better.74
While this book applauds this type of initiative, remember the first
rule for change agents: Stay alive.
When managers find themselves involved with change, most will
be operating from the middle of the organization. At times, they
will have those above them attempting to direct or influence
change while they are trying to influence those superiors about
what needs to be initiated and how best to proceed. At other
times, middle managers will need to deal with subordinates and
peers who will be on the receiving end of the change or who are
themselves trying to initiate activities.
Oshry recognized the feelings of middle powerlessness that
many feel when operating in the “middle” and outlined strategies
for increasing one’s power in these situations.75 Problem
ownership is one of the key issues. Far too…
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