9 Tips For Change Agents

  1. Be open to data at the start. “Even if you think you know what you’re doing, chances are you don’t know what you could be doing. Open up your mind to as much new thinking as you can absorb. You may find different and better ideas than the ones your organization started with.”
  2. Network like crazy. “There is a network of people who are thinking about learning organizations. I’ve found you can get in touch with them easily. People say to me, `I can’t believe you talked with so-and-so! How’d you do it?’ The answer is, I called him.”
  3. Document your own learning. “People in the organization need to see documentation for their own comfort. The smartest thing I did was to create a matrix of ideas from leading thinkers. I documented two categories of thinking — the elements of a learning organization, and the pitfalls to avoid.”
  4. Take senior management along. Turner’s own education included benchmarking trips to Saturn, Texas Instruments, Motorola, General Electric, and other companies known for their innovative approaches to learning. “Some of the people in the senior group were very skeptical,” Turner says. “It helped to take them on these benchmarking trips to show them other companies that were actually doing some of the same learning practices.”
  5. No fear! “You’ve got to be fearless and not worry about keeping your job.”
  6. Be a learning person yourself. “Change agents have to be in love with learning and constantly learning new things themselves. Then they find new ways to communicate those things to the organization as a whole.”
  7. Laugh when it hurts. “This can be very discouraging work. You need a good sense of humor. It also helps if you’ve got a mantra you can say to yourself when things aren’t going too well.”
  8. Know the business before you try to change anything. “I don’t think you can do this work if you’re just a theorist. I’ve been a sales rep, I’ve been in a marketing job where I worked with the operations side. So when I go about the work of creating a change strategy, I already have an understanding of the people in our organization and what they do.”
  9. Finish what you start. “I made a list of change projects we’d started and never finished in the past. We called it ‘the black hole.’ I determined early on I didn’t want to be part of a second-rate movie.”

9 Tips for Change Agents, Nicholas Morgan, FC5, Oct:Nov 1996

Be Careful What You Wish For

I got my hair cut last week. I was telling my stylist Donna about Steve Hartman (60 Minutes) and his visits to some New York salons. He paid $180 for his first visit and after a lukewarm response to the new ‘do, went to a different salon for a $250 haircut. Donna told me the top end stylists in Milwaukee can make anywhere from $100 to $150.

I was struck by the next thing she said, “The only trouble when you are making that much is your clientele changes.” One of those pieces of often quoted business advice is that as you become in more demand, you should charge more. I met a consultant recently who accomplished his goal of doubling his billable rate and cutting in half the hours he worked. I wonder how his client list changed.

It seems there are some pitfalls you should consider before jacking up your rate. The companies are going to be bigger. The expectations are going to be larger. You may get demands from the newly acquired customers that you are not used to seeing.

As they say, be careful what you wish for…

Do Your Own Thing

I like this post on being an indie at Joe Indie.

I feel like a lot of the projects I am taking on fall in the indie category. A Penny For… started that way and developed into something more. More Space is definitely indie (don’t know where that is going to go). I have some other ideas I am throwing around.

There is also a second post on the being indie that starts with a heavy game developer focus, but has lessons for all.

Mike commented on my post

Mike commented on my post about soloing saying:

With regard to Peter Drucker’s comment about 3 years to break even, did the author offer any advice to those of us who don’t have a big bankroll (like me), but who are seriously considering soloing?

Harriet Rubin does offer some financial suggestions. First, she thinks you should ask for severance if you decide to leave a company. She says also consider negotiating a retainer versus taking severance. Yet she also says:

I have not heard a single story of a company that didn’t turn on an employee as he prepared to go solo. When you announce you’re going out on your own, you pose a threat to everyone you leave behind, a psychological threat, not a business threat- which is worse. Your ex-corporate colleagues act out their belief that you have demeaned them. They feel that you are saying, in effect, “I’m better than you; I can make it on my own.”

Otherwise, she says you just have to do it and everything will work itself out.

Brand You Boot Camp

In Re-imagine, Tom Peters lists a series of questions from their Personal Brand Equity Evaluation [p243]:

  • I am known for [2 or 3 items]; next year at this time I will be known for [1 item].
  • My current project is challenging me in the following ways [3 items].
  • New things I have learned in the last 90 days include [2 or 3 items].
  • My public “recognition program” consists of [2 or 3 items].
  • Additions to my Rolodex in the last 90 days include [2 or 3 names].
  • My resume is Discernibly Different from last year at this time in these [1 or 2] ways.


I just finished reading Soloing by Harriet Rubin and I liked it. I recommend it for would-be free agents.

Rubin felt she needed to create a new word to describe people who leave there jobs to pursue their passions. I do subscribe to the philosophy that new words can create new attitudes and behaviors. GE does it all the time when they introduce new things to the company. At one point, she has a chart comparing soloists to freelancers. She says the freelancer’s ideal is “the professional”, while the soloist’s ideal is “being an artist”. I again like the meaning – the idea of creating.

Here first project after leaving as editor at Doubleday is an article for Inc. magazine. She interviewed Peter Drucker to find out his advice on being a soloist. He gave her two pieces of advice: 1) It takes three years to break even financially as a soloist and 2) To learn anything, you have to be prepared to teach it. Great advice.

Later in the book, Rubin quotes James Carse, author of Finite and Infinite Games. Carse says:

Power is the freedom people have within limits, strength is the freedom people have without limits. Power will always be restricted to a relatively small number of people. Anyone can be strong.

I absolutely love that quote. Free agents and small business people need remember not be confined by limits.

The last quote I want to share is one Rubin uses in her chapter titled “Time Is Your Only Real Asset”. The quote is Marlene Dietrich describing a phone call with her lover and mentor Ernest Hemingway:

There was a silence for a moment…[Ernest] finally said, “Don’t do what you sincerely don’t want to do. Never confuse movement with action.” In those five words he gave me a whole philosophy. I suppose the most remarkable thing about Ernest is that he has found time to do the things most men only dream about.

Dietrich was asking advice on whether she should take a lucrative offer to sing in a Miami nightclub. I think free agents are often feel compelled to take on projects just because someone called. Donald Trump was on a re-run of Ellen a couple of days ago. His first piece of advice was, “You have to love what you are doing” to be successful.

Your Are A Brand

I got this off the Scoble LinkBlog this morning. Robin Good gives 10 steps to creating a better brand for yourself:

  1. Think like a free agent.
  2. Discover what sets you apart and market it shamelessly.
  3. Get visible.
  4. Stop networking, and build a network.
  5. Add value – and then some.
  6. Accelerate your brand power by getting in sync with a major trend in your field and moving to the head of it.
  7. Marry an important, ethical cause as a complement to what you like to do
  8. Share before looking for profit.
  9. Help others become as successful as you.
  10. Question yourself and your approach systematically – get forever curious.