Although such distinctions are not always clear, change agents have long debated the relative advantages of beginning as an insider or an outsider. When all the pros and cons are tallied, however, neither position seems to be clearly superior. A recounting of the major advantages and disadvantages of each may be helpful.
THE INSIDE CHANGE AGENT
The insider has these advantages
The insider also has these disadvantages
THE OUTSIDE CHANGE AGENT
The outsider has these advantages
The outsider also has these disadvantages
THE INSIDE-OUTSIDE TEAM
In order to capitalize on the advantages and avoid the problems of both insider and outsider, many experienced change agents have suggested that the best solution is a "change agent team" in which both insiders and outsiders work together. Thus, the insider who is initiating a change effort would do well to enlist someone from the outside to work as a collaborator. Such an outside person could provide an "expert" legitimacy for the insider's efforts in addition to contributing some real expertise. This outsider could provide an objective perspective on the world in which the inside change agent is working. And the outside expert could give moral support to the insider whose efforts to do what is "right" for the system are being received by colleagues with something less than enthusiasm.
Conversely, the outsider who initiates change would do well to enlist the inside support of some member who both understands the client system and is familiar with the change process. Preferably, this insider would be someone with reasonable security and status within the system, either as a leader, an influential, or a gatekeeper. Any selection of members for the inside-outside team should try to maximize the strengths of both positions in the service of innovation.
Depending on the resources, change teams can bring in members and advisors to serve a number of different functions: special content expertise, legitimacy with one or another faction, or skills in group process or change process. Change agents and change teams may themselves find it very desirable to involve outside process consultants.
The website's content is relevant to today's business, education, government and non-profit organizations as they attempt to implement new ideas and innovations in their organizations. It also provides case studies to help help understand the roles of Change Agents and the processes related to Change.