The Five Daily Reflections of the Change Agent

Reading Seeds for a Boundless Life, a book on Zen Buddhism by Zenkei Blanch Hartman, I came across a reference to the Upajjhatthana Sutra’s Five Daily Reflections. The Sutra recommends daily reflections to help Buddhists to focus less on their attachments to ego & desires and more upon their actions.

Reflecting on these, I saw a parallel to common challenges for each change agent’s practice of bringing about a better world. Change agents are taking on difficult work, not for the benefits of ego or any personal desire. Change agents act out of a purpose to make an impact that helps others.  At the same time what surprises many who take on change is that the road is harder and more difficult than they ever expected.

Every change agent lives with these five daily reflections:

  • I can’t go back. There is no way to go back.
  • I can’t avoid obstacles. Obstacles are the work.
  • I don’t have forever. Time is limited.
  • Everything changes. Loss is part of that change.
  • My actions and my interactions are how I make the change work.

Five Reflections of the Change Agent

Once a change agent sees the need to make a change in the world, it becomes impossible to ignore. They can’t wish it away or pretend things are as they were. They can’t undo their commitment to purpose.

Embracing that commitment means accepting that there will be obstacles to be overcome. The obstacles aren’t inconveniences or distractions. They are the work to be done to bring about the change.

Time is always a constraint. Time demands we make the most of every opportunities to create change. Time means we must start now. Time means we must involve others.

Just as we must embrace the obstacles we encounter in our work, we must accept that there will be loss in bringing about change. Some things we lose will be important to us and to others. Part of a change agent’s role is to help others understand and manage that loss.

We have only our actions and our interactions. That is how we bring about change. That is how our change will be judged. Ends don’t justify means. The means are a key part of the change.

Change agents can and do wish it were different. Keeping reflections like these ever in mind helps us to avoid the disillusionment that comes along with unmet expectations and unfulfilled wishes. Change agents are pragmatic and realise that little changes without the hard work to make change happen.

The Leverage of the Change Agent

Give me a lever and a place to stand and I shall move the earth – Archimedes

There’s a tiny thing on the edge of a rudder called a trim tab. Just moving that little trim tab creates a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. It takes almost no effort at all – Buckminster Fuller

Change Agents move the world to change because they understand the importance of leverage. Small actions can be leveraged into larger outcomes through their work.

barrow-454173_1920The Leverage of Purpose

Change agents take grievances, disappointments and frustrations and turn them into purposeful action. Crowds can easily share a grievance. However someone needs to help the group to turn abstract frustration into a shared purpose. Discovering that shared purpose in a group is a lever of influence and motivation that scales rapidly.

The Leverage of Networks

Change agents understand that networks are extraordinary ways to scale their influence. They can connect with likeminded individuals, share information, solve challenges and develop new ways of working. The network expands the influence of the change agent across their organisation and across the world.

The Leverage of Role Modelling

Change agents do. Change agents understand that the most effective way to lead change is to show others change is possible through action. For every role model there are thousands of eyes in networks who can be influenced to magnify the scale of the change.

The Leverage of Experimentation

Change agents take advantage of the leverage that comes with experimentation. If you do more often, you have had a greater impact. Rather than wait for the perfect information, change agents experiment to learn and create an example for others.  Experimentation enables networks to scale beyond individual expertise and accelerate learning and change.

The Leverage of Tension

Change agents create tension. For many organisations, the existence of people pushing for change creates tension that focuses new attention on the need to change. Creating and shaping tensions in the organisation is a role that change agents play to create the ‘low pressure’ pull through the resulting focus, discomfort and action.

The Leverage of Generosity

Change agents give because a culture of giving expands influence. Working out loud with a generous intent, giving of their time and effort to help others or focusing on the needs of others are highly effective ways to move change forward and set an example that encourages others to do the same.

How is your organisation leveraging its change agents to create needed change?

