Change Agent. photo by Larry Odebrecht
photo by Larry Odebrecht

To be an effective change agent, you must recognize the importance of your own perceptions and the perceptions of those around you. To bring about change and/or solve problems, you must choose to perceive situations in a way that enables you to act as a “player” who is in control rather than a “victim” who accepts bad outcomes without taking ownership.

  • DO NOT
    • Seek direction from others: This is undesirable because change agents achieve results by taking the initiative.
  • Do
    • Give others credit
    • Learn from mistakes
    • Share information before it is needed 

Players and Victims

A player accepts at least partial ownership of a problem to be part of the solution. You want to be a player because players see problems as challenges that they can tackle, and players develop the skills of other people around them to achieve greater accomplishments.

To be an effective change agent, it is important that you are able to bring out the “player” in those around you.

  • Solving problems on your own is incorrect because being a change agent requires that you empower others; you can’t get the job done by yourself.
  • Putting others on the defensive causes them to play the part of the victim, and victims are not likely to take ownership of a problem or contribute to the solution. Change cannot occur where the victim mentality prevails.

Problems and Perception

  • Problems are not things; they are perceptions of things.
  • Different people can perceive the same reality differently.
  • Given a choice, it is favorable to choose a perception that affords you some control over reality.

ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt Certification Change Agent Questions:

Question: A change agent is responsible for helping the organization do which of the following? (Taken from ASQ sample Black Belt exam.)

(A) Overcome fear of the unknown
(B) Reorganize departments
(C) Determine performance criteria
(D) Identify which group is responsible for failures


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A: Overcome fear of the unknown. Here they are looking for the key behavior that enables all other success. Reorganization may come about due to change or a project result, but that is not the primary goal of the change agent. A change agent may determine appropriate performance criteria if the project needs that, but it is not the primary responsibility. While a change agent may do root cause analysis, the focus is on the process, not the people involved.

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