Positive Change Without Authority: A Night For Intrapreneurs

organizational change

We’re always looking for interesting ways to connect with people and organizations who are excited about organizational culture and change as much as we are! And last week we got just that opportunity in San Francisco, at the event, “Culture Design: Positive Change Without Authority.” This workshop was led by Christopher White to promote his new book, Changing Your Company From the Inside Out: A Guide For Social Intrapreneurs, and was organized by Culture Lab X, “a global community of founders, designers and practitioners who curate conversations, connect communities and experiment with the future of work.”

From the moment we entered, the buzz in the room was immediately palpable; there was so much passion and desire for attendees to learn how to change their organizations from within using some of the lessons from social movements, or larger scale group actions that mobilize for change.

After sharing his own story of his failed attempt to change the water bottle use at a company as a summer intern, and contrasting that with another case study of a successful intraprenurial organizational change, Christopher led participants through an exercise where in pairs we workshopped a specific intrapreneurial change we wanted to make in our own organizations.

These intrapreneurial changes were framed within the broader context of social movements; a sense of urgency and ability to mobilize people is crucial for making change, whether in society or in an organization.

Some big picture concepts that we gleaned throughout the evening regarding how to think about making an intrapreneurial change included:

  • When: How does the timing play a role in the specific change? Is there an opening? Can you create a sense of urgency?
  • Who: How are you engaging key allies and a variety of influencers within the system to get more support for and momentum around the change?
  • Why: How are you telling the story of why the change is important? What’s in it for the entire organization as well as individualized groups that will make them want to mobilize around the change?
  • How: Given your understanding of your organization’s culture and its potential aversion to change, how are you best tying this change to existing programs and systems? Or how are you framing it as an experimental pilot or focusing on the change being carried out by a self-organized group within the organization?

In our pair at the workshop, we found that thinking through the answers to these questions allowed for a more strategic, dynamic approach in making a plan of action for implementing the change.

At gothamCulture, we take a similar approach to supporting organizational change with our clients; our Assess phase allows us to understand our client’s organization and our Dialogue phase includes conversations around some of these broader issues before we move on to Design and Implementation together with our clients.

Special thanks to Culture Lab X for organizing this great community event and for building energy around the importance of organizational culture and how to make change in organizations. We’re excited to read Christopher’s book and learn more.

What other events should we be attending? What are other books about organizational change should be next on our list?