Lessons learned – Change Agents

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Working with a new group of Change Agents last week, I thought I would share their lessons learned.

Lesson 1 – Relationships

First big surprise for many of them as the week unfolded was the realisation that whilst it is called “change management” don’t assume the word management means process.

As one of them said to me, change management is more of an art than a science because it is all about people.

So the first big takeaway is that core to our success is the ability to persuade others. In turn, this requires us to build trusting relationships where we demonstrate empathy for their viewpoint and help them discover the impact and benefits of the change so they are willing to work differently.

Lesson 2 – Motivation

The next big takeaway was the importance of intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivators (rewards and punishments) still have their part to play but they are the support act.

The main event is the development of a deep seated desire by those impacted to want to change. We used Dan Pinks work on intrinsic motivation to get our thinking started. We talked about the inter-dependencies between purpose, autonomy and mastery.

To establish purpose we used lots of techniques including Force Field Analysis to help those impacted vent their frustrations about the difficulties and problems associated with the change.

This gives people a chance to “clear the decks” emotionally before seeking out the benefits, improvements and advantages of the change that we as Change Agents will continually need to remind them of as the journey towards full adoption of the change.

We examined the concepts of autonomy and mastery by playing games to discover our own preferences for how we like to work. This gave us insight into how we all approach the same task differently, and how we feel motivated if we are allowed to do things our way and how we feel demotivated if we have to follow instructions from others about how we work.

Lesson 3 – Building a community

Finally we identified the need for a network of committed and energetic people to take the change forward. As Change Agents we recognised the importance of helping to build this network by seeking out natural influencers who others follow as a way of amplifying our messages about change by having these people communicate either followers.

We discovered how much effort is required to build this network, constantly seeking out relevant people and developing them into a community who work together, support each other and innovate together to make the change a reality.


We only scratched the surface of the importance of the role of Change Agent last week.

In our next get together we are going to deepen understanding by studying for the APMG Change Management Foundation qualification. This is because the group recognise the importance of building their credibility with those they seek to influence. Having a globally recognised qualification demonstrates to others you know what you are talking about and gives you an inner glow of confidence which is especially important when resistors to change make you question what you are doing.

Wish us luck for our next adventures in change, and if you want to get qualified quickly join my next APMG Change course.