10 Ways to Build Change Agency 

Posted by: NHS Horizons - Posted on:

Originally published by Leigh Kendall – 6th December 2021

There are many ways to build change agency. Some of those ways are detailed on this sketchnote I created a few years ago, with input from my NHS Horizons colleagues, for The School for Change Agents.  

These are the 10 ways that we can build our change agency listed on the sketchnote: 

1. Create small changes one step at a time. Remember how you eat elephants (don’t worry, they’re metaphorical)! 

2. Emphasise progress Change can often take a long time to effect, and there will be times when you feel disheartened. Remembering how far you have come and recognising your progress will help you to keep going. 

3. Reframe your thinking Many of us are hard-wired to believe that failure and uncertainty are scary and wrong. Change happens outside of our comfort zone, so we need to change the way we think, for example, failure provides us with learning opportunities, and uncertainty can become curiosity about the world of possibilities. 

4. Find your crew, a group of people unified by a provocative idea. It’s about finding your people, harnessing your shared power, abilities, and experiences and working together to make change happen. 

5. Get social support You can’t be a change agent on your own! Make connections with people in your organisation, and/or make use of social media to find like-minded people. You can provide mutual support to one another. 

6. Make change routine rather than an exceptional activity. We’re all changing and evolving. Always be contemplative, explorative, curious! 

7. Learn from the best Do some research and find out how someone you admire achieved their goals. If possible, reach out to them and ask for advice – most people are happy to help and advise. 

8. Think story – what are you doing? Why are you doing it? How will you tell your story, your narrative in a way that draws people in, and compels them to take action? 

9. Build a spectrum of allies – and not just the people who support what you do! It’s natural to connect just with your friends, but thought diversity is really important. Don’t dismiss people who disagree with you – engage with them. They can have some crucial points that help you move towards achieving your goal. 

10. Persist! Achieving successful change takes time, and you’re likely to experience hurdles and mishaps along the way. Pick yourself up and keep going. 

The sketchnote features in the current run of School on FutureLearn and has been generating lots of conversation. Participants have been asked whether they agree with the points, whether there are any that particularly resonate, or that they don’t recognise. Some reflections are below:   

“Emphasising progress – I find it so easy to accept the way things are now, forgetting that things weren’t always this way. If I feel we’re not making enough progress, looking at how far we have come is a useful exercise that I really could do more of!” 

“I cannot agree more with engaging those that disagree with you. So often those who disagree have valuable feedback that needs genuine consideration to make lasting change. You cannot be effective in an echo chamber.” 

“Number 8, tell your story is something that resonates with me, humans have been using narrative story telling for millennia and it is the most powerful tools for garnering support and getting people to take action. Narrative comes in many forms it is important to make the narrative meaningful to the audience.” 

“The bit about failure being a learning opportunity, and not having everything be perfect from the off really sticks with me. There’s a tendency to want to try and delay change until everything is ‘just right’ but sometimes it will never be the perfect time and you just have to get on with it and learn as you go.” 

Over to you: what do you think? If you haven’t yet signed up for School you still can – and join in the conversation (it appears in week 3)!  

For more updates on the School check out our social media – 

Instagram: Horizonsnhs  

Twitter: Sch4Change  

Facebook: The School for Change Agents