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Change Management Lessons 2

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

December 7, 2021

For today’s flavour of Secret Sauce, I’ll discuss some difficult lessons that I have learned about change management, especially as it relates to IDEA concepts – Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility. In the early 2000s, prior to founding Breakfast Culture, my first change management projects were built out of necessity and conducted “by the side of my desk” at my workplace and as part of my volunteer work. For people experiencing discrimination and oppression at work, I understand some of what you are going through. I experienced systemic racism, anti-Black racism and homophobia in the workplace for years and became clinically depressed as a result of the racial battle fatigue. This was a dark time in my life and I want to help others who may be experiencing what I had to endure. This is what motivates my work at Breakfast Culture. The difficult lessons that I learned led to insights that have informed Breakfast Culture’s D&I Audit Process.

Following are some of the difficult lessons that I learned. These insights have informed Breakfast Culture’s D&I Audit Process. To recap from Part One:

  1. Change takes time, it doesn’t happen immediately.

  2. Change doesn’t always look like what you plan for or expect.

  3. Change means understanding the difference between accountability and justice versus vengeance and revenge.

And now, Part Two: 4. Change is about collaboration and compromise. I volunteered with the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP), heading up their Marketing Communications and their Funding Development Committees. During my work with Black CAP and leading their change management project, we diversified the Funding Development Committee from a group of cisgender, Black, gay men (all “clones” because we all had shaved heads and goatees) to a more inclusive group including both cisgender and transgender women, straight cisgender men, and even cisgender gay men with hair, LOL! Most importantly, this initiative gave us a valuable insight: we learned that Black CAP’s biggest corporate funder viewed the organization as queer first and foremost, and that they were supporting us solely from their queer projects fund. This provided an opportunity for Black CAP to approach their women’s and Black project funding programs as well and to identify new revenue streams based on targeting corporate funders that support women’s projects and/or Black projects, building on our diversity. 5. True transformative change is ongoing -- it’s about the journey, not the destination. Many of my conversations with potential clients go something like this (I am paraphrasing here): “Hey Jefferson, can you give me an ‘I’m not racist’ stamp.” People want the quick fix. They want to get there now, BOTH the oppressors and the oppressed, but here’s the tea: there is no quick fix, you are ALWAYS going to be learning. It’s about the journey, not the destination. 6. Change isn’t always about WHAT you do but HOW you do it. This is probably the biggest lesson that I learned. I recall always thinking, WHAT can we do as an organization and WHAT can I do as an individual? But, most of the time, being an effective change agent or ally is not about WHAT you do but about HOW you do it. How do you hire, promote and retain your people? How do you ensure that people feel a sense of belonging? As a cisgender man, for example, I am doing the work to become much more aware of my male privilege. I realize that my opinions and experiences aren’t the same as a woman’s and in some spaces, just my presence in the room can take the focus away from women so I do my best to assess each group I’m in and either yield the floor or augment her voice. Sometimes, HOW I choose to speak is more important than WHAT I say. These are just six lessons that I have learned in successful change management projects. Together with our partners at Prompta.AI, Breakfast Culture has used these insights to create our proven five-phase process for our Diversity & Inclusion Audits to help companies on their organizational IDEA journeys. Happy to jump on a call to discuss how Breakfast Culture can help with your organizational diversity and inclusion journey. Schedule a 30-minute meeting today: Create a great day!

P.S. Change on the Run by Change Management Expert and Breakfast Culture Partner Phil Buckley is a must have in any change manager’s toolkit.

***Spoiler Alert: Clients who sign on for a Breakfast Culture Diversity & Inclusion Audit receive a copy of Phil's book (and other resources) as part of the service. My endorsement of this valuable resource follows:

“The one constant in the universe is change, it is inevitable. Managing change can be a daunting task for anyone. Phil Buckley has distilled the thinking, concepts and most importantly the daily practice of managing change in organizations into a concise, powerful and fun read. The book includes immediate actions readers can take to affect change in their own organizations. A must have in any change manager’s toolkit.”

– Jefferson Darrell, Founder & CEO, Breakfast Culture

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