Change Leaders |


“Change is easy for those driving it and hard for those being driven by it.” – Anyone but me


Change Leaders …

  • Understand change from strategic and tactical perspectives.
  • Accept short term failures as part of long term success.
  • Communicate through any and every channel.
  • Embed themselves into the fabric of the organization and become an active member of multiple communities.
  • Learn and Share.
  • Know when to stop.
  • Know when to push.
  • Understand the differences between collective intelligence and individual intelligence.

Change leaders can only be successful if the structure and culture of the organization is engaged in a change practice.

Structure being – Functions and organization in management hierarchy and responsibilities.

Culture being-  Interaction between people in peer to peer and/or relationships between manager / leader and staff.   Culture deals with human factors of cognitive, physical and social relations.

Jim says “You have to come to the realization that there are times, we must self-amputate.”    Organizational cuts are painful and sometimes needed but they become important when other options have been exhausted.  – Jim Knight

Change is hard.  

changes went well.jpeg

Change isn’t a program which can be handled by basic high level steps and initiatives. Change is much more fluid and adaptive.  Change leaders have to sense and respond to events constantly adjusting activities and behavior.   That isn’t to say that we don’t make plans.

Imagine for a moment that you are planning a road trip across the country,  you may decide on places to stop for fuel, food and rest.   While you are on the road, that 64 ounce bottle of water really got to you and you may have to alter your plans adjust and pull over for a bio break.   It is the same kind of idea.   Planning and goal setting is important but you have to be flexible.


In consideration of the same road trip,  it is possible that some family members didn’t want to go.   What would you do to help them accept and possibly even enjoy the trip?

Clarity and communication is a basic constant.   Clearly discussing and sharing the mission, vision, scope and objective of change.   Why is change needed?  What are the costs of keeping things the same?


What happens when you refuse to change?  What happens to the company if we refuse to change?

Change leaders work across an organization to connect ideas and people as part of a community.   Change leaders have to constantly change, learn, grow and adapt themselves.


The Real

The average time spent at a job is now 4 years.   Depending on your frame of mind and tolerance for risk,  this could be a good thing.   If we consider the personal benefits in our individual time to competency or time to mastery,  change or shifting roles / job in 3-5 years will increase our overall knowledge, skills and ability.  Staying in a job (may) decrease our ability.   In the chart below, educators are normally on the B curve.


Change Reaction

If you are reading this in Sept 2017,  you will note that Donald Trump is president,  we are on the brink of war with a few radical countries,  “Cash me outside” is a thing that is making millions of dollars by being rude and disrespectful,  massive hurricanes are becoming normal, earthquakes, volcano erupting, and a super planet was prophesized to hit the earth and cause the rapture a few days ago.

Wow..  seriously.. wow..  especially that “Cash me outside” nonsense.

So, the issue is  | change at a higher level whether it be organizational or other becomes personal.   When it impacts “me” is when change is an issue.

People deal with change (generally) in three ways.

1. Victims

  • Perceive themselves as independent of the facts.
  • Feel threatened with hostile situations they can’t handle.
  • Panic and respond with “fight or flight.”
  • Become fatalistic.
  • Oversimplify the world into good or bad, limiting their alternatives.
  • Are never happy and complain about everything.
  • Become pessimistic and cynical about management’s intentions.
  • React by waiting for change to overtake and crush them.

2. Survivors

  • Believe they are at the mercy of circumstances they cannot change.
  • Believe they can survive the change if they simply “hold on” or become competitive with other employees.
  • Convince themselves that “grasping” and “clinging” are necessary for self protection.
  • Respond with anticipation to what is coming and behave accordingly.

3. Navigators

  • Face the pain of change and take a proactive approach.
  • Create a vision of the desired future.
  • Gather pertinent information and assertively pursue the vision.
  • Manage the stress of change well by cultivating a belief in their own ability to deal competently with the situation.
  • Believe in being the cause and influences of events rather than the victim.

Point Being..  change sucks..  changesucks

Going through change and dealing with it or leveraging it may be difficult, there is a good chance things will be better at the end of the change story.   That being said,  I don’t want Niribu to hit the earth right now, that just wouldn’t be cool.

New or Different?

All the cartoons and quotes won’t make any of this better.    It is hard work to go through a change practice and more often change initiatives fail.   The catch is that there really shouldn’t be a change campaign.  Change happens and should be communicated so that individuals have a higher level of awareness.   Companies hire people today on long term contracts.   This means that people for the most part are all contractors.   It is always a temp job.  The catch is how long can we as individuals maintain our relevance.   It is also important for the organization to maintain, grow and raise (organizational intelligence / competency).

