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The Agents Of Change: US Election

Abstract

Problems are part and parcel of every day life and in fact, it is rare to hear that any given individual has absolutely no problem; there are work, social, political, institutional, religious problems, to mention but a few. It is for this reason that we are always seeking effective ways to deal with our problems, and this spurs us into action. This calls for change. Change is often a long and uncomfortable process and most people would avoid it altogether if was up to them. Unfortunately, change makes up for the basic fabric of society and must be embraced.

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In every society, there are often underlying elements that are always at work to effect this change. These elements may knowingly or otherwise, set in motion a series of events that make a difference in the society in which they belong to. In one way or the other, we have played the role of an agent of change by setting the motion for change deliberately or otherwise (Steveson, 2008).

Introduction

Change is the process of moving away form known to unknown tendencies with the hope for a positive and constructive outcome. For change to occur, one must direct the necessary resources to this cause. The most import resource by far is time. Change takes time and often, many possible change agents feel that they may not have that time. Imagine the number of occasions you have wanted to do something about a situation but have perpetually failed to take any action because you are postponing the issue or waving it away because it may take too long.

Main Findings

According to isixsigma.com (2009), a site dedicated to offering business solutions, a change agent is defined as one who takes charge in leading the path to business wide initiatives through the definition, research, development of support and hand picking the necessary human resource to participate in effecting the change. The site further states that effective agents of change must posses exceptional conviction that will enable them to give factual findings even though these findings may not be pleasant. In an organization, it is important to understand that relationships among elements of the organization largely determine how the organization operates. This means that elements cannot function independently but rather as parts of the whole. In such situations, change cannot be linear but nonlinear. Successful organizational change works by exploiting the nonlinearities of behavior, in that every time we register small victories, we tend to gain momentum aimed at bigger victories. The same holds as true as well for losses. It is impossible to look for change in an organization in linear terms because change cannot follow a prescribed path. Sometimes, this path is determined by an external know it all consultant. There will be emerging situations which will call for a change in strategy. Failure to adjust to the situation often leads to failure and eventually, the collapse of the organization (Brenner, 2009). It is therefore important for organizational change to be approached organically by first understanding the complexity of the interaction of individual elements to create a series of behaviors, which have a profound effect on the specific direction of the organization.

As a change agent, one must be ready and willing to share to vision with others. It is hoped that with time, they may join in the cause. The importance of sharing and getting others on board is that the team will act as the “sales team” who will sell the vision and mission to the masses. The team must thus be encourages to take ownership of the goal.

Today, there are dozens of organizations that are geared towards effecting positive global change and/or recognizing the efforts of individuals working towards this goal. On such organization is the Nobel Peace Prize Organization. Earlier in the year, US President Barack Obama won the peace prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” (Nobel Peace Prize, 2009). This was probably one of the most vocal admission of the fact that Barack Obama is notable one of the most known and vocal agent of global change since time immemorial. He appeals to the very core of all humans irrespective of their background by calling for change and seeking solutions to the diverse problems facing mankind. President Obama has been quotes as saying that the organization of the issues facing Americans – healthcare, energy and education, will result in the creation of sustainable solutions leading to economic and social prosperity of the American people (Obama, 2009). This promise, a promise and a call to action wooed many a voter that eventually saw his elevation to power irrespective of the insurmountable odds staked against him. This is a clear indication that people the world over seek the same change because they are faced by the same issues at varying levels. Barack Obama is an effective agent of change because he has time and time again touched right at the issues facing mankind.

Another notable organization is the Global Agents for Change (Global AFC). The Global AFC aims at catalyzing social change and leading the path to sustainable global poverty eradication measure. Furthermore, they seek to inspire the youth the world over to take part in making the world a better place by inventing creative ways through which the youth can participate, explore issues and lead the path to making that change. The most effective action at creating change by this organization is by empowering individuals to have the power to improve their own livelihoods (Global AFC, 2009).

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The Process of Creating Change

Human beings have been known to reject change and being an agent of change puts one in the line of rejection and conflict with others. While it is not an easy task, it is not impossible. Change means that a sequence of actions must occur that will eventually lead to the break of the cycle. First, a desire to move form the status quo, which is characterized by comfort, routines, established patterns of familiarity and relationships must occur (Brenner, 2009). This desire for change must be introduced by a foreign element as it interrupts the continuum of the existing state. It is at this stage that the system rejects and blocks the element due to fear of the unknown, anxiety and at times, anger. It is unheard of for a decline in productivity to be recorded at this point. An agent of change must realize that resistance is not an entirely bad thing. Resistance is not an indication of a poorly executed plan or the failure to cooperate by the masses. It is in fact an indication that progress has been made because the process to move form the known to unknown has began. Notably, resistance is often not a rejection of the plan but rather a resistance against letting go of the status quo, which is comfortable and requires less effort to effect. If all goes well, then people stop resisting the element and begin to actively seek ways in which they can integrate the change into the system. By now they have seen the positive ways in which the change can improve their lives. At the home stretch point, the people need practice, encouragement and support to sustain their new system. Unfortunately or otherwise, life is a cycle. Once the new system is accepted, we are always back to square one; status quo. The need for change will always emerge (Brenner, 2009).

