What do Change Agents Really Want? LO5671

Scott R. Cypher (scypher@perform.vt.edu)
Fri, 16 Feb 1996 05:37:11 -0400

Replying to LO5582 --

>PMFs: What are some of the roles that the change agent can play in this

The primary job of the Change Agent is to get the job done, not to be
liked. Often that conflict (role vs. self) is the root of a change agent's
ability to be successful and produce results. Relationships with the
group need to be managed, but the change agent doesn't act to be accepted
or loved.

*Acceptant/Active Listener:
The ability to pull out the problem, issue, root cause without judgement of
good/bad. Can be passive (acceptant) aka Women are from Venus thinking, or
active (aim of creating greater clarity of the issues. Often viewed as the
efforts necessary to build community (Peck), seeking to create open,
honest, direct feedback.

*Data/Fact Gatherer:
Often most clients/subjects/targets aren't sophisticated enough or think
statistically when it comes to the effort required to pull together a
focused, useful measurement system. (Think about Wheeler & understanding
variation). Often the target, especially in the beginning, has not the
knowledge, skills or abilities to identify and collect the proper data.
The Change Agent should, and also be able to recognize when the client

Being a member of the team; serving in various roles such as leader,
organizer, facilitator, recorder, support, etc. The change agent must have
the ability to recognize what roles are necessary, make sure they are
adequately filled, and fill the role(s) him/herself if necessary. It is
not a role of dominance, but of filling the gaps in membership. These gaps
shift as the team evolves through the phases of change, so the change agent
is never locked into any one member role.

*Structure Provider:
Akin to what you (Rachael) described (which sounded like a variation on the
Situational Leadership Model), but to a higher degree. This include
project planning, agenda building, facilitation, group process observer.
Knowledge of small group processes is important here, and the chief change
agent role is architect and engineer. By what method is the group going to
achieve its goal, and who will manage the method? Knowledge of
application/exercises is important, they are the tools to provide structure
beyond the "watchdogging" of ground rules.

*Teacher/Skill Developer/Coach:
Since change agents are life-long learners (they need to be since change
changes) they will be working most often with groups that have never
worked as a group before, and usually have never applied or even seen many
of the tools the Change agent has in his/her toolkit. Teaching a balance
of theory and application (adults rarely tolerate new theories, and want
application, but application without theory is useless (Deming)) Change
agents need to have levels 3, 4, or 5 of knowledge (method, skill,
profound) in tools in their toolkit, and understand Glassers' hierarchy of
how we retain what we are exposed to.

Technical expert, solution provider. There are times when the Change Agent
has the answer, and speed is of the essence. Most consultants are expert
only solution providers (Define problem-->Build model--> collect
data-->Determine optimal solution-->"sell" solution). But we have to
remember the context of being a solution provider. Often it is in the
context of a large scale effort, and without considering linkages to that
larger systematic effort, unlinked solutions will most likely produce zero
or negative results in the higher order system.

The most fun, but also most dangerous role, of honest broker, critic, one
who "pushes" back on the target who resists or is unwilling. Judge
(good/bad), and get the client to make self-judgements, feel the pain that
all is not well, that what they have been doing in the past is holding them
back. Force the asking "why" and "how do you know?" questions. Create and
manage conflict, dissatisfaction with the status quo. Challenging is often
done to raise priority, get over feelings of powerlessness and
victimization (at effect), or when the target is unwilling.

> Phases of Change (POC)
>Again, more detail would be interesting to me at least. Do the phases
>in this model correspond to the forming/storming/norming/performing
>model we've discussed on learning-org in the past?

Yes, it does, but is expanded and has 7 steps that aren't sequentially

*Situation Appraisal
Exploration of the BELIEFs in Cause and Effect relationships that drive the
improvement efforts. Turn aside A and C activities (normal jobs and
crises) and focus on B (improvement). Actual KNOWLEDGE of C&E
relationships rarely exists in the beginning, so enlisting client support,
maximize history and personal experiences to create a joint diagnosis of
THE problem

Psychological stress creation and management (resentment, hatred, concern,
frustration, discouragement,etc) These are undercurrents, and in this
phase, how do we get them to the surface, voiced and resolved? To move on
without resolution encourages prisoners and tourists in the room, and is
self-destructive to the process. Sometimes resolution is sought in the
group , but also one=on=one.

*Self Awareness
"know theyself". Achieve a shared, explicit, open understanding (no
attribution nor retribution) of the present situation. Acknowledgement
that that is the way it was, it doesn't have to be that way any more, and
we can do something about it. Provides the factual basis to form the
starting point and motivation for change.

*Self Evaluation
Come to closure on effectiveness/efficiency/quality of current system and
methods. Form criteria and the description of what is "wanted", ideally by
the group. Postures the group to make decisions and take actions based on
what they want.

*Self Designed Change
The group determines the necessary course of action, in detail sufficient
to implement. The expert knowledge of the group coalesces and choices
between alternatives are made, and structure is applied to the design and
development of the proposed solution. Change agent typically backs off,
away from expert solution provider to facilitator. This is where the team
usually transformed from being lead to leading themselves.

*Use new behaviors
*Reinforce new behaviors
Where most fail to come to closure. Getting the solution pilot tested,
implemented, what ever it takes to experiment and evaluate the utility of
the solution as implemented. If successful, knowledge of what it will take
to maintain use of the solution in the long term needs to be reinforced and
managed. There is no walk away point, there always need to be some
monitoring of that the solution is still used, and no "regression" into
past behaviors has occurred.

scypher@perform.vt.edu (Scott R. Cypher)

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>