Simon Terry is a Charter Member of Change Agents Worldwide, a network of progressive and passionate professionals specialising in future of work technologies and practices. If you would like to understand how you can better leverage your role as a change agent or the change agents in your organisation, get in touch with Change Agents Worldwide.

The Fabulous Cannon Of Aha: You Should Know…Lois Kelly

In Change Agents Worldwide, we had a conversation thread recently about how we talk about each other, so that others might know us betterLois Kelly and I agreed to correspond. Now, I have never met Lois in person. So what am I to suppose?

Well, importantly, and this is pivotal to the ideas of social business practice, I do know her through the network, through others with whom I have high trust relationships. This trust, and the value one puts into it, passes between network nodes like a genetic marker. It resonates.

Honestly, this network value is enough for me to say I value Lois. It is an automatic recommendation. But what happens when I dig a little deeper?

Before our video meeting, I clicked her avatar and profile page in our Change Agents network. Immediately, I get something more, partially by what is left out.

There is a close up headshot photo of her welcoming smile and her kind eye (singular). Her photo is cut in half, we see one the right side of her face. This I like, because it makes me wonder: what else? What is out of frame, awaiting discovery?

This resonates. I have long used an avatar of the top half of my face, eyes looking up, searching for something. It is the look of wondering, of seeking and creativity. This is how I hope people see me.

Then there is her “descriptor”: Creatively uncovering, communicating possibilities.

Sure, I’m buying. 

In VUCA times, possibilities are all that are available to us. It is a great place to aim for. I am distrusting of those who have answers all the time. I do know that Lois is a driving force behind Rebels at Work, and I have read a lot of that team’s writing, used quotes in presentations, and been inspired by the simple, direct ideals.Her brief bio includes:

The answers are found by listening and discovering in new ways, with unusual questions.

Lois’ website even has a section called #365questions  – she clearly doesn’t lack for inquiry!

So, I have a start, and plenty of holes. What is missing, what is just out of shot? Turns out, plenty enough for one hour of video chat!

We are all multifaceted, there is always more to us than anyone can know. We should be careful to boil someone down to the bare essentials. So, I shall share what I feel about Lois’ competitive advantage – what I sensed in her that is rare compared to all the other geniuses out there in the world.

I am always looking for a balance in people, how they manage the necessary tension in being multi-dimensional, how they hold themselves in the dance of dichotomy. For me, Lois’ tension is between rebelliousness toward, and relevance to, corporate audiences.

I am naturally attracted to the rebellious side. What’s not to love about someone who

“gets shot out of a cannon every morning”!?

That is a simple enough reason to say “I like you!” Her Rebels @ Work driver is such personal work for her – she has been charging into work for her entire career asking “Why don’t we do it that/this way?”

Early on in her career, that creative, exuberant approach got her into tight spots, stepping on (or maybe laying) landmines, until a senior leader told her, “Get revenue attached to your ideas, and you will be successful.” Madison Avenue beckoned, and the rest is (her) history (to tell).

So, here we have an ideas person. I meet plenty of those, always interesting, often marginalized. Lois is different. She is relevant. She understands organizational politics, she knows when to push and prompt, and when to wait and encourage emergence.

emergence

She can act as an external rebel and she can work to cultivate the internal rebels to develop the processes need for change.  Importantly, she reads the executive to see if they want to engage in the profound underpinning discussions of change or if they want to keep things simple.

Often, the intellectual, challenging conversations (the ones practitioners cherish) will ‘bore them to death.’ So she instead works to unlock the ‘one thing to do to get things moving.’

She leans on her studies of positive psychology and behavioural science – 95% of our decision-making is managed in our sub-conscious, so unlocking that understanding allows leaders to have better conversations about why they like what they like and want what they want.

This search for, and understanding of, relevance in the workplace led her to write a 2005 book (on what we might today call “social business”, among many contentious monikers for the workplace changes we see happening in the 21st century,) about “Conversational Marketing.”

