I’ve written about Andy Hines, Futurist Professor from the University of Houston, before on this blog, but I just watched his TedXHouston video on what it is like to be a professional Futurist. The talk really caught my attention around the 6:55 portion where Andy starts delving into understanding how new ideas and change tend to be viewed by the members of your organization. He breaks them into four groups and defines how the members of each group tend to react to organizational change. For any of you who have implemented change in your organization, this will make perfect sense to you.

  1. Frogs – Understand foresight and they are good at getting things done in the organization. However, they are rare. The value of Frogs is that they can help you sell your ideas, and they can be champions for change.
  2. Lemmings – These are the people that pop out of the woodwork when a new idea comes around, and they say “Cool!” They can be an excellent support group, but they are the early adopters and not the mainstream of the organization. If you start to believe that they are the norm of the organization, then you all go off the cliff together.
  3. The Vultures – They don’t like foresight, they don’t like change, and they probably don’t like you. Best thing you can do is avoid The Vultures because you cannot change them.
  4. The Rats – This group is the vast majority of any organization. The Rats are really good at diagnosing what’s going on during the process of change. If the idea is a good one, they come running; if it is a bad idea, they are the first one off the sinking ship.

After breaking down the four groups, Hines turns the focus back on the person attempting to introduce and move the idea forward. First and foremost, “Good ideas don’t necessarily sell themselves.” You need to constantly sell people on your ideas.

Second, “You can’t be too worried about credit.” Once the organization adopts the idea, you may be pushed to the background (or completely out of the picture.) That’s okay. You’ve done your part in getting the organizational leaders to adopt your ideas. (Just remember to remind your boss that you were the generator of this idea.)

One other point that Andy Hines makes toward the end of the presentation, probably defines most of you reading this article. Hines calls them “The Futurizers.” These are the people that read articles, go to presentations, listen to their peers, and then come back to the organization and asks “Why aren’t we doing this? Why aren’t we thinking that way? Where are we going?”

Check out Andy Hines’ presentation below, and also check out his blog.