Change Agent

The PowerPoint is a lie.

People know what to put on the PowerPoint.   That’s where you put all the right words, the high ideals and valiant morals.   The PowerPoint is where you say what you know that you should say.

“We are committed to constant improvement and bold change, embracing new and diverse ideas that challenge old thinking so as to take this organization into a future where we serve our customers in new, innovative and more effective ways.”

What the PowerPoint really means, usually, is that we are committed to slow changes in the status quo that don’t really threaten to upset the organization in any significant way.

People who are really committed to brave and remarkable change rarely are the people who give long and boring PowerPoint presentations.

“It’s hard for me not to be seen as a change agent,” TBB tells me.

Yeah.  Someone who has changed as much as she has in her life, changing the gender assigned at birth to one that fits her heart more than her reproductive biology, well, most people see that as a big change.

TBB is looking at a new job in the organization where the spec says that they want someone who can change the way that they do business, bringing bold and effective innovation.    She knows that she could do that job.

But the way that the job requirement is written, the resume test is the key to filling the position.  And that test demands someone who is powerfully, absolutely grounded, for decades, in the status quo.

The last innovator they brought in ended up just keeping the seat warm, counting down the days to retirement.     They had no real incentive to shake things up, and their long experience in another organization didn’t bring new and creative thinking, it just brought another set of expectations, assumptions and risk avoidance behaviours.

It is hard, as TBB reminds us, for transpeople not to be seen as change agents.   And while the celebration of change is written all over the PowerPoint templates, well, the reverence for the status quo is written deep in the souls of the staff.   That reverence is how they got their job, with a commitment to serve their boss, and how they keep their job, supporting whatever the little voices tell them to do.

Risk is, well, risky, and most employers value people who don’t risk going against the expectations of the organization.   Rules, standards, procedures, conventions, all of them are to be followed to the letter, or life gets difficult.

Sure, the PowerPoint says that the organization wants creative, entrepreneurial people who take ownership and create innovative solutions, but we all know that’s a lie.   It’s just what they are supposed to say.

It is hard for visible transpeople not to be seen as change agents.  And while we all know how to give lip service to the need for change, when change actually happens, it is scary and unsettling.  I suspect that makes visible transpeople scary and unsettling too.

Still, there are places where change is really valued.

It is those places, I suspect, where a visible change agent, one who owns bold change in their own life, is going to be valued.

And those are the places where people don’t easily sit through big PowerPoint presentations filled with lies.

Those are the places where change means active process, not just lip service.