A checklist for change agents and change teams

What does it take to be an effective change agent?   

A checklist for change agents and change teams

Want to develop the know-how to lead change and inspire your change team? Learn what it takes to be an effective change agent using both the Social Movement Action (SMA) and Knowledge-to-Action (KTA) frameworks, which we designed to complement one another. Use the checklist below to gauge your skill level as a change agent. 

  • 1.    Develop capacity in both frameworks.  
    Change agents should develop knowledge, skills and confidence in both frameworks. The Leading Change Toolkit™ is a great starting point with all the knowledge, resources, tools and templates needed to build capacity as informal and formal leaders. In 2022, we will release "Champion competencies" that will further enrich your work.             

  • 2.   Decide which components of each framework to use.      
    Change agents need to know if they will use both frameworks as a whole, or choose components of each to use in their change initiative. For example, a simple practice change may only need one framework, or select components of both. But a complex practice change may benefit from applying both frameworks, especially if traditional approaches were tried in past but did not result in lasting change. Expanding the strategies used by combining an SMA grassroots approach with the KTA action cycle phases can: (re)engage point-of-care staff and senior leadership teams in mobilized collective action; create powerful change; and develop local leaders for future changes. But do take into account the resources available, including time and energy for change, and plan to use these resources intentionally.         

  • 3.   Be flexible and able to reconsider strategy if needed.     
    Change agents must be nimble and able to rethink their strategy for change. As a change initiative evolves, they need to take the time to assess the initiative for signs of progress.  This might include reconsidering whether to use both frameworks if your team had previously decided to use only one framework. Using elements of both frameworks can help scale change that is progressing, recharge a specific change that has stalled, or reimagine a change that has failed to achieve goals. 

  • 4.  Tolerate uncertainty.  
    Change agents must be able to tolerate uncertainty when using novel or alternative strategies such as combining SMA grassroots action with traditional, (often) ‘top-down’ approaches. Change agents should expect and be prepared to adjust their expectations; for example, timelines may need to be lengthened to accommodate factors such as learning new skills and engaging staff as informal leaders. Despite this, change agents should be reassured that applying combined approaches can also accelerate progress and optimize outcomes, sustainability and leadership growth.   

  • 5.  Commit to championing change as innovators.    
    Change agents using the complementary SMA and KTA frameworks value innovation and new implementation strategies that support knowledge mobilization. They recognize the limitations of traditional "top-down" approaches to reach sustainability, and are committed to trying novel approaches to secure higher effectiveness.  

  • 6.  Value the collaborative energy of informal and formal leaders to accelerate success. 
    Change agents using the complementary SMA and KTA frameworks recognize and value the collaborative leadership of both informal and formal leaders to achieve change. They value point-of-care staff’s first-hand knowledge and direct experience of practice, see the importance of engaging people who have lived experience, and know that these perspectives must be integrated to inform effective and meaningful practice change. Change agents also acknowledge the role of senior leadership teams; these formal leaders can guide change teams and secure the resources and support needed to move change forward. And informal and formal leaders must own the change through robust engagement and collaboration in order for the change process to succeed.  

Download our checklist for change agents and change teams