Principles for Change Agents - Part 2

As I said in Part 1, I have been a gatherer of good principles for managing change. Some of the maxims are common wisdom, others I can attribute to individuals whose work has had a direct influence on me. Here are a few more that have helped me to think differently about my work.

Get the whole system in the room - The credit for this one goes to Marv Weisbord, the author of the classic book Productive Workplaces. In his journey from business owner to OD Guru, Marv learned a lot about human systems and how to change them. One of Marv's insights was that change in an organization is possible if you get the right people into the room. Who are the right people? Anyone who is part of the process you want to change. If any key party is forgotten or missing, the entire effort will suffer.

People support what they help to create - This one comes from Meg Wheatley who has taught us that change is made possible when the people who will be most impacted by it are invited into the process of making the change. Invite and involve. Foster and facilitate participation.

The wisdom is in the people - In her book Sharing Wisdom, Sr. Mary Benet McKinney teaches that change is possible if you listen to the wisdom of the people who make up the group or organization. Sr. Mary says that whenever an organization is endeavoring to discern the "right" path or course of action to take, share wisdom.

It's a discernment process, of getting to the "right" path. Sharing wisdom is based upon several underlying beliefs including one that says that the people in the organization already possess the wisdom to discern the "right" path. Trouble is, no one individual has all the wisdom (though some may think that they do).

What is needed is respectful facilitation that seeks out everyone's "piece of the wisdom" and puts all the pieces on the table, even if there is conflict and disagreement.

Whenever there is a need for change, share wisdom with one another. The answers they seek are already there. The wisdom is in them. You need to patiently facilitate the sharing of the group's wisdom, hearing from each person.

All the wisdom is needed, all the wisdom is honored.

So, how about you? What principles have guided you as a change agent?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Friday July 27, 2012


Two great lists of principles for Change Agents! Such principles spotlight the level of responsibility an individual assumes when and acting as a change agent...whether "directing" change toward an individual, team, or organization.

Perhaps "recognizing and acknowledging the impact and influence one has on others when acting as a change agent" should be a guiding tenet for all change agents.

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