Why Does Change Management Sound So Boring?


Ideas are great.  Implementation is better. Here’s an idea:  I’ll give you 3 job titles, and you choose the one you’d most like to have.[su_spacer]

  • Change Agent
  • Innovation Catalyst
  • Change Management Consultant

You didn’t choose Change Management Consultant, did you?

Somehow, ‘Change Agent’ and anything with the word ‘innovation’ in it sound a lot more exciting than ‘Change Management’. And yet, in many ways, change management is the most important part of the process.

Last week I met a fellow whose business card said he was a ‘Change Agent’.  He was everything you’d expect someone with that title to be:  30-something, fashionable clothes, great sunglasses and full of information about the latest hot topics on TechCrunch and Mashable.

Of course, I’m always interested in anything to do with ‘change’, so I started asking him what he did on a day-to-day basis.  “Oh, you know,” he said.  “I inject ideas into the organizational framework and help us transform the marketplace.”

He did have some interesting ideas – he’s definitely thinking about where his industry will be in the next 5-10 years, and how the market will change in that time.  That kind of thinking is important for any organization.

And that’s where Change Management comes in.  The problem is that ‘management’ never seems that exciting – especially compared with ‘injecting ideas’.

That’s why I like to think in terms of architecture.  Architects take someone else’s Big Idea – “I want a beautiful house on this piece of land” – and then figure out how to make the big picture work wtih the small details to get it done.  They show you the model of the building with the graceful facade – and then they show you the detailed construction plans which outline how the thing is going to be built.  And then a good architect oversees the process, from the first groundbreaking to the final landscape design.

There’s no question that there’s something inherently exciting about coming up with a brand new idea for change – it’s like starting a new notebook with nothing but possibilities ahead.  But in the long run there’s something much more satisfying about being able to take an idea from conception to fruition to results that being an ‘agent’ or ‘catalyst’ just can’t touch.

Beth Banks Cohn
Beth Banks Cohn
BETH is dedicated to helping individuals and companies implement business changes that actually work. Beth believes in the ripple effect – that change handled well benefits everyone in an organization, over and over again. As a recognized expert in change as well as corporate culture, Beth consults domestically and internationally with a wide range of disciplines and businesses. Beth is the author of two books: ChangeSmart™: Implementing Change Without Lowering your Bottom Line and Taking the Leap: Managing Your Career in Turbulent Times…and Beyond (with Roz Usheroff).


  1. Where the rubber hits the road is always where the issues lie. It’s easy to come up with ideas. It’s much harder putting them into practice. Way harder.

    I worked with people like you described. I have some stellar stories.

      • There was a person that was a self proclaimed leader. During the meetings, he would ask open ended questions so the conversation would go the way he wanted it to go. Before each meeting he would think for two hours what his three or four big questions were. Then during the meeting he would ask them. Being a self proclaimed leader he didn’t realize that what he was doing was not see positively by those he worked with. They never saw his questions useful for the conversation. Instead, each time he offered a question the rest saw this self proclaimed leader as smug and disengaging.

        This gentleman saw himself as a futurist and spouted it proudly that he could ask the right questions. Though he was a nice fellow, his perception of himself was a stark contrast to what others had of him.

        The guy definitely talked the talk. And sometimes this can be a bad thing. One day he was put in charge of a new business improvement that would align the whole organization. And he did what he thought he should do, he spent weeks preparing the right questions so everything would launch right.

        When the project launched, it crashed and burned. The futurist with his questions wasn’t seen as a leader. This resulted in a huge political power power play of who was going to be in charge. For the next three weeks, people were throwing people under the bus. It started with the consultants, then with the employees.

        The mess happened because the powers of be confused the futurist’s confidence with competence.

        • Ouch! Thanks so much Chris. That is a wonderful story of misplaced leadership. Too bad no one ever had the courage to tell him how he was really perceived. Thanks for sharing this (painful) story.