It feels like a one way relationship to people because something is “happening to me” but really it is a multi-dimensional relationship.   Something is happening to the company and to all the people in it.  Something is happening to senior leaders.   Something is happening to managers at the mid-level and something is happening to subject matter experts.   The difference is “awareness.”

If I were to add anything to the ADKAR model, it would be “Transparency” because people simply want to be respected and informed.   In general, people just want to understand what the heck is going on and why.   Even if it is bad news, they can be better prepared to help as opposed to being in the dark.



We don’t know..

Change management and knowledge management go hand in hand.    Many companies survive change and many do not.   Even large companies fail to deal with change and wind up dying.   When going through change, everyone has to be open to possibilities and realize that a fixed destination is not a specific target as much as it is a range of possibilities.    Operational awareness, organizational transparency and clear relevant communication are the factors for success.   We can’t know what the end of the story will look like as it has yet to have been written.




Agile Experts Follow Up

A few posting back I challenged the Agile community to bring to light their process and methods.   My blog is posted on Twitter, LinkedIn and a few other places, at the very least a few thousand people get notified of an update.  A few folks in the community responded but I would like to repost Dave Lamp’s comments here because he has a deep understanding of people, process, methods and use of tools from a military leadership perspective, a government contractor perspective, and a government civilian perspective.    Change has to come from a cultural normalization with practice.   A faster more effective and efficient approach to development requires TRUST.   If we were to analyse my blog, the word that would be used most across every post would be TRUST.   It is central to all that we do and it is critical that we work to gain and manage our trust relationships carefully.    Here is Dave’s comment :

You’re not wrong in this assessment of agile, but probably are pointing out clearly the fact that most program managers are the sad and unwitting victims of the dreaded and highly contagious condition known as REIFICATION–the mental state where one believes that something is real when it is only an idea. So we continually talk about about agile acquisition, “rapid” fielding, crowd sourcing, social networking…ad nauseum…as a means of making ourselves believe that these words are making something happen by our use of them, rather than doing what they would logically demand–using Scrum techniques and shortening delivery schedules, for example!

The biggest danger of this linguistic condition is that a chronic malaise sets in usually accomplanied by a fetid and seemingly endless discharge of…PowerPoint slides! The person so infected will exhibit an emotional and tersely worded unwillingness to entertain their worsening infection, citing such things as or Govloop as illustrations of how the Defense Department is already even now moving into this rapid fielding of agile acquisition capability. The fact that their projects do not use these methods, that no process exists for sharing specifications for web service development does not prove their disease, since such outcomes are “not in their swim lane” or that their program was not funded to “boil the ocean” or “solve world hunger” which such actions would certainly illustrate.

So….how do deal with the worsening condition of governmental IT professionals? I believe that what someone must do is to create a simple, safe and secure method of creating web services, just as has been done with the Ozone Widget Framework for visualization services. If a web services development toolkit (WSDK) could be found on as an “app” for regular warfighters to build a “data-as-a-service” container that could be used by anyone for a particular function, you would catastrophically transform the Defense Department’s web service development process. We would begin to see a rapid migration to agile development by end users who would be able to take their spreadsheets, their Access databases and store them as a service for others to consume as a reliable and accountable source of specific information about a particular function, location, mission or task. As “controlled unclassified information” (CUI) data services proliferated, leaders would then demand for similar web services on other classification levels. It would be success without fighting, a way of winning recommended by none other than the ever-quoted Chiense general Sun Tzu!. After all, producers have no incentive to do this since they are all too often trapped by the “cost, schedule, performance” tyranny of the old-school program manager. So they have to console themselves that someone will eventually give them a contract to do things this way. However, all too often the old-school program manager has a doppelganger at the contractor’s management who see no value in a course of action that would lower billable hours, shorten the billable schedule and “undoubtedly” destroy overall IT development performance! NOT!

If I were able to do it myself, I’d build such a toolkit out of Google Apps that connected to JackBe’s mashups, OWF widgets and SharePoint portlets. However, I’d like to recommend it to you as one that could be done by the wise and capable readership of this blog! This could become a shared “trailblazer” project worth doing in Forge and could be a shining example of how this collaborative environment was designed to work–safely, securely and sanely in a sweetly agile way! Let’s do this!