Graham Edwards in Leadership, Directors and Executives, Entrepreneurs Consulting Principal • GPEStratagem Sep 23, 2016 · 2 min read · 1.3K

I think I'm a Change Agent... just damn.

Two independent, but related events happened over the past week that got me to thinking... they both involve the term "Change Agent"

I think I'm a Change Agent... just damn.

I was writing a blog post on Amanda Palmer and out of nowhere found myself typing the words "Change Agent", and this made me feel funny somehow. A couple of days later I was helping a friend solve a problem with a PowerPoint presentation and her new Mac; somewhere in the conversation she called me a "Change Agent"

To that I paused, felt funny, and corrected her by saying, "No I am not. I am just adaptable."

This did give me the idea to have some fun and write about Change Agents and create a fictitious spy agency featuring a bunch of "Archers"* all leading the charge for change, reporting to a father figure named "Chief"**, and going to all the best parties - Sounded like some good fun, and I do love change! It turned out that it was a painful chore, as I found there was always a block as I typed away; it was that funny feeling again. 

With my desire to get this posted, I figuratively looked in the mirror and whispering, "Ya I know, I'm a Change Agent... just damn" ***. It was a conflicted acknowledgement, and why the reticence you may ask? 

See being a Change Agent is all about "living in the contradiction". 

On one hand, intellectually we know survival is all about changing, evolving, adapting, and is something visionary leaders love to do... but on the other hand, deep down most of us, many of us, almost all of us, don't like change, ambivalence, or the perceived loss of control. We want the predictable because it offers a sense of security, control and safety; hence the contradiction. 

People love the concept of Change Agents but really don't want them at the "party"; they ultimately make the party list but are relegated to standing in the corner eating cocktail wiener doodles. 

I bet if you Google "Change Agent" you will get a definition something like this - "Someone who can envision the need for change and has the ability to execute on it. Usually enabled with competencies such as resource management, operational understanding and execution, strong networking abilities, influencing skills as well as intuitive leadership. (many times without a title of influence)".

Let me also add, and it goes without saying, Change Agents have a very high tolerance for change, emotionally embrace it, can operate in ambivalence and probably like being a bit of a contrarian. And by necessity, to be a good Change Agent "ya' gotta be different"

So lucky fucking me, because deep down I really do want to make it onto the A party list and not stand in the corner. Being a Change Agent seems to be more of a calling (than an agency) and it takes you places that others tend not to go, or at least resist (sometimes with great drama). 

I guess that is who I am.

Again, we all know why we dislike change... it is not my purpose to offer any lofty position on the subject other than to say it is simply not something that bothers me; I will admit sometimes it's "inconvenient", but as "god is my witness" it's not something I fear or even uncomfortable with. And here is the simple reason... change brings opportunity.

This is my advice... stop looking at change as a bad thing because the situation will become a self fulfilling prophecy and you will miss the opportunity.

I have attached the "Who moved my Cheese" video; check it out as is is worth the 17 minutes - I love this story and share it when the "Topic of Change" comes up. (it' a great little book to hand out to people when change is "afoot")

I think I'm a Change Agent... just damn.

If I can ask two things of you, remember change truly leads to opportunity, and try to get us on the A party list as I understand the cocktail wiener doodles are the best.


Archer is an American adult animated television series created by Adam Reed that follows the exploits of a secret agent.

** The  Chief was the head of CONTROL played by Edward Platt in the TV series GET SMART. (a classic)

*** Originally I said "I think I'm a Change Agent...just fuck" but calmed it down a bit for this post.

Graham Edwards 26/9/2016 · #4

#2 Thanks for the comment @CityVP Manjit. I really like the Tolsty quote. Maybe all of my commentary is really about adaption to change which to your point, is part of the human condition and how we interpret the world as it just keeps " spinnin' ".

Graham Edwards 26/9/2016 · #3

#1 Thanks for the comment @Renée Cormier. The best formula for selling change is "Transparency, honesty and empathy". This is leadership led and culturally driven. I agree that not everyone will appreciate the opportunity that can come with it but it is there... it will take a shift in perspective to see it, particularly if someone is comfortable with what they have. What does this look like? Regular communication, town halls, answering difficult questions in open forum so everyone can experience the answer and defuse the ideas of "conspiracy", increased 1:1s ... and most importantly, identify opportunities for people to consider.
Hope this helps.

+1 +1
CityVP Manjit 24/9/2016 · #2

My defacto position is "plod along, keep doing what you are doing, pass another day, remain blissfully ignorant of our social conditioning, be nice followers, entertain yourself a little, gobble food at gobble time, chat the way you want to chat, and entertain your basic primal desires while you deny them with either an indoctrinated self-created taboo's and if this way of life begin to bore you, call yourself a change agent and change absolutely nothing, other than what would have already changed with or without you"

Once I understand the full implication of this defacto position, I can push all of that to one side and now examine what is then left over to examine. That which exists beyond this defacto position, is the good stuff. Why beat my head continually against the defacto concrete wall, when I can see through walls with adaptive disposition? "Change Agent" is what others apply as a label when the reality of change is that it is the one ever constant aspect of time and life. The kind of change we don't see is happening at every micro-second inside our own bodies to begin with, never mind the non-static nature of the neurons in our head.

Cue Leo Tolstoy

Am I a change agent or am I simply living and experiencing and thinking in the natural constancy of change? The latter is called a human being, the former is a projection that we hold a secret about change that nature cannot and does not know or change BS.

+1 +1
Renée Cormier 23/9/2016 · #1

Nice post, @Graham Edwards. What would you say are the best ways to sell organizational change to others? Change brings opportunities, but not everyone in an organization will appreciate that, nor will everyone be given the opportunity to be the best they can be.