Making it safe for leaders to investigate emergent practices and ready themselves for change, one step at a time, is prescient. Many contemporary #SocBiz visionaries struggle to make their views coherent enough for big business to buy. Lois has it down.

This ying-yang of rebel and relevance is a beautiful thing to observe. It ebb and flows so naturally in conversation, it is a lullaby for change. Is that balance, that interplay, her natural genius? Possibly. But she is also a constant learner too, she is never satisfied that she is done. Hers is a work in progress.

I will finish with a weird and whimsical image, one which I hope Lois will enjoy. If it is spot on, then she takes the acclaim as someone who shares creatively and naturally. If it is off mark, put it down to my active imagination that she was able to stir quite delightfully in a video chat hour that flew by.

On her website she lists a passion for uncovering “aha.” It conjured for me an image of the Fabulous Cannon of Aha, with Lois, smiling wryly, lighting the torch paper. The customer has three choices at the start of every day:

  • Lois can fire you from the cannon,
  • you can fire her from the cannon, or
  • you can both be fired from the cannon, and she will hold your hand the whole way.

The choice is yours! But here’s the thing: no matter which choice, it will work and it will be fun.

In the person-to-person economy, really knowing people is critical. You should know Lois Kelly. And here are two other people you should know…Simon Terry; and Richard Martin.

This post first appeared on the ←This Much We Know.→ blog.

How a possibility hunter thinks

1

What makes Change Agent Worldwide members tick? Lois Kelly interviews Jonathan Anthony.

I’ve had a crush on Ben Franklin for a long time. I named a company after one of his experiments, (Thunder House), my office is in the former 1772 bookstore and printing press of one of his protégées, his Junto inspired my long-running book club.

Thinker, creator, writer, experimenter, activist, diplomat, conversationalist, risk taker, and passionate advocate of free speech. This guy wasn’t interested so much in what was, but what could be. He pushed thinking to the edge with an innate sense of wonder and curiosity. Most of all, he made things happen.

So when I met Jonathan Anthony, a fellow Change Agent Worldwide member, via video call, I thought, “Wow, he’s like a modern day Ben Franklin with a cool accent.” (Jonathan grew up in Britain.)

(Note: if you’re part of fascinating online social networks give yourself a treat and hop on a video call to really get to know interesting people. It’s like a runner’s high without the first mile of pain, and you’ll learn something surprising.) 

A voracious reader, learner, writer, and participant in diverse social networks inside and outside his company, Jonathan sees emerging patterns early on, “translates” what these might mean to business, and then pulls his company to the edge of that big trend. He shows people what’s possible before that possibility has entered the zeitgeist.

Jonathan is a possibility hunter.

“I drive ideas to the edge, ideas that are way too big for the organization. I go big because the organization will always push back and make the thinking smaller,” he explains. “The edge is a renewal process for any organization. Ideas on the edge eventually becoming the center.”

He’s able to create that healthy creative tension because he’s good at reading people and his Spidey Senses help him understand how to navigate within the organization.

“As a corporate intrapreneur and change agent you can’t just be smart,” he says. “You have to have a feel for the organization – and map new ideas to the environment. Having thick skin, being OK with ‘no,’ and a healthy self-esteem also help.”

Jonathan has worked in Vancouver for Teekay Corporation for nine years. His title is director of corporate communications, though what he does goes far beyond that traditional title. He is strategist, activist, scientist, artist, imagineer.

Most of all he is a giver, generously offering ideas to people in our Change Agents Worldwide community, inviting his team to think bigger, and guiding  his company’s leaders out to the edge of possibility where the air is fresh and the views are both expansive and majestic.

Inside the mind of a possibility hunter

What were you like as a child?

Totally certain of myself, smart, fun, annoying, but interesting.

What are your most distinctive character strengths?

Ability to read people and situations.

What is your favorite word about work?

Act.

What is your least favorite word about work?

Process.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally about your work?

