As promised, here are types of people within organisations. From the perspective of inducing change and building a network of allies. This is meant to be only half-funny.
The Professional – built a career on being good at what he does, can’t throw it all away, difficult to convince, especially if close to retirement and enjoying running the show (subset – professional executive). In times of change a follower, not the innovator or even an early adopter.
The Old Skool – had his moment of innovation in the past, introduced technology or associated with some other success. Resting on laurels a real temptation. However, can sometimes spot the same pattern in new changes and be a solid ally.
The Visionary – excited about new stuff, has far reaching ideas about how things will be (or should be!). Older visionary verges on obsession with the one idea that they have been pondering elaborating for years. Seemingly best ally but often lets down on execution (predictably) but also (surprisingly) on flexibility and curiosity. If still young, the zeal can be harnessed and help to get others on board.
The Maverick – holed up somewhere where he can do things his way, created a bubble where his ways are accepted/tolerated. Depending on power available to him can be either a grouchy sceptic watching from the sidelines (little or no power) or a true ally doing what he can (executive position). Obviously, the latter is a rare breed as not many companies have true mavericks in executive positions.
The Process Worshipper – the Agent Smiths of the system. Dangerous, if often well meaning. Focus on working the system and making everyone do the same. His approach to change is finding (or creating) a pipeline that could deliver it. Often relies on external third parties (agencies) for innovation and delivery. Draw strength and self-worth from following and imposing rules. Efficiency, metrics, objectives, deliverables is the mantra. Comes in several varieties e.g. the Language Abuser – uses buzzwords, phrases, charts without much meaning to create an air of importance. The Deliverer – applies himself to efficient implementation without much understanding of the big picture and what is needed. Competent and potentially helpful if the process-magic can be dispelled in his mind.
The Tech Whizzkid – early adopter of all things ‘digital’. Often understands original versions of the internet and hardware and software but equally often suffers from the not-made-here syndrome. Occasionally has Microsoft religion, in which stay away for he’ll want to standardise and impose uniform apps, platforms and whatnot! Can turn into a deadly enemy of change as he doesn’t want to lose his techie status.
The Geek – wants to know how things work, has no delusions about his ability to operate within the system and play power games. When in the office gets on what he knows best (and is paid for), then spends his free time learning and experimenting. Once convinced that his ‘outside the job’ skills and knowledge relevant, can be an enthusiastic and very competent ally.
The Technophobe - easily spotted thanks to apologetic statements “I am not really good at this technological stuff” combined with proud obsolescence. Usually have a good mind, with insistence on understanding things. Technophobia a result of bad experience or bad luck with technology that has no meaning for them. Once shown what technology can do for them, they become enthusiastic and very helpful allies indeed. Worth ‘converting’ but focus on usefulness and their capabilities essential.
The Disillusioned – spent years, if not decades in the job. Shed ambitions and dreams, but hasn’t been completely assimilated as the dissatisfaction nibbles away at his self-esteem. Feels hollow and worthless, scared of the future for he knows what it looks like. Secretly but passionately hates the system, the organisation, the meetings, presentations, business speak, away-days, socialising with colleagues etc. Can go two ways, either, hide it, trying to fit in, or turn into a maverick and the system-basher. Without much hope, of course,. His lack of confidence comes from the contrast of what could have been and what is. Sense of helplessness pervasive. Once understands the potential that change can bring, the best possible ally. This will become his hope for a better future and will participate ceaselessly. Anything to do with transformation can only be pried away from his dead cold hands.
The Biz or Sales Fiend – successful, hard and fast money-making machine. loves status and the accoutrements of business life, which he finds glamorous. works hard, plays hard. expects everyone to be pushed beyond endurance, including himself. thrives on deadlines, whether meeting them or setting them for others. no time for introspection, let alone the big picture. the meaning comes from a) richer and even more successful boss b) business school c) his ability to make more money and bully others. So why change? only worth engaging towards his twilight years when the buzz might have worn off and other things may be appearing on his radar. Or not.
There is more and this is work in progress. Feel free to add your versions!