To generate change, explicitly identify and empower change agents

Edited direct message sent to me by a Seeking Alpha contributor:

Just wanted to send a message congratulating you on your hard choice to transition the economics of Seeking Alpha from advertising to subscriptions, as well as correlating contributor pay to them. Not easily done or explained. Might be helpful to hear what Microsoft’s experience was with respect to reorganizations, which they used to re-invigorate their company every 18 months over a span of 30 yrs.

They determined that the employee base is typically split in thirds:

  • 1/3 resisted change, feeling threatened by it
  • 1/3 embraced change, felling it provided opportunity
  • 1/3 were on the fence.

The Microsoft strategy each time was to identify these groups early on:

  • 1/3 who embraced change were identified and promoted making them internal change agents.
  • Many of those that were pre-identified as resistant were let go. Those that continued to resist were either let go, demoted or transferred to a less impactful areas.
  • Those that were on the fence were then influenced by the change agents becoming valuable contributors

The logic of this strategy was explained to me by their Corporate Counselor who was a contractor hired by them to facilitate the process.

Notes:
(i) This advice certainly fits a company when it’s going through strategic change. But perhaps it always fits.
(ii) On promoting people, see Promote Fast.
(iii) On titles for promoting people, see Two approaches to titles and promotions.

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