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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Disagree with Jack Welch

Jack and Suzy Welch wrote an interesting response to the question of "What kind of person is a change agent?" in 09 October issue of "Business Week."

While no one can deny Jack's success at GE, or he and Suzy's success since then, I take exception to one of the statements they make. Find $100K+ Jobs

From the article:

"...Most questions we receive about change are from individuals deep within their organizations, .... They hunger to be change agents, but worry they can't be. They're right (emphasis added). Sure, a transformative idea can percolate from below. And yes, gains are being made with employee engagement, ...By and large, however, change is still made by people with some sort of authority."

Wow, talk about a "give up now" moment. What are those who are not in a position of authority supposed to do, just be automatons and hope they get credit for good ideas? While I don't disagree with the points of the article in general, such as change agents must be leaders, I think the Welch's miss the boat for the rest of the working populace. Change agents have to be cultivated and trained, they don't just show up as managers, directors, or CEOs.

If we consider the writings of Stephen Covey, in particular the concept of a "sphere of influence," this is where individual contributors can be change agents. Often, I have been approached by an employee, whether in the Army or in the civilian world, where they have an idea of how to do things better. I may have been able to implement it on a small scale, though it may not happen on a greater scale. Either way, that person made for change and succeeded. Find Premium Finance Jobs on Doostang. Start Now!

Further, some of the greatest change initiatives have started out as minor suggestions or incremental improvements. Change, and its second cousin innovation, take time and are often done in small steps. If you are a manager, you should encourage this among all of your employees. Promote your staff to think critically and challenge the status quo. There may be a better way to do it, but you may never know unless you ask. You may be cultivating that agent of change and not even know it.

1 comment:

jonathan said...

think about it from the other way round. What about people who can STOP change. Typically, these can include lower down staff.
In my experience, these have included clerical staff, caretakers etc.
The challenge for managers is to engage THESE people and stop them being Luddites..

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