This list is a classic for Change Agents, written by Herbert A. Shepard in 1973. Dr. Shepard was an professor, management consultant, human psychology researcher, and innovator in the field of Organizational Development and Organizational Behaviour. He conducted the first large-scale experiments in Organization Development, while at Esso in the late 1950′s.
He created the following list “not so much bits of advice as things to think about when you are being a change agent, a consultant, an organization or community development specialist –or when you are just being yourself trying to bring about something that involves other people.” The full document can be found here.

 

1) STAY ALIVE
2) START WHERE THE SYSTEM IS
3) NEVER WORK UPHILL

  • Don’t build hills as you go;
  • Work in the most promising arena;
  • Build resources;
  • Don’t over-organise;
  • Don’t argue if you can’t win;
  • Play God a little…

4) INNOVATION REQUIRES A GOOD IDEA, INITIATIVE AND A FEW FRIENDS
5) LOAD EXPERIMENTS FOR SUCCESS
6) LIGHT MANY FIRES
7) KEEP AN OPTIMISTIC BIAS
8) CAPTURE THE MOMENT

 

MY TAKEAWAYS
1) Stay in touch with the purpose of the change endeavour. Recognize emotions for what they are and do not let the purpose be swayed.
2) Use the “empathy rule” and gather information about the system first- seek first to understand the people you need to communicate with, before you ask them to understand what you want them to do.
3) Avoid the unnecessary obstacles:
  • don’t create new hills (don’t create new and unnecessary resistance);
  • pick a first “win” if possible and find the path of least resistance to achieve that outcome;
  • build a strong team supporting the change, and create strong support;
  • allow those involved in the change to contribute and participate in the planning;
  • avoid win-lose scenarios, look for mutual gain via the “what’s in it for me”;
  • be willing to make decisions or someone else will make them for you.

4) Find and align with a few partners who are strong supporters. Avoid having too many partners so the emphasis can remain on implementing the change.

5) Use experience-based learning to reinforce the benefits or desirability of the change.
6) Keep the momentum going and spread out your base of Change Champions as you move forward.
7) Look for and capitalize on the opportunities within each problem.
8) Make your actions and your communications timely in order to be relevant.