Tag Archives: change agents

Empowering Employees: Engaging and Motivating Change Agents

Empowering Employees: Engaging and Motivating Change Agents

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s rapidly evolving business environment, organizations need to be agile and innovative to stay competitive. To drive meaningful change and foster a culture of continuous improvement, organizations must empower their employees to become change agents. By engaging and motivating employees, businesses can harness their expertise, passion, and creativity to navigate challenges and seize opportunities. In this thought leadership article, we will explore two inspiring case studies that highlight the power of empowering employees as change agents.

Case Study 1: Adobe’s Kickbox Program

Adobe, a global software company, developed an innovative employee empowerment program called Kickbox. Recognizing the need to unleash entrepreneurial spirit and accelerate innovation among its workforce, Adobe introduced this program to encourage employees to pursue their ideas and passions.

Through Kickbox, employees receive a literal red box containing various resources, including a prepaid credit card, a guidebook, and other tools they need to experiment with their ideas. The employees are then encouraged to take risks, explore new concepts, and validate them by seeking feedback and support from their colleagues and mentors.

One standout success story from the Kickbox program is the creation of Project Mighty, a digital pen and ruler device that seamlessly integrates with Adobe’s software. An Adobe employee, inspired by Kickbox’s encouragement and resources, developed the concept for Project Mighty. This empowering initiative enabled employees like him to contribute their ideas and bring them to fruition, leading to the development of an innovative product that enhanced Adobe’s offerings.

The Kickbox program exemplifies the power of giving employees the freedom, resources, and support to pursue their ideas and passions. By fostering a culture of innovation and providing employees with the tools they need, organizations can empower individuals to become change agents capable of driving significant transformation.

Case Study 2: Patagonia’s Environmental Activism

Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and equipment company, demonstrates how a strong sense of purpose and employee engagement can propel an organization to become a force for positive change. Patagonia has long been dedicated to environmental activism and sustainability. Central to their ethos is the belief that employees should not only be passionate about their work but also contribute to a higher cause.

To empower employees as change agents, Patagonia implemented various initiatives. One such initiative is the “Earth Tax,” where the company donates 1% of its sales to grassroots environmental organizations. This program allows employees to actively participate in decision-making by recommending and voting on organizations to receive the donations, fostering a sense of ownership and advocacy.

Furthermore, Patagonia also offers its employees the opportunity to participate in environmental internships. Employees can take paid leave to work with environmental organizations and learn firsthand about the challenges and solutions related to sustainability. This program not only empowers employees to become environmental change agents but also enriches their personal and professional growth.

Through its commitment to environmental activism and employee engagement, Patagonia has not only built a successful business but also spearheaded changes within the industry. By empowering employees to actively contribute to a bigger purpose, organizations can create a workforce that is passionately dedicated to making a positive impact.


The case studies of Adobe’s Kickbox program and Patagonia’s environmental activism demonstrate the power of empowering employees as change agents. By providing the necessary resources, support, and a sense of purpose, organizations can unlock the untapped potential within their workforce. Whether through innovation initiatives like Kickbox or commitment to a higher cause like environmental activism, engaging and motivating employees fosters a culture of continuous improvement and strategic transformation.

In today’s dynamic and competitive marketplace, organizations that invest in empowering their employees as change agents gain a significant advantage. By nurturing creativity, fostering ownership, and aligning employees’ passions with organizational goals, businesses can harness the collective strength of their workforce to drive innovation and elevate their industry position. When organizations recognize the power of their employees as change agents, they can truly thrive and make a lasting impact on both their employees and the world around them.

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Creating a Strong Change Coalition

Discussing the Importance of Assembling a Diverse and Influential Group of Change Agents to Drive Successful Transformation Efforts

Creating a Strong Change Coalition

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Change is an inevitable part of any organization’s growth and evolution. However, ensuring the success of transformation efforts requires more than just a well-crafted strategy. It demands the creation of a strong change coalition – a diverse and influential group of change agents who can effectively champion and drive the change process. In this article, we will explore the significance of assembling such a coalition by reviewing two compelling case studies.

Case Study 1: IBM’s Transformation

IBM, a technology giant, faced a critical need to transform its business model to adapt to the rapidly changing technology landscape. To accomplish this, IBM embarked on a strategic transformation effort in 2012, which involved a significant shift towards cloud computing and cognitive computing solutions, such as their AI platform Watson.