The power of networks.

What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally about work?

Process. Same old, same old.

What sound or noise at work do you love?

Hearing my team talking out loud about their work, and about what they’re hearing and learning on Yammer.

What sound or noise at work do you hate?

The phone ringing. It’s almost always a cold call from marketers.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Video artist.

You can connect with Jonathan @ThisMuchWeKnow and on his blog: This Much We Know. 

The Great Change Agent Controversy

tumblr_static_2064Ok, so perhaps it’s not a controversy but Liz Ryan’s recent article in Forbes entitled, “Don’t Hire A ‘Change Agent’ — And Don’t Be One” has stirred up some passions in the circles I travel in, particularly within the Change Agents Worldwide community for obvious reasons. It has led to excellent rebuttals by fellow Change Agents (I wear that badge proudly) Jennifer Frahm (on LinkedIn), and Heather Stagl (via her blog), and probably more to come.

Despite disagreeing with most of Liz Ryan’s piece, I have to preface this by saying that I have a lot of respect for her, having followed her writing for a long time. She regularly shares excellent thought leadership on how to change our workplaces and management practices from the cold, machine-like model of the Industrial era to more human-focused ones. In fact – dare I say it – I consider her a Change Agent in her own right! Which is precisely why I found this piece so out of character.

Let me start with what she gets right. “If you really want change, then the change has to start at the top,” Ms. Ryan writes. You won’t find many change management practitioners arguing with this statement. For traditional top-down companies (an important caveat in a world that is seeing the rise of more and more non-traditional companies, e.g. holocracies) this is indeed the best way to make change happen. I won’t say ‘only way,’ since grass root, bottom-up efforts that influence the top are possible, just much less likely in rigid hierarchies.

But the operative term in her statement is “start at the top”. While change should start with the CEO (or division president or any leader of a unit that can make significant decisions without going higher up the chain), it doesn’t begin and end with her. Unless you’re talking about very small companies, today’s organizations are too big and too complex to let the responsibility for change sit only with the CEO/leader.

To agree with the argument in the Forbes piece, Ms. Ryan is asking her readers to make a considerable leap of faith between the point at which a CEO arrives at the decision to implement change and when the desire to go with that change actually takes hold of employees. Her assertion is that once a leader shifts their view (and listens to the calls for change coming from others), there is no need for Change Agents because suddenly “everybody is in the same groove” – as if the calls for change they listened to represent the universal desires of all employees! Anyone who has spent time in a large corporate environment knows that nothing is further from the truth.

Competing strategies, varied approaches to common issues, budget battles and more abound in large companies. These can all play havoc with a CEO’s change initiative. But more than these largely political games, the real fears and anxieties of employees who will be on the receiving end of the change, whether warranted or not, are what will derail even the efforts with the best of intentions. Employee concerns don’t just magically disappear because the CEO’s got her groove on!

If the CEO and the leadership team want the effort to succeed they better be prepared to focus on the people side of change, which means taking employees by the hand and leading them through the change process, which involves a lot more than selling an initiative. It’s one thing to create the desire in people to want to change to a new way of doing things and another to enable them to do that by helping them obtain the abilities needed to thrive in the new environment, i.e. new process, system, structure, policy, etc. CEOs and leadership teams alone can’t possibly do all of this, nor should they. They should set the right tone and help engender a change-ready environment through communications and sponsorship activities. Anything more is welcome, but not practical in our busy organizations. This is where Change Agents can play a vital role, by being the guiding hand that leads a cautious and stressed employee through the chasm of change and into a (hopefully) better place.

Change Agents inside of companies can take the form of both skilled change managers knowledgeable of the complexities of change, and enthusiastic employees (usually those who have made the leap on their own) embedded in the business that can provide the employee perspective and needed subject matter expertise (as related to the organization’s work). Both are needed since formal change managers can’t personally guichange-agent-badgede everyone. They need to rely on “deputized change agents” (or project advocates) who know and can empathize with the impacted staff. The combination of both types, executed within the framework of well thought-out “change platform” (a topic for another day), provides the support, assistance, and community environment needed for employees to collectively embrace a change.

