Change Champions

Last week marked celebrations of the creation of two countries. Canada Day was July 1 and Americans celebrated Independence Day on July 4. Both countries broke away from British rule. Canada was formed by evolution and America by revolution. It’s a good time to look at a few thoughts on the role of change champions in organizational change or transformation efforts.

“Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one.”

– 19th Century Scottish writer, essayist, historian, and teacher

“A man with a new idea is a crank, until the idea succeeds”

– “Mark Twain” pen name of 19th Century American author and humorist, Samuel Langhorne Clemens

“Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.”

– Peter Drucker, American management research, professor, and author

” … once they have identified an idea that seems to hold promise, they tailor it to fit their organizations’ specific needs. Next, they actively sell the idea — to senior executives, to the rank and file, to middle managers. And finally, they get the ball rolling by participating in small-scale experiments. But when those take off, they get out of the way and let others execute.”

– H. James Wilson, Thomas H. Davenport, and Laurence Prusak, “Who’s Bringing You Hot Ideas (and How Are You Responding)?” Harvard Business Review

“Only mediocrities rise to the top of a system that won’t tolerate wave making.”

– Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle

“Tempered radicals inspire change. Yet their leadership resides equally in their capacity to inspire people. They inspire by having courage to tell the truth even when it’s difficult to do so, and by having the conviction to stay engaged in tough conversations. They inspire by demonstrating the commitment to stay focused on their larger ideals even when they suffer consequences or get little recognition for doing so.”

– Debra E. Meyerson, Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work

“There is a correlation between the creative and the screwball. So we must suffer the screwball gladly.”

– Kingman Brewster, American educator, President of Yale University, and US diplomat


For over 30 years, Jim Clemmer’s practical leadership approaches have been inspiring action and achieving results. He has delivered thousands of keynote presentations, workshops, and management team retreats to hundreds of organizations around the globe moving his audiences from inspiration to application. He’s listed in the World’s Top 30 Most Influential Leadership Gurus based on research with 22,000 global business people, consultants, academics and MBAs. His website is

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