If it is true that there is nothing permanent except change, then we need a formula to create change better. Enter Patti Johnson, CEO of PeopleResults, a change and human capital consulting firm. She has worked with clients, such as Microsoft, 7-Eleven and Catholic Charities. We have worked with Patti and her team and can attest to their greatness. Her company has a similar philosophy to ours – make theories practical and focus on change rather than deliverables about change.

In her stellar new work, she has uncovered the secrets of how people step up and initiate change at work and in their lives. She shares these in her latest book, Make Waves. This has special relevance to the social sector because not only is the sector shifting (check out our latest TrendSpot on this topic, Social GameChangers), but most of our missions also surround changing the lives and communities we serve. Change is at our very core.

The book shares a great overriding framework:

  • THINK: Find Your Wave
  • KNOW: Challenge Conventional Wisdom
  • DO: Create Lasting Change


In THINK, the author reveals a methodology for uncovering our most successful wave – impact, purpose, knowledge and credibility. This is not unlike the lean start-up methodology we have shared in the past. We especially liked two of her THINK tips. First, “think progress and not perfection,” and secondly, “tackle fears and assumptions.”  She sees fear as a positive force and encourages readers to “dive in” and take action.

In KNOW, the author encourages us to evaluate trends and challenge conventional wisdom. She discusses mega-trends for the 21st century, including meaningful work (great for the social space!), bite-sized content, fading hierarchies and demographic changes. She also debunks some conventional thinking about change, such as “change happens at the top” and “the importance of resistance to change.”

In DO, the author challenges us to start making waves, even without a perfect plan. She also shares common themes derived from analysis of Wave Makers’ success as well as how to overcome failures. Rather than letting failure derail our process, she suggests getting outside input to determine whether we are merely experiencing a setback or if our strategy is off. Most importantly, she reminds us that by constantly assessing where we are, we can remain focused, yet flexible as conditions change.


The tides are changing in the social space and we can learn new skills, such as impact measurement. However, to make these shifts, we also have to change our culture, and that requires a deep understanding of change management. Make Waves provides an excellent, easy-to-read framework for social sector organizations to understand change and how to make it happen in their organizations.


If you have examples of how you have been a Wave Maker or would like to honor a Wave Maker in your life, we’d love to hear your stories.

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