“One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea. It…makes you think that after all, your favorite notions may be wrong, your firmest beliefs ill-founded… Naturally, therefore, common men hate a new idea, and are disposed more or less to ill-treat the original man who brings it.” -Walter Bagehot Physics and Politics (taken from Everett M. Rogers Diffusion of Innovation)
Being an agent of change is an everyday business…
It requires keeping one finger on the pulse of the people and one eye on the horizon. Many consider these agents of change or “changents” as organizational disruptors. When in fact, very seldom do they look for broad, sweeping changes….in most instances, changents have a tendency to just see a different way forward. They notice voids and chasms in the current way of doing that can be filled with new and better ways of doing.
Changents see conversations as transformational events, a forum where knowledge, ideas…and the seeds of change are planted. Where the reality is pushed on towards the vision…
We often have this erroneous idea that a changent is only interested in creating new. When, in fact, a changent is a much more multidimensional and dynamic way of being and doing…
Changents are noticers, adopters, creators, subtractors, directors, leaders, followers, momentum builders…
Changents understand that it is not only in creating new…it is about creating movement, direction…building momentum, and filling voids. It is both addition and subtraction.
As well as creating, it requires engaging in eliminating those obstacles that hinder movement and momentum…of processes and ways of thinking that slow down and even cauterize the forward movement, progress, and progression of an organization.
Changents are not only those early adopters who push forward in an organization to engage and secure new ideas…they know just as well when to slow down and allow new ideas a chance to settle in and percolate.
Changents are adept in the art of timing…and understanding whether the timing is right or not right to move forward. Being a changent is as much knowing what to do as it is knowing what not to do…and when.
As Everett M. Rogers states in Diffusion of Innovation…“A change agent usually seeks to secure the adoption of new ideas, but he or she may also attempt to slow the diffusion process and prevent the adoption of certain innovations with undesirable effects.”
This is a very important and vital clarification…being a changent isn’t just in driving change, steering the ship…it’s being a vacuum and creating voids that spill the organization forward into new areas and arenas. As well as, to determine those current organizational structures and processes that need to be removed…that have run their course and bog down rather than energize the environment and the organization.
Changents spend less time pushing and pulling change…rather they become a vacuum that creates voids which are necessary for the organization to fill…
Being a change agent is being an organizational adjuster…what Buckminster Fuller and Stephen Covey would refer to as organizational Trim Tabs. Trim Tabs are those small rudders on large rudders that create the force that allows the rudder to change the course of the ship or plane. Which is what a changents ultimately is. They are the organizational vacuums that create the void of and for change.
They create the energy of notice. And that energy, that vacuum, has the pull to gain the notice of the whole organization, which creates and enables movement in new directions.
As a Trim Tab…it is important that the pull created both adds and deletes. Which means that it is not just about guiding the ship, about leading the organization forward…it is also in determining whether to add a change or subtract from the things that are getting in the way of your organization being agile. Trimming the fat.
A changent is to an organization, as a Trim Tab is to a rudder. They have the ability to serve as the vacuum that in effect turns the rudder, effectively determining the direction of the organization.
With which I will leave you with the words of Buckminster Fuller…
“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary – the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.
It’s like a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. Bit if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.
So I said, call me a Trim Tab. -Buckminster Fuller (Wikipedia)