One crucial aspect of IBM’s successful transformation was their ability to assemble a strong change coalition. The coalition consisted of top executives, mid-level managers, and frontline employees who possessed deep domain expertise, diverse perspectives, and influential positions within the organization. This diverse group of change agents worked collectively to overcome resistance, align stakeholders, and drive the necessary changes across the organization.

By assembling a strong coalition, IBM harnessed the power of its employees’ collective intelligence and created buy-in at every level. The influential members of the coalition facilitated communication, generated enthusiasm, and ensured the implementation of the transformation efforts. They also provided feedback and ensured that the change journey remained aligned with the company’s overarching vision. As a result, IBM successfully achieved its transformation goals, solidifying its position as a leading player in the technology industry.

Case Study 2: The British Airways Turnaround

In the late 1980s, British Airways (BA) faced serious challenges, including high operating costs, a demoralized workforce, and intense competition. To address these issues, BA relied on a strong change coalition to drive a successful turnaround. Led by CEO Colin Marshall, the change coalition included senior management, union leaders, and key stakeholders from various departments within the organization.

The diversity and influence of the coalition members played a crucial role in the transformation’s success. Marshall understood the importance of gaining commitment from unions, which historically opposed major changes. By actively involving union leaders in the change process, Marshall built trust, fostered collaboration, and ensured employee support for the necessary cost-cutting measures and improvements in customer service.

The change coalition at BA also focused on communication and transparency, ensuring that all employees were informed and engaged in the transformation efforts. Marshall, along with other influential members, actively listened to employees’ concerns, addressed them promptly, and recognized their contributions to the turnaround. This created a sense of ownership and commitment among the workforce, leading to significant improvements in both financial performance and customer satisfaction.


These case studies demonstrate that assembling a diverse and influential change coalition significantly contributes to the success of transformation efforts. Such coalitions not only provide the necessary expertise and perspectives to navigate through complex changes but also foster buy-in, build trust, and ensure continuous alignment with the organization’s vision.

When implementing your next strategic transformation endeavor, remember the importance of creating a strong change coalition. Identify influential individuals from various levels and functional areas within your organization, and empower them to champion the change process. By investing in a diverse and influential coalition, you lay the foundation for a successful transformation that can propel your organization towards greater success and sustainability.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

Image credit: Pexels

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The Role of Change Agents

Empowering Employee-Led Change

The Role of Change Agents: Empowering Employee-Led Change

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Change is an inevitable part of organizational growth and success. In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, companies need to constantly adapt and reinvent themselves to stay competitive. Traditionally, change initiatives were often driven by top-down approaches where management dictated the direction and employees were expected to comply. However, this approach often met resistance, leading to low engagement, lack of ownership, and ultimately, failed change efforts.

Recognizing the need to foster a culture of engagement and ownership, organizations have started embracing a new approach, harnessing the power of change agents. Change agents are forward-thinking individuals who are passionate about driving change and inspiring others. They act as catalysts, facilitating employee-led change initiatives and ensuring their successful implementation. This article explores the role of change agents and their significance in empowering employee-led change, using two case study examples.

Case Study 1: Zappos

Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, has gained a reputation for its exceptional customer service. In 2014, the company embarked on a transformational journey to shift its focus from a traditional hierarchical structure to a holacracy, a system in which traditional managers are replaced by self-managing teams. To facilitate this change, Zappos identified and empowered a group of change agents known as the “Zappos Culture Crew.”

The Zappos Culture Crew was composed of employees from various departments who volunteered to be change agents. They were responsible for driving the cultural transformation and breaking down barriers within the organization. By empowering these change agents to lead the change, Zappos fostered a sense of ownership and commitment among employees. The change agents actively engaged in creating awareness, facilitating workshops, and providing ongoing support, ensuring the successful implementation of the holacracy model.

Case Study 2: Adobe Systems

Adobe Systems, a multinational software company, experienced a significant digital transformation when it transitioned from a traditional annual performance review process to a more agile, continuous feedback model. To overcome resistance and ensure successful adoption, Adobe identified a group of employees enthusiastic about the change and trained them as change agents.

These change agents, known as “performance coaches,” played a vital role in driving the new performance management system. They conducted training sessions, provided ongoing support, and acted as a bridge between the leadership team and employees. By leveraging the knowledge and influence of these change agents, Adobe empowered their workforce to embrace the change and actively participate in shaping the new performance evaluation process.

