Intrapreneur’s Playbook: Why dissent is good for your organisation and 10 ways to foment disruption

20151027_215630000_iOSI work in an organisation and industry where a key mantra of work and of the value we offer to customers is (improved) collaboration. Central to this is effective teamwork and working like a network. I believe in this wholeheartedly with every fibre in my body since I have been working in this space for the last 10 years. However, there are times when it is counter-productive and things need to be stirred up a little.

There are times when “group think” can set in. Shared thinking can become stultifying. There is a risk of echo chambers forming. Out of the ordinary thinking so necessary for innovation can be lost. I’m not the only one to think so:

Inspired by this article on how to disrupt yourself, I borrowed liberally but modified it somewhat to focus more on an organisational level. I also added the last four points. It is essentially a set of principles intended to keep everyone on their toes, responsive to change and disruptive. This is for people who understand that the way organisations work has changed but not all minds in them have yet and the path to changing them sometimes need revolutionary tactics. This could also easily be a chapter out of an Intrapreneur’s Playbook – hence the title. So to the list:

1. An autonomous unit of contrarians who understand that new models and methods need to be created constantly.

The unit should have all the functional skills it needs to succeed, the right mindset and the wherewithal to operate independently of current business responsibilities (including finacial independence) but are still deeply entrenched in core business operations.

2. Leaders who come from the relevant “schools of experience.”

These leaders have addressed a variety of challenges, especially in the kinds of problems new business models and challenges will face.

3. A code of conduct and principles (like this set :).

Adherents should be inspired and can subscribe to them easily because they are clear and unequivocal and can be communicated and even tought consistently throughout the organisation.

4. Independent collaboration and communication channels.

These should not be required to coordinate with or defer to existing channels. A channel that allows for super efficient information flows, hyper connectedness and virality of movement. So by channel I don’t mean email – I’m talking Yammer, Slack, etc. :)

5. Performance standards that are open to the unit.

It should be able to reflect priorities different from those of the core business. You can expect the new unit to do as well as the core in terms of performance, but the formula for generating that performance must be different.

6. Unwavering commitment by the CEO.

He or she must be willing to spend an inordinate amount of time understanding and guiding the development of the new movement and must protect it from the natural desire on the part of managers in the core business to shut it down.

7. Understanding the status quo.

What the group thinks is not what is going to move you forward but its important to understand from whence you are coming so that you can better plot a chart for the destination. What will, how it will and why then becomes a robust rallying cry for the movement for change.

8. Hack the change and in turn the culture.

The insurgent’s/disrupter’s way is through Guerilla tactics – small, incisive attacks at the status quo that end up disrupting it. Piecemeal successes that collectively make up success at scale. A little more about hacking here.

9. Celebrate the successes through stories.

They must be authentic, based on experience and driven by emotion (narratives close to people’s collective purpose). They should also use facts and data based on reality that point to real successes and value. Enliven your stories with rich media, video, audio, diagrams, etc.

10. Start at the beginning.

The enemy never sleeps and you have to reinvent yourself constantly. Failure is an option and experimentation is the insurgent’s/disrupter’s Petri dish and the new planning.

#workingoutloud

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