Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Da Vinci was a Change Agent, Are You?

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Valeria, I have to hand it to you (metaphorical speaking, of course). You certainly know how to ask the questions! :-)

I hate to be the one pointing this out... da Vinci made all his observations sans assistance! Likewise Einstein, Newton, Darwin, Feynman, and ... I'm not sure there is anyone else (Brahe, perhaps?). Copernicus had assistance; one of whom undermined his entire thesis. Kepler wasn't exactly original, although one can argue he was particularly exacting. (Crick had Watson, etc)

But your point is clear! :-)

Although I would point out that Steve Jobs has been a greater of change than Michael Dell. Mr Dell works within a framework that is, to be honest, somewhat limiting. Steve Jobs saw past the limitations, and created a brand that is synonymous with "cool lifestyle". Michael Dell follows in those footsteps. (No, I'm not a Jobs acolyte; I simply like the way he redefined the barriers he had to deal with. Full disclosure bit: I live in a household with more Macs than Windows machines, too. Besides which, after my last experience with Dell, I won't buy anything from that company.)

As far as Obama is concerned, he has an opportunity to change the dialog of government. We've had nigh on 30 years of conservative rhetoric that is astoundingly close to gilded age soothsaying. Perhaps people are ready for a change? The election results certainly indicate America wants change. But the President is only one player - others have an equal, and often more of a say in what happens.

Maybe that's not the change we seek? Maybe we're simply looking at a sea-change in public attitudes? Perhaps, perhaps, people are no longer asking what their country can do for them. Maybe we have reached the point that John Fitzgerald Kennedy demanded we reach: what can we do, for each other?

Marketing is reaching a crossroads; I'm just not sure it's the one the symptoms are pointing to. If it is, I'll be surprised.

Carolyn Ann

PS Science can meet art, but I'm not sure art can ever be on talking terms with science. Art can exploit science, and somehow I think science objects. Unless you're Richard Feynman!

PPS Name dropping? How crass. My apologies. :-)

Hi Valeria,

To your initial question, no I am not a change agent:

- I doubt the power of the human will (not to be confused with the human spirit);
- I have no desire to speed things up - change being the human measure of time
- I wouldn't know which way to change (our present - at least in business - is hardly an endorsement of many of the change agents of the past)
- I'm a little exhausted by change agents - with their tendency to impatience and their distrust of the present (some thing take time to bear fruit )

I suspect I don't long for a different a tomorrow - It just happens that way and I seem happy for the present that's delivered.

Of course, I may be delusional and I'll suffer for it (But perhaps I won't notice).


This is a great post. There's such a lack of change leadership and courage in many corporations today. I saw this at Dell as we tried to get people comfortable with change.

This is an oldie but a goodie...
Prosci's Change Management learning center features a report titled 2005 Best Practices in Change Management. As summarized by Be Excellent, here are 5 important findings:

1. The #1 contributor to (business improvement) project success is active, strong and visible sponsorship throughout the project.

2. The top obstacles to successful change are employee resistance at all levels: front-line, middle managers, and senior managers and inadequate senior management sponsorship.

3. Employees want to hear messages about change from two people: the CEO and their immediate supervisor - the message they want to hear from each individual is very different.

4. When asked what they would do differently next time, most teams would dedicate resources to change management.

5. The top reason for employee resistance is a lack of awareness about the change.

I've talked to colleagues looking to get their buisness to embrace a new program, become a metrics organization, become a customer centric organization, or launch a sustaining word of mouth strategy. Focus on the program rather than the people, incentives and communication leads to failure. And that's not what we need out of companies this year!

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