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What Do You Consider A Change Agent?

Whenever I’ve encountered someone who self-identifies themselves as a ‘change agent,’ I grow concerned.

It’s one thing to have someone call you a ‘change agent’ and quite another in my opinion to call yourself that. Mainly because it means that you seek to change things that weren’t your ideas.

Granted, there are always issues that can be corrected. There are always processes which don’t work and the mantra ‘we’ve always done it this way’ is never a good one to start off with.

But sometimes, the best managers recognize certain policies and processes that existed prior to their arrival. So they keep them because they aren’t threatened by the notion that whomever did the job prior wasn’t a boob.

That doesn’t happen with self-identifying ‘change agents.’

Self-identifying ‘change agents’ tend to see everything that came before them as a threat. There is an assumption that, regardless of the success of the product or process, it will be discarded upon impulse simply to change it.

That isn’t the nature of a true change agent, who evaluates each product and process to see what isn’t working, then scraps the garbage to form new ideas.

I’ve always gotten the sense from self-identifying ‘change agents’ that they really aren’t ‘change agents’ but fearful people. The type that can’t handle their fingerprints on every process or product, no matter how successful it was as working.

This type of thinking is both costly and dangerous. Especially if companies are giving up on product lines which are working, trashing them simply to empower some ‘change agent’ ego.

A true change agent is a dynamic person, who can handle criticism and seeks out to develop what really is needed in order to improve processes.

A self-identifying ‘change agent’ just rides the coattails of the moniker and rarely lives up to the hype as they’re being exited out the door six months later when all of their changes cost the company way too much money to overlook.

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