Are you recognized for your ability to see the bigger picture whilst taking a pragmatic and positive approach to implementing change? Sounds like you are a good candidate for being a change agent. Let’s explore the role a little deeper.
Overview: What are change agents?
Change agents are highly skilled, trained and motivated individuals that thrive on the opportunity and challenge of leading business transformation and lean deployment projects. Usually, they have completed training in Lean and/or Six Sigma disciplines and have successfully led complex and high value continuous improvement projects in a variety of business domains. They present themselves in such a way that commands respect and engenders trust from their peers and colleagues. Whilst there is no agreed set of characteristics for change agents, the following summary can act as a guide:
- Willing to take ownership and responsibility for their actions
- Strong desire to lead and inspire others, leading by example
- Pragmatic and practical approach to problem solving
- Positive belief that hard work and resilience will overcome obstacles to success
- The capacity to listen, communicate and negotiate
- Data and process driven, with flexibility to explore new concepts and ideas
Change agents are most often picked and recruited from within their own organisation where they use their knowledge and contacts to detect and diffuse sensitive issues that might otherwise derail transformation projects.
An industry example of change agents
A mid-size engineering company in the pharmaceutical industry had successfully completed training 2 cohorts of Lean Six Sigma green belts and black belts. The black belts were assigned into various business functions to lead change and continuous improvement programs, the green belts were retained in their home departments to deploy the skills obtained. Irrespective of the belt colour the aspiration was for all members of the cohorts to be successful change agents, which may in turn offer opportunities for green belts to progress to black belt and black belt to master black belt. To facilitate this the company invested in a dedicated coaching program with a focus upon leadership, accountability and negotiation skills. The term change agent was introduced into common business language within the company and a dedicated career ladder was created for Lean Six Sigma change agents.
Fast forward five years from the original 2 cohorts, the company now has a highly skilled and motivated pool of change agents deployed across the business and also deployed into Tier 1 suppliers to ensure incoming part quality standards are met.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about change agents
What is a change agent?
The term change agent usually describes personnel who are trained in Lean and/or Six Sigma methodologies and are deployed as leaders of transformation and continuous improvement projects.
What are typical characteristics of change agents?
Change agents are highly skilled and adaptable, with a data driven approach to decision making and a strong desire to inspire and lead others through positive change.
What is the advantage of deploying a change agent?
There are many advantages including having a go-to person that will lead and work with colleagues and has the courage to redefine problems into positive opportunities for change.