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What is Change Agency? 

Change Agency is the process by which change is driven by all stakeholders, rather than a ‘top-down’ corporate imperative. Also referred to as Self-Directed Change, it comprises two elements:

  1. Permission to Pilot: The licence and skills to design, build and fly small, low-cost, low-risk pilots; and
  2. Habit Formation: Conceptualising and harnessing culture as the collective habits of a group.

The approach also translates an innovation value proposition in terms of Alex Osterwalder’s social and emotional ‘jobs-to-be-done’ and anticipates where resistance to change may come from, informed by social neuroscience.

When to use it?

Other parts of our Innovation Playbook support robust co-design, like Design Thinking, System Thinking and Appreciative Inquiry, so Change Agency focuses on what individuals need to design a real-world pilot that will test the business model (and other operational parameters) at limited scale and with a contained level of risk.

Even at a pilot level, it is likely that a radically new approach will encounter some behavioural resistance, so the Habit Formation element of this module anticipates this and paves the way for the formation of new collective habits, which we call culture.

Success Story


Crazy Might Work were engaged by executives from an international aid and development agency to enhance the innovation capabilities of their leaders and increase innovation for impact around the world. This entailed design and delivery of a 4-month program of breakthrough capability-building.


Cross-disciplinary teams were given the opportunity to identify what they believed to be the strongest lever for change in their organisation and the broader system in which they operate. From there, rapid research, design and prototyping occurred, followed by pilot design, supported by a deep dive into the neuroscience of influence. Using character-driven stories anchored in real-life to position the innovation opportunity and pilot design to right-size the risk: reward equation for their beneficiaries and the organisation itself. This culminated in a pitch day to executives, which included external guest judges and leaders from across the organisation.


Key initiatives were selected for investment into pilot and scaling. Four pilots were pitched with one instantly approved and the others referred to the newly-launched Innovation Lab for further testing and validation or consolidation. Most importantly, a core leadership group were equipped with the core skills of innovation and a rich repertoire of tools that can be used selectively for impact in the future.

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