Friday, January 21, 2011

What's Your Cultural Change Character?

It's recently come to my attention that I might be a curmudgeon.

It's alarming. When I think of that word, I think of an old man (in my case) railing against the status quo and generally longing for simpler times, which generally occurred when he was young. And, if you did not agree with him, you're an idiot.

This realization dawned on me as I read Alan Atkisson's Believing Cassandra. It was given to me a few years ago and promptly lost in the best intentions of my sustainable reading pile. I wish I'd read it sooner; it does a good job of addressing the reasons I play the curmudgeon (bordering on iconoclast) far too often and offers tools to help me take on other roles that I might like.

Take a look at the figure above, the Anatomy of Culture Change. Does the curmudgeon really help move something forward? Is that where one would like to be when it comes to creating a sustainable future (moving a new idea forward)? No. There are times when I act the change agent, and maybe the transformer (depending upon mood) but the curmudgeon takes over all too often.

Take a look at Mr. Atkisson's terms for culture change types [emphasis mine and you may note similarities to types from Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm]:
  • Innovators: person or group who invents, discovers, or otherwise initiates a new idea
  • Change Agents: people who actively and effectively promote new ideas
  • Transformers: early adopters - gatekeepers for an idea making it to the mainstream
  • Mainstreamers: the majority of the culture
  • Laggards: late adopters - satisfied with the status quo; change when they have to
  • Reactionaries: actively resist change - may have a vested interest in the status quo
  • Iconoclasts: angry critics of the status quo; nay-sayers not idea-generators
  • Spiritual Recluse: contemplatives that withdraw to seek, and preach, eternal truths
  • Curmudgeons: change efforts are useless; they project disillusionment & disappointment and can derail change efforts
So where do you fit now? Have you taken the initiative with something, attempting to bring it into a new place? Maybe you're ambivalent to it all, and will await whatever happens, riding the waves of change that make it to the middle of the road.

The real question is...

Who are you and what role do you want to play?

1 comment:

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