That’s how I like to think of Change Agents. Not the Mafioso-type “corporate muscle” that Liz Ryan implied in her piece. They are not “footman” or “flunkies” for CEOs. Change Agents are generally passionate employees who care about their colleagues (or clients in the case of change consultants) and have a strong desire to help them through difficult periods.

Change Agents don’t push other people’s agendas or try to sell corporate initiatives like a Used Car Salesman. Instead, they gravitate towards those projects that they feel will make a difference for their organizations and for the good people working side by side with them in the trenches of corporate life.

Change Agents can see what a CEO cannot and use that perspective to lead change from within.

Change Agents don’t blindly follow agendas; they rally people around a shared purpose and show them how the change is aligned with it.

Change Agents operate from a position of trust (which, ironically, is what Liz Ryan says is the only way to push a strategy through), rather than fear.

You can find people in companies that do what Liz Ryan has described in her piece, but one thing’s for sure…they aren’t Change Agents.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being [a Network]

Like an amoeba, networks have the resiliency to change their shape at will.
Like an amoeba, networks have the resiliency to change their shape at will.

When we launched Change Agents Worldwide back in January 2013, we wanted to experiment with a new kind of organizational model.  We wanted to create a commercial enterprise that was effectively, a network.  Many of our original charter members saw the efficacy of working together in an egalitarian system of shared values and were eager to experiment with new ways of working.

Over the course of time, we shape-shifted on our original business model, yet still retained the values that brought us together originally.  Of course, the network gained new nodes and lost nodes, but in balance, our members are still tightly aligned inside and outside on the social web in philosophy and practice.

As the key founder and “big idea” conceiver originally behind Change Agents Worldwide, I have taken immense pride in the work all our Change Agents have contributed to growing our brand and achieving the worldwide recognition we now enjoy today.  Over the summer of 2014, I decided to turn my attention to using this newfound knowledge to solve an important societal problem.  With that decision, I realized we needed to reshuffle the back-office deck within the network in order to continue our journey.

Our founders met in January 2015 to discuss a few new models for the company going forward. Simon Terry, one of our partners, presented an interesting new model for the business going forward that we all loved.  We came to an agreement as the original partners to transfer ownership of Change Agents Worldwide to Simon Terry, as a result.

Simon has demonstrated an uncanny ability to take these new messages about working in a network, succeeding as a leader in the network era, and how organizations can benefit at every level of the maturity scale by working socially to a whole new dimension.  All of us who originally conceived Change Agents Worldwide are thrilled to see Simon put his energy behind the brand and continue to bring our story to an international audience.

The best news is – we are a network.  We’re not going anywhere.  All the founders, charter members, new members are still an active part of Change Agents Worldwide.  Wiser, older, stronger, and looking to the future.  You might say, we are under new “un” management.

Congrats Simon from all of us!  

Leadership in Transformation

flash-55045_640 A common topic of debate in the Responsive Organization movement is whether an organization can become responsive or it must be born that way.

Undoubtedly many of the leading case studies of future of work organizations are organizations created or rebirthed from near death by charismatic founders. Some use this as evidence that the elements of a responsive organization must be present from the beginning. In a previous post, I pointed out that we cannot rely on transparency alone to make change occur for us. The power structures in a traditional organization will prevent most radical change.

I am unambiguously in the optimist camp here in Change Agents Worldwide and the company in the optimist camp inspires me. I have seen organizations change enough to not recognise their former selves. Change to more responsive ways of working is possible. The question is how.

