Establishing the Need for Action

Someone must care enough to make it all worthwhile.

Change begins with a care or a concern, a feeling that something is wrong, and that someone should do something to correct that wrong.

  • But where is this concern located?
  • Who has it?
  • How strongly is it felt?

How can we determine if this is the right starting point or the proper rallying cry for action?

Change agents must face such questions squarely before setting out on the 'change' adventure.

Start with these framing questions:

  • What constitutes the “system” to be served?
  • Who are the people who have a common concern?
  • In what sense are these people a "group"?
  • To what extent do they even have an awareness that they have a shared concern?
  • Are these people capable of achieving consensus on what their main concern is?
  • Is this shared concern strong enough to drive the "change" thing, the joint action that can proceed to solutions?

The “AGENT” and the “CARE”

Having established the shared concern, then ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this an appropriate concern for your involvement as a change agent?
  2. Are you really needed?
  3. Do you have a legitimate right [or obligation] to be meddling in the affairs of these people in this way?

The first task of the change agent is to develop some sense of what the concern is, a sense of where the system seems to be hurting, and where the need for change is most pressing. This may be obvious enough from signs and symptoms everywhere. It may be a 'given' if the change agent has been asked to work on a particular problem. But this 'given' may not be what is really the most urgent issue for the system. The change agent needs to look around and to listen to what is being said by different members of the system before determining what the real concern is.