3 Universal Traits of Successful Change Agents

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough, we must do.” – Leonardo da da Vinci (1452-1519);

At TwinSuns, a QuickBase Solution Provider, we’ve been fortunate over the years to work with some remarkable clients – companies that are dynamic and forward-thinking. And within those companies, we’ve been privileged to team up with the folks who are looking to make a positive impact within their organizations – we sometimes call them change agents.  Insofar as our business is developing QuickBase solutions for project management challenges, these change agents are invariably the people who are instrumental in pushing their company forward, whether it’s by moving applications and data to the cloud, driving process improvements, or influencing old ways of thinking. These key people are not necessarily in top management. They can be at any level in a company that fosters innovation. We’ve been able to discern three characteristics that these special people have in common and wanted to share them with you:

  • Innovative but with focus. They don’t just come up with ideas, they know how to apply them as well.  Change agents are curious, experimental, and, as we’ve witnessed with our customers, they try to apply their discoveries to the organization’s goals.  They are not necessarily “techies,” or experts, but are more likely generalists who have the vision of what will make a difference to the company.
  • Diplomatic and organizationally savvy. Rarely do we see a good change agent who is not diplomatic. They are usually very good at working with multiple groups and moving them forward. They usually have a good feel for what it takes to make something happen. Often, they will combine their diplomacy with innovation to develop a “proof of concept” to motivate and impress a cautious boss.
  • Supercharged. Not hyperactive, but motivated with a purpose. With persistent determination, these change agents methodically spread their vision, achieve buy-in, and get the boss on board.  Along the way, they learn the rewards of patience. Even the best ideas can become better by listening to and incorporating the input of others.

We’ve learned that being a change agent is not specific to a job title or area of expertise.  No matter what their position, they have a passion to positively impact their organization, their way of working, and to embrace new tool sets and methodologies to achieve their vision.  We’ve been privileged to grow with these special clients.

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Posted in Change Management, People Management


  • Bwinkler

    I agree with your observations. But even the most effective change agent runs into roadblocks without sponsorship from above. Poor sponsorship ruins even the best projects run by energetic, diplomatic, and innovative leaders. Great sponsors, on the other hand, enable change agents and remove roadblocks to help make vision a reality!

  • Your right. Great point., getting sponsorship on board is key. For us that really falls under diplomacy; making sure what is being done is in line with the management above (and around). What we have found is our best change agents don’t just have ideas, they take chances to demonstrate what can be done, even before getting formal sponsorship. In our world, what is great about QuickBase is that change can start on a small inexpensive level to gain some initial buy-in, but can quickly create momentum to greater levels of sponsorship (very low barrier of entry). Then QuickBase can scale right along to solve bigger problems and reap larger rewards. Also, what we observe is that the sponsors who “get it” are the ones that got where they are because of their own contributions as change agents; so seeking them out is key (and consider making them mentors, but that is a different blog post).

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  • holly doodley

    you smell like ass….

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