Couros (2013) in his blog describes change agents as “People who act as catalysts for change…”. He further lists five characteristics that change agents embody: they have a clear vision, they are patient yet persistent, they ask tough the questions, they are knowledgeable and lead by example and they develop strong relationships built on trust (Couros, 2013). These characteristics all help the change agent be the best person to effect the change that is sought. They are able to have foresight into the expected outcome of the anticipated change and be the voice to effectively communicate what that end goal is to be in such a way that others will be able to see it. They understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day and s it may take a while to get others to see and understand the change that is taking place and they continue to present the clear picture of the change to be effected. The change agent is not afraid to ask the questions that no one else wants to ask or maybe no one else thought of and seek an answer. They know what they are talking about and this lends a credibility to them and they have strong relationships with team members and others based on trust. Martin and Lekan also point out that change agents prepare thoroughly before embarking on a change process and this characteristic is key to their knowledge base and maintaining credibility.
Yocco (2015), on the other hand, describes five characters of innovation. The first one compatibility has to do with the degree to which individuals can assimilate the innovative idea into their lives. This can be successful when it is easy to use and on the flip side if that idea or product is not so easy to use or better than its predecessor, it will fail. The success or failure of the innovation depends on the next characteristics of complexity versus simplicity for which I will borrow the author’s excellent example of an Oreo cookie separator being so complex to set up and use correctly that it would end up being less useful than one might originally think. The innovation would need to have trialability so that potential adopters can further explore the innovation and it should have observability to allow the benefits of using it to be readily seen.
Interestingly these characteristics could all be applied to policy and policy makers. View policy as the innovation and policy makers as the change agents. Then liken change agents to any individual because in essence any one could be a change agent if they have the characteristics and the inclination to effect a change for any number of reasons. Innovation comes about because there is always more than one way to achieve a certain goal and there are people who are good at figuring these things out. So this week I’d like to leave us all with the idea that “WE” could be that change agent making that innovation that could make everyone’s goals just a bit easier.
Couros, G. (2013). 5 Characteristics of a Change Agent. Retrieved from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3615
Martin, H. & Lekan, D. (2008). Five Characteristics of an Effective Change Agent. Retrieved from http://www.oipartners.net/newsroom/articles-by-topic/leadership-articles/10-11-15/Five_Characteristics_of_an_Effective_Change_Agent.aspx
Yocco, V. (2015). Five Characteristics of an Innovation. Retrieved from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/01/29/five-characteristics-of-innovations/