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Rosabeth Kanter's "Change-Agent Bumper Stickers"

If you are behind a car sporting a bumper sticker proclaiming, "Change is a campaign, not a decision," chances are you're stuck behind Harvard Business School's venerable Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

Kanter is a master at creating or appropriating clever phrases that capture decades of her research and teaching in the field of innovation and leadership. She shares seven of her "Change Agent Bumper Stickers" over on Seven Truths about Change to Lead By and Live By.

Here's a sample.

Everything can look like a failure in the middle

  • "I've observed this so often that I call it Kanter's Law. There are numerous roadblocks, obstacles, and surprises on the journey to change, and each one tempts us to give up. Give up prematurely, and the change effort is automatically a failure. Find a way around the obstacles, perhaps by making some tweaks in the plan, and keep going. Persistence and perseverance are essential to successful innovation and change."
If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there
  • "A clear destination is necessary to guide the journey of change. Many change efforts falter because of confusion over exactly where everyone is expected to arrive. In the children's book, Alice in Wonderland, Alice, who is confused anyway, asks the Cheshire cat which road she should take. The magical cat responds with this helpful reminder to pin down your goal first. Zoom in on the destination on your mental map, and then zoom out to pick the best path."
Change is a campaign, not a decision
  • "How many people make vows to improve their diet and exercise, then feel so good about the decision that they reward themselves with ice cream and sit down to read a book? CEOs and senior executives make pronouncements about change all the time, and then launch programs that get ignored. To change behavior requires a campaign, with constant communication, tools and materials, milestones, reminders, and rewards."
All three of these reflect a bias toward action, a central teaching tenet at HBS. Do you have a management philosophy you'd be proud to wear on your bumper?
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