Change agents aren’t all alike. Organisations that fail to embrace the diversity of the change agent fail at change.
Change agents are a diverse bunch.
Organisations tend to lump them together in an ‘outsider’ bucket. When change agents don’t think & act in the way of the majority then it is assumed their different way is shared. Yet change agents often find collaboration challenging when they don’t understand that a common desire for change can be driven from diverse motives and methods.
Adam Morgan of eatbigfish describes 10 challenger narratives in The Challenger Almanac. These narratives that give a sense of the diversity of motivations and approaches to change:
- People’s Champion – standing up for the exploited or overlooked
- Missionary – ethical or ideological advocate
- Democratiser – challenging elitism and exclusivity
- Irreverent Maverick – the provocateur
- Enlightened Zagger – the deliberate contrarian
- Real & Human – advocating for the human
- The Visionary – transcending current ideas
- The Next Generation – improving fitness to the future
- The Game Changer – rewriting the rules
- The Feisty Underdog – battling the winners
Few change agents fit cleanly in one narrative. Often many narratives will be woven into a unique personal approach. There are plenty of opportunities for conflict as to the objectives and methods in the diversity of narratives.
Change agents and the organisations that seek to foster their work need to concentrate on building connection as to what is in common. Ideological debates and fractious debates as to approach can illuminate the diverse paths but they tend to delay action.
Change agents need to embrace the action of others, learn from diverse perspectives and leverage alignment of narratives. Broadening the toolkit of change benefits both the change agents and their organisations.