A Love Letter to Change Agents

September 2nd, 2016 Vern Oakley

Many of Tribe’s best clients have been “change agents,” those individuals within big corporations who are proactive when identifying a business challenge, recognizing the difference between a nice-to-have and a requirement, then making it happen.

Change agents can often see something in the distance that makes them concerned, which can sometimes track as paranoia, but it’s a foresight that cements their conviction. In fact, sometimes it’s not even a perceived need but an emerging pressure. A feeling.

Most of the time, the deciders of the future are acting on triggers, which prompt them to seek outside help. Triggers like:

→ An influx in capital investment
→ A merger or acquisition
→ New regulations
→ A change in leadership
→ A product lunch
→ Entry into a new market

These are examples of motivators that keep change agents awake at night. It’s not so much seeing opportunity (though it’s sometimes that) as rising against something, an anticipation of the economic ripples that make change necessary.

We at Tribe often say that our clients don’t buy video; they buy a solution to a communication problem for which video is the best option. Change agents are our best clients because they buy from us in bulk, which is only one of the reasons we love them. (They’re also not afraid of making exceptional creative work.)

They use video to help solve major organizational issues–they know it’s fast, effective, and cuts across boundaries with ease. They think of video communication as a method for carrying out a strategy. Our engagements with change agents can last a period of a year, two years, three years, or more. A robust communication strategy carries a unified message to a variety of stakeholders: your leadership, current employees, future employees, business partners, investors and customers.

According to a study published by the Harvard Business Review, change implementation within an organization is “an exercise in social influence.” Social influence is built by the cultivation of personal networks within the company, not just working across functions but engaging those various functions to work together.

It’s easy to see how having a realistic understanding of the long-term strategy and messaging, with enthusiastic cooperation across functions, is the ultimate tool.

Picture in your mind someone you know with the capability to steer this level of interdepartmental cooperation, who understands the vision, with the grit to keep a big project moving in the face of opposition. Do you have someone in mind? That is the person to protect and empower. (And that person should give us call.)

Change agents materialize at all levels of a corporation and can only handle so much wheel-spinning. They can be impatient in their careers, in a constant negotiation with bureaucracy.

Change happens when there is a divergence from the status quo.

Change agents are rare unicorns but you need their bravery, so go find and reward them.