Sally had worked for several years as a service technician for a company that sold and leased industrial forklifts. She didn't mind her work, but she really disliked the company for which she was working. "They never listen to us lowly peons in the service department," she complained. "All of the attention, and all of the rewards, go to the sales reps. They get the big bucks, and the service department, which is the group of people who really keep the customers happy with out products, get little attention or rewards. Our work could be so much more effective and profitable if the bosses would only listen to our ideas and spend a little time, effort, and, yes, money, to improve how we work. But it's never going to change."
For the first several weeks of the class, every time we discussed ways of improving organizational performance, Sally chimed in with these same remarks. After several weeks of listening to her complain, I asked her what she was doing to make change happen. "Nothing much," she replied. "They'll never listen to me." I gave her a pep talk -- nothing was going to change unless she made it change. She had to make her case to top management, describing in detail what she wanted to change, what it was going to cost, and what benefits the company would garner from the changes.
I didn't have Sally in any of my other classes during the next two years. I was surprised to get a call from her as she was getting ready to do her capstone project, as required for the master's degree. Would I be on the review committee for her? Of course I would.
When I got her paper to review, I was amazed. She had taken to heart the advice that I had given her (and which other professors had probably given her as well) and had become the change agent. She was no longer a service technician, but had become a consultant to the company's owner/CEO. All the ideas she had talked about to improve the company's service operations -- well, she had implemented every single one of them and then gone on to find more ways of improving the company's business. Both sales and service revenues had increased sharply due to her efforts. And her former colleagues in the service department were much happier in their work.
The final proof of her success was that her CEO came to her final presentation on the project and gave her a rave review.
So, what are you doing to implement the ideas you have? How are you applying what you learn to your job? Do you just sit around and complain about everything that needs changing, or have you, as did Sally, become the change agent to make your ideas real?