Change Agents need to learn to Embrace Change

I have been dealing with major changes most of my life. This blog is dedicated to those who work in the world of change and are not themselves ready to accept and implement changes happening to them. Yes, they exist.

When I was in elementary school (my second to last year) my parents moved from Berkley, MI, to Beverly Hills, MI. That moved me from one school district to another. The new school was further ahead in studies, which significantly put me behind my last year of school. One of the things the new school had already adopted that my old school had not was New Math.

The next year I went to Junior High and then to High School, but of course, the changes affecting were now starting to occurring with frequency.

My parents also traveled/camped a lot when I was a kid and I travelled all over the United States in everything from popup campers to truck campers to fifth wheels to motor homes.

I went to college for a year to Northern Michigan University and then moved back home and went to work. I wasn’t very dedicated in college. I went to a few classes at night with Oakland Community College. These were my first two colleges that I attended up to this point. All total, I attended 11 colleges since graduating high school.

At home, for about three years, I worked seven different jobs. After jumping around from job to job, I finally decided to join the Air Force at the age of 22. Basic Training was only four weeks then and I was over to technical training for another four weeks. At least those two trainings were at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. Then I was in a month of pipeline training at Fort Dix, NJ–Ground Combat Skills Training.

My first real Air Force assignment was in Ft Worth, TX, at Carswell AFB. There I worked the longest in one job–three years. Even though I spent six years at Carswell, I had five separate jobs, to include being one of the last 30 active duty members that closed the active duty portion of that base. In the two years I was at my next assignment in the states, Vandenberg AFB, CA, I worked on the flight line for six months and then as the Staff NCO for a year and a half.

It was then off to an undisclosed location in Turkey for a year–at least there I only did one job, although I did try to get on the staff while I was there, which would have been two different jobs in one year.

After Turkey, I ended up in Germany in the USAFE Elite Guard at Ramstein AB, but I was only there for eight months and retrained from Security Forces to Manpower and Quality and moved from the headquarters to the wing staff. In another less than three years, I was up at headquarters staff again, but not after having two very distinctly different jobs on the wing staff (running the wing’s quality training program to being a dedicated manpower and quality consultant to four units). In the two years I was at the headquarters, I also did a year in two jobs…one running competitive sourcing and privatization and the other managing the major command’s strategic planning activities.

My last assignment was here in San Antonio, TX, at Lackland AFB–specifically Security Hill and Air Intelligence Agency. In my six years there, until I retired, I did two years in plans and programs as the senior war planner for Air Force Intel, two years as the superintendent of a speech writing and special projects staff for the general, and two years running their premier enlisted awards program.

Even after retirement, I was only in Booz Allen Hamilton for three years before I ended up at USAA, where I have been for two years and I’m now working a totally different job there then I started.

All total, I attended 11 different colleges, lived in 8 different cities, visited to 14 countries and 43 states, and I’ve lost count of the number of jobs I have held.

That’s a lot of change. When I was really young, I wouldn’t say I handled or embraced the change, but by the time I was in the Air Force, I actually started to look forward to the change. Today, I find myself uniquely suited for my job as a change agent.

Now I know my experiences are not typical, but if you have chosen a role in work as a change agent–you work in strategy, change, process, performance, project managent, or the like–you should be expected to not just accept change, but champion it.

When change affects you…how do you handle it?

As a change agent, let me apply a little Prosci ADKAR questioning to you:

Are you currently aware of what is going on in your organization strategically that has fully prepared you for possible change?

Do you recognize that in all change, there are great opportunities and have you built your desire to change by examining the positive aspects of any potential changes, versus dwelling on the negative?

Have you spent the time ensuring you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to accept and embrace whatever change comes your way, giving you the ability to make the change quickly and step up to whatever opportunity is presented?

Do you recognize that all change is good if you focus on the positive and not the negative?

If you are a change agent–you exist in a line of work that drives changes to others and you should be able to answer yes to all of these questions.

If you cannot answer yes, or you are going through a change that you are negative about and other change agents have to do everything in their power to lead you through the change, you need to reconsider your role. It is your job to devise and implement change. You, more than anyone, should be fully prepared to accept and implement change that affects you.

I have seen people that are not ready, but are in the role of a change agent.

To those people–you know who you are because of how you answered the questions above–either change how you react to change or change jobs. It really is that simple. As a change agent, you need to always be ahead of and ready to implement any change that impacts you in the same way expect it from others. This will help you better understand how to help others implement change and become more change ready.

I know that many people out there might have not had such a change-filled life as I have. However, you have chosen a field that is built on change–embrace it or get off the bus.


About johnrknotts
John Knotts is a results-oriented business professional leader, manager, and supervisor with experience from the military, small business, several nonprofits, and is currently a management consultant. Working out of the San Antonio, Texas, he retired from the Air Force in July 2008 and worked with Booz Allen Hamilton from the end of October 2008 to December 2011. Now he is a Strategic Business Adviser with USAA. John leads large and small strategic transformations and has extensive experience in the areas of change management, strategic planning, process improvement, strategic communication and marketing, strategic human capital and resource management, education and training, facilitation, organizational design and development, modeling and simulation, financial and budget analysis, activity based costing and management, quality management, competitive sourcing and privatization, leadership development, and business development.

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