Knowledge, Passion and Power: 3 Simple Change Principles to Release It

Photo by Trace Hudson on

Leverage is a reason that leaders use when choosing to work in collaboration as well as hire consultants, who have the skills of helping leaders see multiple perspectives.  This is especially an asset when dealing with difficult, complex, even wicked problems. 

This quote rings true in our experience with change projects:   “If knowledge is power, clandestine knowledge is power squared; it can be withheld, exchanged, and leveraged.” ~ Letty Cottin

Open Space at the 2012 Trusted Change Advisors session
Open Space at the 2012 Trusted Change Advisors session, Deb Nystrom facilitator, Liz Guthridge panel facilitator


If knowledge is power, clandestine knowledge is power squared; it can be withheld, exchanged, and leveraged. ~ Letty Cottin


What are some simple, yet robust ways that to think about how change happens in change implementation/transformation projects?

The change books are legion in number, yet it’s helpful to revisit a few, simple change principles I often use to complement the work of the theorists and change writers that we have met and use.

The word cloud below captures the key themes of this post, in a word/visual image as well:
Wordle: Change is vertical

Tool used:  Wordle

These change approaches include principles learned from Kathie Dannemiller in WholeScale Change, Daryl Conner in change execution and transformation, and John Kotter for his actionable, clear 8 step process.

Here are my current three change principles at the top of my lists:

1)   Custom Knowledge: Leverage purpose and passion in the microcosm.

Gathering people, key stakeholders, from the organization into a microcosm enables change agents to hear and customize the change approach to use the culture and systems appropriately to leverage early change work.

Beginning work on purpose, connection, passion and yearnings begins here, as well as the first, practical steps to put these into action – such as examining current priorities and trends, and reviewing customer relationships and interests.

A quote that works well with this is:  “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Photo credit: by mikecogh via – CC

2)   Passion: Co-create by getting the whole system in the room.

Whole system work enables change leaders to:

a) walk the talk that people will own and implement what they’re helped to create,

b) demonstrate “live,” with stories and data how to deal with the early snares to increase the success rate of change project and

c) set free productive energy which also helps deal with baggage from previous implementations that may have failed,

d) build the sense of urgency, the business imperative, and the excitement and vision for the change. 

For the big investment of time of creating such an event, it’s worth it to do a LOT with many (the whole system) in the service of clarity of purpose, vision, upheld with evidence of  smart execution soon after.


Time and time again, …I see that the change journey is not out there, it’s inside. ~ Deb Nystrom


Time and time again, demonstrated by the executive coaching side of my work, I see that the change journey is not out there, it’s inside, forming the plan, adapting to what is needed now and next, demonstrating agility with other leaders and followers.  Theory U & other collaborative change approaches can help.

I often do presentations to share my learning and resources, and usually walk away with new “co-created” learning that takes me to another level of understanding about my topic.

3)   Talk on Message Consistently: Leverage the macrocosm with great communication, data and stories to build visible traction.

Ensure the best communication tools available (social media and traditional) to share quick wins and early signs of success, persistently, while testing that the organization demonstrates clarity and consistency of message for the change. 

Great communication about progress, or the lack of it (transparency), at the level of belief and energy can build into sustainable change.  

A pulse style change survey approach from a business colleague here illustrates the types of data, as well as reactions to change that can build powerful stories to respond to the change killers:  apathy & compliance, in order to overcome the 70% failure rate in change.

Examples change stories at a personal level (where all change stories start) & co-creating change are here:

Finally, when you select from your OWN successful experience with change ~ what has worked best?

  • What principles and lessons learned appear at the top of your list?
  • What key words explain your favorite change principles?

~ Deb

Find out more about Deb’s work with Open Space  and change via her recent blog post here:

Open Space on Speed: Social Business with the Coaches, Results! Video

Published by dnrevel

Change & transition, Leadership team & organization development. Executive Leadership team coach. My LinkedIn profile:

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