A change agent is a person from inside or outside the organisation who helps an organisation transform itself by focusing on such matters as organisational effectiveness, improvement, and development. This is, what the dictionary says. For me, change agents are everywhere, and always behind the next corner.
My behaviour could be defined as my actions based on several given different preconditions, such as my environment, my state of mind and health, the time of the day, my recent experiences, etc.. We all know that, when we wake up and realise it’s a bright and sunny summer’s day, our very first thoughts and emotions are different to when we are confronted with November rain, chilly winds and darkness outside. We experience a similar priming when we just learned about the landing of a new big contract and don’t care at all about the lame driver in front of us who misses the green traffic light and forces us to stay a minute longer. If we had learned about the loss of a client instead, we would get quite angry at this poor dozy driver.
In any of these situations, there are change agents. Sometimes, these agents come as individual human beings, such as the beggar in front of the Hermès store who reminds us of life’s conflicting nature. Sometimes, a situation can serve as a change agent: when things don’t work out as expected and we have to adapt our plans accordingly. Mostly, we don’t like changing plans because this includes choosing second-best options; e.g. our favourite restaurant is closed today and we have to search for an alternative. Or, a little worse, our flight has been cancelled and due to a lack of alternatives we are forced to stay another night.
Each of these situations we experience every day can be regarded as a change agent. By acknowledging that a change of the original plan is either necessary or possible, we realise that we have different options regarding our future actions. In these subtle moments, there lies a fundamental opportunity for each of us: we realise that we actually can decide what happens next. As basic as this sounds, this is, if you listen to conversations around you, something that many people aren’t aware of. Many people feel that they have to act in a certain way, that there is something like a karma that predefines our actions. Therefore, many people feel heteronomous, stressed, and some of us experiences burn-outs.
Each new day offers a variety of change agents. My experience tells me to take them seriously, to pause for a moment when they appear, and to realise that I have the possibility to decide about the direction of my very next step – ideally in a positive and forward-thinking way. Of course, each of us will have a different opinion of the nature and appearance of change agents: it depends on each individual’s personality what kind of change agents she will regard as such. And, there is a fifty-fifty chance whether a change agent’s appearance results in a good behaviour.
The essence of being aware of change agents is to realise that you have an option to decide for the better.