While Patty has been blogging about the various roles necessary to drive corporate change, I wanted to focus in particular on the difference between change agents and owners.
The core change team will be comprised of a combination of employees who have proven credibility within the organization and are viewed as subject matter experts in their areas, as well as resources who have demonstrated the ability to lead and drive organizational change. The goal is to create a self sustaining change that will last after the core team of change agents disbands (which will happen once the change is operational).
A change agent is someone who is passionate about the vision for how the company will better serve its employees and customers after the change has taken place. The change agent is able to define and act as a champion for all of the following:
- The people changes – what different skills will be needed to implement and then continuously operate in the changed world
- The process changes – how what people do tomorrow will differ from what they do today
- The service changes – how the goods and services the company provides will change for the betterment of the company’s customers
- The technology changes – what different tools will be used to meet the company’s needs.
The change agents will be the early adopters of your new processes and/or technologies, and will be asked to provide real examples to help build the change materials for the rest of the company: templates, examples, training, encourage pilot participation, and help build communities of practice among other subject matter experts from across the company. In addition to the above characteristics, change agents must be honest about what is working (and what is not), while always staying positive about the need for the change.
Once the change becomes operational, a continuous improvement process will be put into place to ensure ongoing, closed loop feedback from all stakeholders throughout the company. At this point, the core change team will be disbanded, and all materials will be handed over to the operational owners to maintain the change. These owners will monitor the continuous improvement suggestions to make future tweaks to the people, process, service, and technology solutions, as needed.