By RUPA SIVANOLI
WHEN change management first came about, especially in the Malaysian context in the early to mid 1990s, part of the checklist of getting the change agenda off successfully would include enlisting opinion leaders and positive influencers to become “Change Agents”.
To soften the connotation of the word “agent” which tends to have a bit of a “James Bond” spin on it, the role would also have other names such as Change Champion, Change Ambassadors, Change Leaders, “Juara” , etc.
Either way, there are several characteristics that cut across these chosen ones:
·They are handpicked by the management
·They cut across the hierarchy and geographical spread of the organisation
·They are willing to take on the change related tasks such as cascading communications and supporting the change programme needs in general.
CHANGE AGENTS ARE ONLY HUMAN
The effectiveness of Change Agents will depend on why they are needed in the first place. Just because change management methodology stipulates that having a change agent network increases the chance of successful change it does not mean that in practical terms this would be the way to go.
A change agent network is something you build within your organisation as a means to enhance clarity through communication and it is a machinery that should be used for change related messages as well as non-change related messages. In essence having a sustainable network for involving, engaging and cascading should be the focus. Then, look at the content that is being poured in and pulled out from it.