• Simon Phillips

Why Having Your Own Change Makers Makes Sense



We probably don’t need to tell you that the world is in a period of enormous social, economic, political and environmental upheaval. Many of you will be familiar with the term VUCA to describe the world we live in, meaning volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. With the current rapid pace of change, we now find ourselves in a world better described as VUCA+! Understandably, we are seeing political and business leaders engaging in a collective round of loud and intense yodelling. Navigating these choppy waters is a huge challenge to our existing social, economic and political paradigms.

In this climate, any organisation that fails to keep pace with the rate of change is destined to ultimate failure, just like a Victorian pier standing unmaintained in rough seas, while once strong and ornate, is inevitably going to decay and then crumble into the waves.

Of course, this statement has always been true to some extent, but it is more relevant now than ever before. Consider this – in less VUCA times, it used to be relatively simple for organisations to coast along doing the same thing year after year and still survive for considerable periods of time. Unfortunately, it is increasingly obvious that with the present dramatic and rapid rate of change, this is no longer the case. Think about some examples of the unprecedented change that is taking place at the moment - Brexit in the UK, political turmoil in Venezuela, government shutdowns in the US, climate strikes by children in Europe.

Against this backdrop, lack of adaptability to change is going to kill many more organisations as the environment becomes tougher and less sympathetic.

So, just like our early ancestors had to use their ingenuity to find and procure food sources in an unsympathetic environment in order to live, the route to survival for any organisation today is to become able to keep pace with the rate of change while also having the ability to innovate in response to a hostile and changing environment. For this to work, change and innovation need to be fundamental parts of day-to-day organisational culture.

The problem in achieving this for most organisations will be very simple but very serious – organisations tend, as a rule, to “do change” in fits and starts. It’s rarely a fundamental part of organisational culture. Change is generally viewed as a one-off activity, so organisations set up change projects, transformation programmes, lean initiatives and all manner of other mechanisms to make organisational change happen. They run these initiatives, then stop, then wait a little while before realising they need to make another change, or the previous change didn’t work out and start the cycle all over again.

It’s comparable to our aforementioned ancestors approaching the problem of discovering that no-one in the tribe has eaten for five days and that they are on the verge of starvation by identifying an opportunity to capture, kill and eat an animal which would provide for their needs, then sitting down and planning in meticulous detail how they will take advantage of it. By the time they’ve set up a project team and handed out tasks, the animal has long since fled and everyone is still starving.

This slow and cumbersome approach to change simply won’t do in such a fast paced and unpredictable environment as the one we are entering in 2019. There isn’t sufficient headroom. By the time you’ve set up your new transformation programme the variables that drove you to plan out a change programme may very well have altered again.

Understandably, this situation is making many people very, very nervous. What do you do when things are moving so rapidly that the tried and tested methods of making change no longer work as well, if at all? How do you survive in an environment as inhospitable and unpredictable as this?

It’s all very, very scary, isn’t it?

Well, no actually.

At The Change Maker Group, we’ve been thinking about this for a long time. We’ve learned from experience that the solution to this problem is to create your own internal Change Makers. A Change Maker is someone who has a desire to make change happen, who understands what kind of Change Maker they are and knows how to use their change-making strengths, skills and resilience to influence and make change happen within their organisation.

The good news is – you certainly have people like this within your organisation. You don’t need to buy in expensive resource to get started. And surprisingly, potential Change Makers will exist at all levels, from administrators up to C-suite executives.


The problem to date is your organisation is unlikely to have taken advantage of them. They are probably not contributing to or driving change because the opportunity and the development hasn’t been available to them. Just imagine the unutilised potential of these individuals within your organisation. What might they achieve?

By identifying these individuals and setting them free to work together in self-managed teams, playing to their strengths, to deliver innovation and change within the organisation you create a culture where change is an integral part of daily business.

Instead of change being a formalised, time-bound activity, your internal Change Makers will be generating ideas, working out how they might work in practice, testing them, polishing them and working alongside colleagues to integrate the very best ones into day-to-day operations. Some of these ideas will be small shifts in response to changing market conditions. Some may be tiny operational improvements. Some will be huge, game-changing leaps forward.

In most organisations, these ideas never see the light of day. But in organisations that create their own Change Makers, these ideas become the heartbeat of the organisation’s response to an uncertain and continually evolving environment. The result is dynamic, responsive and continuous change in a positive, engaging and action-oriented culture.

The key learning we want to share is this - people working in organisations need to be developed to make the most of their attributes as Change Makers, generating ideas, dealing with the challenges facing them, being resilient in adversity and making the most of scarce resources.

At The Change Maker Group, we have committed to create 1 million Change Makers. Our aim is to create Change Makers within organisations, who then make change for themselves using their own people and ultimately without needing us. By enabling people to understand what their impact on change is, arming them with the right skills, and giving them resilience to cope with the fact that making change is difficult, they will learn to make the healthiest use of their strengths for the benefit of both the organisation and themselves.

Success for us is about being able to walk away from an organisation where change has become self-sustaining and we are no longer needed.

We know that we will never achieve our mission to create 1 million Change Makers through commercial work alone. So we are also embarking on charitable efforts to create Change Makers that can drive positive social and community change. This way we will support our triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. Rather than paying shareholders, we use our profits to create even more Change Makers.

Why are we doing this? Because the world has never needed Change Makers more than it does today. And the same applies to your organisation.

So, having your own Change Makers makes sense. Do you know who your Change Makers are and how they can help your organisation deal with the challenges now and in the future? Do they have the development and support they need to be effective and resilient?

You need your Change Makers now more than ever.


Get in touch and we’ll get you started – john@thechangemakergroup.com.


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