What gets in the way

Chris Argyris’ classic article Teaching Smart People to Learn is a rich source of observations of what gets in the way of a Responsive Organization transformation.  In particular, Argyris notes that:

… There seems to be a universal human tendency to design one’s actions consistently according to four basic values:

1. To remain in unilateral control;

2. To maximize “winning” and minimize “losing”;

3. To suppress negative feelings; and

4. To be as “rational” as possible—by which people mean defining clear objectives and evaluating their behavior in terms of whether or not they have achieved them.

The purpose of all these values is to avoid embarrassment or threat, feeling vulnerable or incompetent. In this respect, the master program that most people use is profoundly defensive. Defensive reasoning encourages individuals to keep private the premises, inferences, and conclusions that shape their behavior and to avoid testing them in a truly independent, objective fashion.

These hidden values in most organisation get in the way of the transparency-led transformation that many hope to see. The Responsive Organization poses a threat to control, a threat of losing and negative feelings. Importantly the delegation of authority in a Responsive Organization may cause people anxiety as to objectives and rationale for action.

The role of leadership is to act as a counterbalance these natural human values and shift the behaviours to that of a Responsive Organization. We need to create rationales for action more powerful than embarrassment. We need to create community to generate trust, support and connection. We need to enable learning through conflict and experimentation.

Purpose:

Leaders must create a strong rationale for the transformation. In cases of crisis, startup or near death of organizations, this rationale can often be imposed by a charismatic individual. The external circumstances enable a threat-based narrative to bind people together in a defensive rationale for change.

However, most organizations are successful to their own terms. As Argyris notes, we want to feel successful even if our results don’t pass external muster.

Leaders need to leverage two elements to create a strong rationale for change in this context:

  • The Purpose of the organization: a purpose is the ultimate rationale for why people come together in an endeavour. It defines the common impact the group of people wish to have on the world.  As a higher agenda, it is the perfect rationale for change for even the most successful organizations.  Purpose is a mastery quest. Very few organizations have the capability to completely fulfil their purpose. They can however strive to better realise it.
  • External orientation: No closed system will find a rationale for change. External orientation is where organizations find the challenges and opportunities that define the purpose into specific improvement opportunities. Leaders need to relentlessly focus the organization on its customers and community to see transparently the challenges and opportunities that exist for change. Well defined external impacts in this community will be what can drive the autonomy of teams in the organization.  Using customer and community data in line with Purpose, also enables change agents to overcome embarrassment-based resistance in the organization.

Community:

Individuals will need support to take on the risks of a Responsive Organization. The role of leaders is to create the sense of community that will support an individual through that change. At the heart of that community will be engagement with others and a growing sense of mutual trust.  Leaders set the tone for any community. They must also work hard to reinforce these key community behaviours

  • Engagement: Engagement begins with transparency and connection. I cannot truly care about the others in my community until I know who they are and understand their purposes, concerns and circumstances. Leaders need to create the conditions to enable people to be more social, to connect, to solve and to share their work challenges together.
  • Trust: Engagement will build trust as it builds understanding. Transparency will reinforce trust. However, leaders need to take on the role of fostering responsibility and accountability as engines of growing trust in the organization.  When people see that individuals and teams are accountable for driving change then they will have greater trust in the change agenda.

Learning:

This post is deliberately not titled like a listicle e.g. ’The 3 or 6 things to transform an organization’. Even a basic familiarity with change highlights that formulas will work only up to a point. Leadership needs to be adaptive to enable any system to change in a sustainable way.

To be true to their purpose and stakeholders, to leverage the potential of their community, each organization will take an unique path through change.  The role of leaders is facilitate the individual and organizational learning required:

  • Experimentation: creating a culture of rapid iteration to address challenges and opportunities will accelerate the cycle of learning in the organization. Leaders must help this experimentation culture to overcome the resistance identified by Argyris and also to spread and have a wider influence in the organization. Lessons learned must become new truths which will take a sense-making role for leaders in the wider organization and mean leaders must champion new ways of working when they arise, whatever the personal costs.
  • Conflict: The biggest reason that organisational transformations fail is an unwillingness of the leadership of the organization to allow uncertainty and conflict. Conflict will happen. The uncertainty associated with conflict is inevitable. Efforts to suppress this will either undermine transparency, the rationale for change, engagement or learning. Failure to embrace conflict takes many names: politeness, bureaucracy, politics, corporate speak, history, culture, etc. Failure to embrace conflict is an unwillingness to learn and improve. There will always be resistance when change comes and it must be addressed. Leaders need to create and sustain the right kinds of constructive conflict – driven by purpose, based in facts from an external orientation & experimentation, mediated through an engaged community.

