Change Agent Essentials

The Change Agent Essentials are the mechanisms through which a change agent unlocks and harnesses the immense power in ourselves, other individuals and organizations—power that until now has been hiding in plain sight.

—April K. Mills, Everyone Is a Change Agent


Change Agent Essential #1 – Drive Change, Not People

Driving Change is choosing a change for yourself and clearing the obstacles for others to choose it too. We choose this over Driving People—using coercion to compel others to change.


Change Agent Essential #2 – Create and Maintain Change Buffers

A Change Buffer is explicit, different thoughts, behaviors, or policies that allow the change agents and the change to vary from the status quo people and environment. Imagine a seawall holding back the waves of Driving People from an island of Driving Change. Change Buffer types include celebration, friendship, leadership, mindset, personal, and policy.


Change Agent Essential #3 – Set a Concrete Goal

A Concrete Goal is change attributes summarized into one statement following this pattern:

<Who> will <experience> <what> <where> <when>.


Change Agent Essential #4 – Map the Terrain

Two key parts: Checking for Settlers and Drawing Your Boundaries.

Settlers are the people who “live on the land” of your change, whose lives will be affected by it. Settler types include current, missing, past, and downstream.

Drawing your boundaries involves defining clearly what the limits are of your Concrete Goal so others don’t assume you are set on world domination or aren’t left waiting for you to create a change for them.


Change Agent Essential #5 – Challenge Assumptions

Challenging Assumptions includes several tricks to ensure we are honoring other perspectives and challenging our own. Four key challenges to assumptions are assume their perspective is valid, assume we are only seeing a piece of the whole, assume others have positive intentions, and assume responsibility for unintended consequences.


Change Agent Essential #6 – Focusing on Sustainment

Focusing on Sustainment includes considering how you will sustain buffers, funding, partners, and systems once the change shifts from the implementation to the sustainment stage.


Change Agent Essential #7 – Try

Trying is finding the courage and confidence to act as a change agent, to drive the change you want without waiting for someone else to do something someday.

For more on the Change Agent Essentials, read Everyone Is a Change Agent.

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