Becoming a change agent

Posted by David Meerman Scott 09:03 AM on January 26, 2011

Shutterstock_typewriter Becoming a change agent at your company or with your clients is tough. There is always risk when you challenge the entrenched status quo.

But the rewards for being a recognized pioneer can be tremendous.

We are going through a communications revolution no different than when the telephone first entered the workplace a century ago.

Many people tell me that they have bosses who are just plain resistant to change. Or fearful. Or stubborn. Or all three.

Or it's the PR department, the HR people, or the lawyers who say "no".

Amazingly, a huge number of companies still block employee access to social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

That's crazy. Imagine blocking the telephone? Or the fax machine? Or email?

If you work for a company that is not engaging its marketplace in the ways that buyers demand, I think you have three choices:

1. You can become a change agent.

This is difficult but potentially very rewarding. The role of change agent comes with risks because the entrenched powers will fight you.

In 2002, I was fired from my job as VP of Marketing at a division of the Thomson Corporation partly because I was a vocal advocate for new marketing in a business that was in love with direct mail and tradeshows.

While you risk getting sacked, if you successfully bring a company into the world of modern communications, you have potential to be promoted, get a raise, and become a hero.

2. You can live with the status quo.

There's nothing inherently wrong with living with what others tell you to do and not challenging what you know to be wrong. When you’ve got a family and obligations, particularly in a tough economy, putting your livelihood at risk may not be the right thing. But you will take an emotional toll.

Can you live with yourself if you're ducking into the restroom to hide in a stall with a mobile so you can update your social sites?

3. You may want to find another job.

I know people who have decided to leave companies solely because of the draconian social networking policies. They choose to leave a company where they have friends, have worked for years, and whose products they love.

In a particularly radical move, I know some who have quit without another job lined up. Many of those people have started their own thing and most have succeeded.

You've got a choice.

You can become an agent of change. The rewards can be great, but so are the risks.

Image: Shutterstock / grafvision

David Meerman Scott

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