Change is Coming. Lead.

I have seen the potential of purpose, external orientation, engagement, trust experimentation and conflict to drive change. Supported by leadership these are the elements of each organisation’s transformation. These elements are critical to a Responsive Organization.

Throughout this post I have referred to leaders and leadership. This need not be hierarchical leadership. Change takes change agents. Clearly it helps if leadership and power are aligned in an organization in reinforcing the need for change. However, the changes described above are not capable of being implemented by top-down edicts. These changes must come as individuals and groups discover their power and are influenced as a result, This kind of leadership relies on influence and can begin bottom up or even from the middle management so often scorned in organizations.

Change is possible. Change is coming. Smart people can learn. Your people and your organisation can better realise their potential and their purpose. A Responsive Organization transformation will occur if you are prepared to lead the change.

Lead.

This post was first posted on simonterry.tumblr.com

 

What Does it Mean to be a Change Agent?

Over the summer, our network went through some rocky reverberations.  Conversations cropped up that forced us to think carefully about what we’re attempting to do here at Change Agents Worldwide.  The process, although difficult, was healthy, sobering… cleansing.

We divided into three international regional teams and set about to examine who we are and what we’re interested in achieving.  Key to that introspection was a focused exploration into our values.  Individually, every professional executes against personal goals and ambitions, but collectively – within the network – we needed to capture the essence of what it means to be a change agent in our network.  Scripting our values became the pedestal upon which we’d build a new business model that served our greater purpose.  As a startup, we’d been experimenting with a new model for management consulting.  The disruptive nature of what we were attempting to do, combined with competing ideas of how to go to market, resulted in difficulty convincing potential clients and network members to embrace the new model.  It was obvious we were headed for that dreaded startup pivot, yet we resolutely agreed we would not pivot on our values or what we wanted to achieve.  We, in the purist sense, meant everyone in the network.  Not just the founders, everyone.  At Change Agents Worldwide, every individual has an equal voice and the ability to course correct, question, or object to any aspect of our business.

From the very beginning,  we’ve been focused on a single goal: to Change the World of Work. It occurred to us that although there are many thought leaders in and around the social web who believe the same things we do, and who teach, write, and speak brilliantly about these same concepts, they may not self-identify as a change agent.  Going forward, we agreed we needed to create a manifesto, a credo that would define uniquely what we believe and who we are as participants in the network.  We crowdsourced this credo over a period of weeks.  From here, we’ve crafted a refreshed understanding of who we serve, how we will serve them, and who rightfully belongs as a member of our network.  Every existing member of our network signed the credo.  And going forward, signing the credo is part of our on-ramping process.

If you see yourself in the description above, consider joining us.  We have an incredible team working on leading-edge projects and breakthrough ideas in some of the largest institutions in the world. We are, in fact, changing the world of work every day.   In subsequent posts, I’ll be writing about some of those advancements and achievements.  There’s never been a better time to be a Change Agent in our network.

 

Change Agents Go to Washington!

b4fszcDrowning in paperwork?  Demoralized by endless meetings where you sit and sit and sit, and have no voice?  Tired of performance management reviews that have little to do with your potential or passion?   Frustrated by knowledge that buries itself in graveyards of  email thread coffins?

Then, we have a workshop for you.  Come get rejuvenated in November and learn how your work experience can be joyful, interesting, and rewarding.  Changing behaviors at work is challenging, but results in greater productivity, innovation, job satisfaction, and loyalty.