Effecting Change

According to the Welkar Consulting Group (2004), the process of effecting change by being an agent is the same irrespective of the size of the situation. They state that for one, there must be an agent at work. Secondly, the Welkar Consulting Group insists that the change must have an effect that reaches all members of that given community and thirdly, the resultant effect of this action should positively affect the world.

An agent of change must devise an effective strategy. The strategy must be SMART, meaning, it must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. The following stages are important for the strategy for any agent of change:

Identification of the issue

This involves acceptance of the problem and the source of the problem. Once this is clearly stated, the actual problem at hand must be pinpointed by the agent of change. This assists in pointing one in a specific, rather that a general direction. For example, a suburban housewife notices that her electricity bills are running high while a college student finds that despite the fact that the internet has offered insurmountable opportunities that make life easier, internet crime, not to mention spam mail, are part of the package. On further investigation, the housewife realized that the electricity company failed to incorporate consumers whilst making changes while the distraught student learns that security issues on the internet are an entirely personal affair.

Determination of options for solving the problem

This stage involves extensive brainstorming sessions to weigh options available to the agent. For the housewife, lowered electricity bills through involved of consumers in the company’s affairs would be the place to start. The student would have to devise a way of protective his identity over the internet.

Establishment of the right team

The creation of the right team as opposed to any team is critical to the success of the agent. This is because the team will be involved directly in effecting the strategy and thus must be in step with the agent. Furthermore, the change agent is able to compliment and add to the skills he already has.

Creation of an action plan

This is the stage where the way forward is devised. The team should be actively involved at this stage.

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Implementation of the plan

This involves putting the plan into actions. The housewife at this stage should mobilize other electricity users while the student should develop a system through which personal information can be protected on the internet (Weklar Consulting Group, 2004)

Monitoring accountability

Once the plan is in motion, it is important to hold individuals accountable for the parts and roles they have been assigned. At this point, the agent must demonstrate exceptional leadership skills. Strong project management techniques, delegation, effective time management, open communication channels and flexibility of the approach are important aspects to watch during the monitoring phase. It is also important to the leader to encourage and motivate the team to remain focused on the ultimate goal (Weklar, 2004).

Making an impact

This is the ultimate goal of any agent. At this stage, the education of the masses is key and so all possible means and networks of communication to the public should be used. The agent must provide information, motivation, training, incentives, support, opportunity and the necessary support systems. The masses need to be educated so that they can embrace the change. Unfortunately, some agent of change try to change the ideas held by the masses by imposing, not educating. This is as futile as exercising physically on behalf of someone because in the end, only they can make the change. By so doing, the masses will adapt a positive attitude towards change because they will see the possibility of the matter (Recklies, 2009).

How to Become an Agent of Change

Becoming an agent of change is no mean feat. One has to go through the grilling process of self condemnation, unless of course they are alpha humans! It is acceptable for one to have episodes of doubt. This is often caused by the notion that whatever they do is a mere drop in the ocean and is therefore insignificant. Fortunately, it is not (Steveson, 2008). A step at a time and change will come. It is important for an agent of change to posses the following characteristics:

Passion: Passion ensures that the agent has the drive and perseverance to follow through with the plan. Passion is important because it keeps one going irrespective of the odds.

Focus: Focus ensures that the goal remains clear.

Competence: Competence ensures that the agent has the necessary skills to get the job done.

Conclusion

In one way or the other, each human being has a dream of saving the world and making a lasting and positive impact. This holds as true for most humans anyway. We have dreams of being admired for eradicating suffering and putting smiles on the faces of destitute and hopeless people. Others dream of creating a world free of war, characterized by peaceful coexistence among peoples. Personally, I gave up on saving the world. However, I still cling to the hope that I can change the world a day at a time and a child at a time. It all begins with me. What is even more encouraging is that we all are capable of being agents of change in one way or the other. The first step to becoming agent of change in our society is by identifying what we are most passionate about, joining or creating a team that shares in a similar cause and get the right attitude. We just have to get past the “I can’t do it” then the “it can’t be done” stage and the job will be half way through.

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Reference

Brebber, R., (2009).Fifteen tips for agents of change. Web.

Isixsigma (2009). Change Agent. Web.

Nobel Peace Prize (2009). The Nobel Peace Prize. Web.

Obama, B., (2009). Issues. Web.

Recklies, D., (2009).What makes a good agent. Web.

Steveson, D., (2008). What is an agent of change. Web.

Welkar Group (2004). Becoming a change agent. Web.

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