You’re a Change Agent: Bummer of a Birthmark

Laura Basha

Cartoon By: Gary Larson

In a conversation I was having this week, I was struck by the thought of someone who is claiming themselves to be the source of something, the vision-holder of something, someone who is looking for the stops, the places that block progress. I know from my work as an organizational psychologist that when an organizational culture actually begins to shift towards actualizing the vision it says it is, that the blocks that have kept it from being that vision begin to get revealed.

A true change agent is an effective business consultant and more. A true change agent has to hold the vision of the organization in the midst of the organization’s fight to preserve the status quo. The organization will attack the change agent hoping to label her as an outlier and thus expel her from the system.

This basically means you get fired. The art of it though is to manage to stay in the system while holding the vision, with just enough rapport with the old game so as not to raise too much suspicion and consequently be able to stay in the system.

Cultivating anonymity is an art form. Withstanding the pressure the system exerts to maintain the status quo and get rid of you, requires some know-how in not taking things personally.

This has a lot in common with being responsible for creating something. Being the responsible source of something also taunts one’s defense system, provoking it with the possibility of authenticity, which is tantamount to giving one’s ego the black spot for extermination. To ego, possibility is a gauntlet thrown. Years ago I wrote a paper while in graduate school on Being a Change Agent. On the title page I put a copy of a Far Side comic. Two moose are standing upright facing one another. One has a bull’s eye painted on his chest. The other is speaking to him.

The caption is: “Bummer of a Birthmark, Hal”.

So as vision holders, it’s true, we can all responsibly say: “I am the one”.


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