Benefits of Empowering Employee-Led Change

Empowering change agents and enabling employee-led change offers several benefits:

1. Increased employee engagement: By involving employees in the change process, organizations tap into their knowledge, insights, and creativity. Empowered employees feel a sense of ownership, leading to higher engagement levels and increased commitment to the change initiative.

2. Improved change adoption and success: When employees are actively involved in driving change, they understand the reasons behind it and have a stake in its success. This involvement leads to higher adoption rates and successful implementation of change initiatives.

3. Enhanced problem-solving capability: Employees on the front lines often have valuable insights into the operational challenges and customer needs. Empowering them as change agents enables organizations to tap into this knowledge, resulting in more innovative and effective solutions.


Empowering change agents and fostering employee-led change is crucial for organizations seeking long-term success in today’s ever-changing business environment. By leveraging the passion and expertise of employees, companies can unlock the potential for innovation, improvement, and growth. As illustrated by the case studies of Zappos and Adobe Systems, change agents play a significant role in creating a culture of engagement, ownership, and successful change adoption. Organizations that embrace this approach not only navigate change more effectively but also build a workforce that is resilient, adaptable, and ready to tackle future challenges.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

Image credit: Pixabay

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Change Agents and the Future of Change Management

Change Agents and the Future of Change ManagementRecently I was identified in a mini research study as one of the top Key Opinion Leaders in change management on Twitter by Maven7, and they were curious about some of my opinions about organizational change, and asked me these two questions for an article titled ’14 Insightful Quotes from Influencers in Change Management’ on their blog.

1) In your opinion, how will change management evolve in the next 10 years?

2) Why is change agent involvement essential during a change initiative, and what best practices are there to involve them?

The article on their site just highlights a few quotes from the insights I shared with them surrounding these two questions, so if you’re more interested in hearing the full responses, please continue reading.

Question: In your opinion, how will change management evolve in the next 10 years?

I believe that the field of organizational change will evolve first by moving beyond change management. We currently speak about change management and maybe change leadership, but I believe we need to make the conversation about The Five Keys to Successful Change™ more pervasive. These five keys are:

  1. Change Planning
  2. Change Leadership
  3. Change Management
  4. Change Maintenance
  5. Change Portfolio Management

When we start moving the conversation beyond change management, we can start focusing as change professionals on achieving excellence in practice in all five areas, creating more efficient and effective tools and techniques for each. The new Change Planning Toolkit™ introduced in my book Charting Change (Feb 2016) is focused on making the planning of a change effort of any size (up to the level of mergers & acquisition, and down to the level of the project) more visual, more collaborative, and more human.

In today’s environment it is innovate or die, and the reason that most organizations are bad at innovation is that they are bad at change. So, the ability to create a culture of continuous change in an organization, and a commitment to empowering employees with the tools, techniques, and mindsets that lead to the creation of a new organizational capability in change for the organization, will lead to THE most important competitive advantage an organization could possibly possess – greater organizational agility.

This evolution of change management will lead to a group of companies with incredible organizational agility and a collection of companies that will join Blockbuster, Montgomery Ward, Borders, and Tower Records not because of mismanagement, but because of a refusal to move beyond change management to embrace The Five Keys to Successful Change™. Which will you be?

Question: Why is change agent involvement essential during a change initiative, and what best practices are there to involve them?

I don’t like the notion of a change agent. Instead I prefer the notion of a change movement inspired by a motivated change leadership team. The notion of the change agent confers the idea that one person can affect lasting change, and that’s just not reality. We might like to attribute a successful change to a single individual, but the truth is that in those situations a movement was created where people eagerly participated in affecting a certain change, where imagination and creativity were captured and harnessed to create a new reality.

The truth is that successful changes are led by a passionate change leadership team with a clear plan that empowers and engages people with a clear, and often tailored, vision for the new reality they hope to create with the broader team. Successful change leadership teams build a clear plan that can be easily shared in order to start creating movement, in order to overcome the inertia of the organization, and then they focus on building and sustaining the momentum necessary to realize the desired transformation, whether that is a “BIG C” change or a “little c” change.

Successful change leadership teams build a shared vision of the change process, and a common language for the change effort, with the support of something like the Change Planning Toolkit™. Unfortunately, 70% of change efforts fail, and one of the big reasons is the lack of alignment, and frankly, an understanding of why the change is necessary, important, and how it might be achieved. At the same time, organizations fail to provide the support necessary to help the change participants successfully adopt the desired change. If you focus on change agents instead of empowered change leadership teams, people will be less likely to adopt the change, or to sustain it. So, choose wisely.

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