In the Name of Change
I love change. As a kid, rearranging my room provided a bolt of excitement. Usually, the new form of the room – keep in mind this was not a large space – satisfied me. At least for a while. Change is fluid, but sometimes it can be difficult to know how to change—where to go next. And maybe you’ve had the same nightmares as I did about how to arrange the dresser around the bed. The dresser never quite fit anywhere, did it?
How many times have you heard people casually exclaim that they hate change? And sometimes not so casually. “I hate change!” Scarred, perhaps, by the bed-and-dresser conundrum. However, hating change—resisting change—stunts one’s development and growth as a person. Resisting change serves people unfavorably.
Kurt Lewin’s seminal thoughts and foundation for the change management field suggest that the first step for change includes recognition and acknowledgement – a “felt-need” for change.
Key Question: How well does your organization’s identity coordinate with its name, work, and core values? How well does your professional identity coordinate with your passion and personal values? Is your identity strong and recognizable, and is it current?
Key Takeaway: Beware of the status quo. Identifying your name involves an in-depth look at what you’re about at the core. Names tend not to be permanent – names evolve. Time and willingness to change can be crucial for getting the name right for the time.
Origin Story: Recognizing a Need for Change
The Innovators of Change name and logo elicit frequent questions. As you might expect, the origin story fits the concept of change and provides a nice example of a Lewin-like thought model.
In August 2006, I had enough freelance work to determine that I should establish myself as an official business entity. While I don’t remember all the details of how I came upon a name, I’d like to think the name emerged in a revelatory moment.
Me, in a meta state of mind: I need a business name. I’m thinking. I’m thinking of the future. I’m thinking ahead. I’m having a dramatic realization. Thinking Ahead.
At the time, my business was focused on consulting and specifically on succession management, creating the process for seeking out the individuals who can move an organization forward, with the future in mind, and helping to professionally develop and, ultimately, transition those individuals into next organizational roles (i.e., successors), as well as thought leadership on this topic. I also was gearing up to assist organizations with planning for the future. Thinking Ahead made a lot of sense. There was the fun play on words, too: ahead and a head. Thinking happens in the head, and I was an industrial-organizational psychologist*, meaning I focused on how what is in someone’s head translates into behavior in a work setting. So, it all seemed quite apt.*
From Thinking Ahead to Agents of Change
Thinking Ahead remained my business name for nearly 10 years, and I still hold affection for the name. However, as expected with an organization’s or person’s life cycle, my business evolved and developed to include broader organization development and industrial-organizational psychology. Names tends not to be permanent – names evolve. When it came time for me to pursue this work full-time, I decided to change the name. I began reading several naming books, including Hello, My Name Is Awesome and Don’t Call It That!.
These books, along with other items I read, helped spark ideas and naming exercises – I love exercises! I chose Agents of Change, a nod to the change agent concept, for the new name—my business’s new identity. For playfulness, I decided to attach to the secret agent concept as well, which fit nicely with the idea of consulting as a source of hard-to-obtain information for organizations.
Fun fact: My wife was the model for the Agents of Change logo. Although I think this is a fun fact, my wife did not think of her logo modeling work as fun. Perturbed would be a more precise descriptor. She softened a bit when I stressed that only her shadow would be used for the logo. I would argue that she enjoyed carrying the satchel too!
Unfortunately, trademarking the Agents of Change logo proved difficult, and a related website name failed to pan out. Back to the drawing board.
Innovators of Change
After much thought and testing of name iterations, as well as collaborating with trusted friends and colleagues, Relationscripts emerged as the new name. I hired a graphic designer to design the logo, and away we went, until the graphic designer offered some critical feedback in response to the design brief. She and her husband – a business professor – didn’t like the name Relationscripts because they felt it underdescribed the business. Looking back now, I realize, too, that Relationscripts obviously didn’t fully encompass my company’s values and identity. Ironically, the name Relationscripts did get at the issue of resistance to change I mentioned earlier. An unrealized secret of change management is that, often people don’t resist change, so as much as they resist the revised social relationship encounters resulting from a change. Think about how unsettling that experience can be for someone who thrives on structured relationships. There is a tangent to follow here, but let’s get back to the Innovators of Change story, where I tend to be invigorated by change. The graphic designer (and her husband) said that the previous name, Agents of Change, better “conveyed the unique and creative services that you offer.” Thus, knowing Agents of Change wasn’t available, they suggested Innovators of Change, a name they brainstormed and tested for availability. They stated that Innovators of Change “has a dynamic feel to it.” I agreed.
We quickly found our way to the logo. However, two of the really cool elements of the logo resulted from serendipity.
The first item I noticed was the left-side callout to I-O, the heart of the business – industrial and organizational psychology (often referred to as I-O psychology.) If I recall correctly, we capitalized on this happy accident by making sure to highlight the I and the O of the full words using color. The graphic designer deserves high praise for translating the design brief perfectly and building on it. She designed to the vibe of the company – bold and modern, while remaining professional. She felt it was important to have the logo imply that we provide “targeted change to individuals and organizations.” Thus, she built a world around the logo. Did you know that the “I” stands for individuals as well as industry and innovators? The “O” stands for organizations and bringing people together at a central point. The “C” represents change.
The second item I noticed was the triangle on the left bottom of the logo. I complimented my graphic designer for her thoughtful work of inserting a Delta into the logo to represent change. As it turns out, in the original draft, the Delta wasn’t a Delta but a graphic design choice made to represent an arrow aiming towards a target. So, we brainstormed how to be more intentional, and the result was the fuller delineation of the Delta as well as the transformation of the letter “A” to Delta in the spelled-out name.
Change Isn’t Easy and Change Is Never Done – Everyone Must Always Be Thinking Ahead
I’m passionate about the Innovators of Change name and its associated logo because the name and logo accurately reflect the core values and identity of my work. Consistent with the general interpretation of Lewin’s Three Stages of Change model, and more importantly, in line with the integrated developmental model he envisioned… Landing on the name Innovators of Change required a willingness to freeze, unfreeze, change, refreeze, unfreeze a second time (and fairly soon after the previous refreeze!), and change again, before refreezing again.
You Can’t Always Freeze What You Want
There has to be a spark, which will vary depending on the change and the people, to create an unsteadiness and a motivation for change, and a context for security to melt the fear (unfreeze.) Only then can the analysis and decision making, and the trial and error take place that leads to change, and to normalizing the new choice (refreeze.) Don’t get too comfortable, though, because there is only so much you can address at once, and with change comes new challenges! As a friend of mine who worked with me on renaming the company pointed out, “This isn’t as easy as you think.” It’s that feeling of wondering what to do with the bed and the dresser all over again. Regardless of how you feel about Lewin’s model – and critiques have come from many angles — change, is constant and necessary. Without it, we remain frozen in time, paradoxically, as change stems from time. Change is fluid with time.
* This wasn’t my first foray into naming something as a head pun; one such example … our recreational volleyball team name, Psych Out. Although the team started with the intent of being a team made up of psychology graduate students, the name became less appropriate when we needed to fill-in our roster gaps with sports radio hosts. I believe our misleading team name led to much confusion and, perhaps, explained much of our lack of success in the sand.innovatorsofchange.comInnovators of Change PodcastsInnovators of Change Videos