Igniting the Spark—Change Agent
Change is one of the most challenging concepts for most of us to embrace. Yet without examining our course in business or in life, we stagnate. We keep doing the same things in the same way and anticipate a better result. It just isn’t going to happen.
Since I hit the half-century mark last Fall, I’ve been inspired to look over many areas in life to determine what’s working and what’s not. I came to grips with the fact that eating dessert after every meal doesn’t contribute to weight loss even though chocolate, technically, is a fruit. I dug deep into the closets and purged the items which finally I acknowledged really wouldn’t look good on me anymore even if I ever were to fit them again. And, I faced the fact that shoulder pads don’t make me look taller and will never be in style again—goodbye, 1980s.
Evaluating what needs to go and what is the foundation upon which to build for the future can be a daunting task. We love what we know—for better or worse. In business, that can mean you’re making the best darned buggy whip and promoting it long after demand has dwindled.
When businesses evaluate their deliverables and how to promote them, it’s a good idea to seek an outside opinion. Whether you rely on a peer group, board of directors or consultants, be ready to embrace change. Be prepared for some tough love and don’t be lured to accept the opinions of a bunch of pleasers who will stroke your ego and nod in agreement with everything you propose.
You need to include The Devil’s Advocate, The Skeptic, The Doubting Thomases. You want the opinions of people who aren’t just there to drink the Koolaid. I usually warn people who call me to consult on marketing issues, “Don’t ask my opinion unless you really want it.” Anyone who knows me will tell you, I never want for a viewpoint. For example, if you ask, “What do you think of my logo?” stand back. You’ve opened the starting gate and commentary will come hurtling out. If you wanted simple affirmation, well, let’s hope your cousin who likes to doodle and has no marketing background didn’t create the design. Things may get messy.
I’m going to ask you to whom it is intended to appeal. What image of your organization do you want to project? What is the goal? Where will it be used geographically and in what media? And, what do you want viewers to feel when they see it?
When you invite in a change agent, it will be assumed you are ready for change, looking for improvement or soliciting new ideas. When you ask my opinion, I’m going to assume that you may be prepared to hear that your baby is ugly. I’ll ask the uncomfortable questions, put status quo on shaky ground and may knock you clean off your assumptions. I may create a little chaos.
Chaos and opportunity go hand-in-hand. Without stirring things up, you won’t look beyond your comfort zone or head-nodders for answers. Once you ask in a change agent, you ignite the spark that can set your imagination afire. You can discover things about your company or benefits about your product that had gone unnoticed or underappreciated.
So, if you’re ready for fresh perspectives, ignite the spark, don the NOMEX® and pick up the phone. It’s time to get busy with the change agent. Be prepared. Things are going to get toasty!