For the first time, a crack team of our Change Agents will descend from the cloud and lead you through a discussion of how you too can “work in the future.”

Where:  KMWorld 2014, Grand Hyatt, Washington D.C.

When: November 4, Tuesday morning, 2014

Workshop Description:

W9: Flexible & Agile Workstyles & Processes for the 21st Century Organization
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 

Susan Scrupski, Change Agents Worldwide
Joachim Stroh, Change Agent, Change Agents Worldwide
Catherine Shinners, Founder, Merced Group
Carrie Young, Principal, Talk Social To Me

 

The Future is already here and evenly distributed among the global members of the Change Agents Worldwide (CAWW) network. This half day workshop shares their secrets: how they work, their values, how they adopt/adapt/exapt new ways of working with their global team. A team of Change Agents discuss leading organizational concepts such as: new models for organizational design, the power of self-organization, social and organizational network analysis, and more. They’ll talk about the cornerstone of what makes their networked organization work: transparency, trust, authenticity, and a culture of sharing and cooperation. The CAWW network exemplifies how social and operational integration yields iterative improvements in responding to customers, working collaboratively with partners, and creating value in the marketplace. The workshop also talks about what supports their work: SWARMS, Pods, Cookie Jars, Green Rooms, and other new processes based on agile and self-organizing principles.

The workshop will review our philosophical principles, explain the practical application of these principles and demonstrate how they’re exercised in a network-based organization.  We’ll also lead audience members through a series of hands-on exercises to experiment with putting these ideas into practice.  It will be an interactive day of learning and sharing. We’re looking forward to cooperating and collaborating with new friends of the Change Agents Worldwide network.

We have a special conference registration discount for anyone wishing to attend KMWorld 2014 too. The discount will get you $100 off the early-bird rate and $200 off the regular rate.  Please let us know if you’re headed to KMWorld in the comments.  See you there!

Smarter Innovation: Road Map to the Future

Last spring, we were approached by the Academic Director of Columbia University’s Graduate Information and Strategy program, Katrina Pugh.  She had received word about the innovative way our Change Agents work out loud in the cloud.  We were asked to contribute to a management book published recently by ARK Group, “Smarter Innovation: Using Interactive Processes to Drive Better Business Results.”

The goal of the book is to shed light on insights that have been growing in our knowledge space – tacit knowledge sharing, conversations, collective intelligence, applied analytics – but which have never been wrapped together in a coherent way to address such as pressing problem. As our global economy steps out of its long slumber, it will be the innovators who expand opportunity and prosperity for their employees, customers and societies.  – Kate Pugh

smarterOur chapter in the book resides within the topic focusing on social and operational integration.  We go into great detail about how we work, our values, our innovative business practices, and the strength of our network-based decision-making when it comes to modern organizational design and methods.  Authored primarily by three of our Change Agents, but collaborated on by our whole team, the chapter defines how Change Agents Worldwide “works.”  And, of course, the way we work is a reflection of how our network wants to work.  Every change agent in our network believes in the principles we espouse, so it should come as no surprise that we actually work this way.

The book is fascinating. It’s available today on the ARK Group web site.  Contributions by leading consultants and thought leaders who hail from Columbia, Deloitte, Emory University, 3M, Motorola, Pfizer, Intel, and many others have presented cutting-edge examples of how large and small companies are innovating with customer service, supplier intelligence, sales, knowledge retention and discovery, inventory, and open patent alternatives.

If you just want to read our chapter, Innovation by Design, you can download it today from our web site.  For all of those who’ve pre-ordered the chapter on our web site, you will be receiving a notification shortly that it’s available for download.

Feel free to download our first e-book as well, Changing the World of Work.  One Human at a Time.  We are currently working on new book ideas, so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter list to keep up with our new products and services.  Lots of good stuff coming from our worldwide team of Change Agents.