Change Networks

A network, by definition, is a group or system of interconnected people or things. In a Change Management setting, we often times create a people-based network to introduce business change to the organization.  Change Networks provide many benefits, one of which is to increase adoption to the new way of doing business. These networks go by many names – Change Champion Network and Change Agent Network being two of the most common based on my experience.

I recently provided recommendations on a client’s existing Change Network. We collaborated to clarify the network’s roles and responsibilities, established stricter selection criteria to identify new network members, and revised existing methods used to support network activities. During my review I discovered a quote that I planned to use during a presentation to the group:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

The quote was familiar* – I’d read similar version of this before in other places – even once on a bottle cap – and thought it would jump start a good discussion with the group such as: What about this quote rings true or false? Is it succinct or oversimplified? I personally believe it misses an important factor related to adaptability. For a species to survive and successfully adapt to its new environment, it must first be able to recognize the environment to which it needs to adapt.

So how does this relate to the original topic, which was Change Networks? Change Networks can help organizations succeed at both factors – by helping to identify the environment in which the change will occur AND by helping employees in the organization adapt to that change. Change Networks do this by:

  • Engaging directly with the people in the organization
  • Framing the change in language that teams can understand
  • Supporting individuals to address the natural resistance encountered during the change

Change Network activities, when supported by a structured Change Management methodology, can foster successful adoption of the new environment.

*Upon further research it turns out Charles Darwin never actually said this! Rather, someone else paraphrased his thoughts 81 years after his death.