10 Principles for Corporate Rebels

The pres­sure for change is grow­ing in the enter­pris­es. Orga­ni­za­tion­al ambidex­ter­i­ty is in high demand: exploit­ing the estab­lished while explor­ing the unknown. But how does the new come into the com­pa­ny? And how is it then received there? The usu­al tay­loris­tic hier­ar­chi­cal struc­ture and way of work­ing is focused on the effi­cient exploita­tion of exist­ing busi­ness mod­els and prod­ucts. The tru­ly new, which is not only an incre­men­tal improve­ment of what already exists, and which there­fore poten­tial­ly car­ries the seeds for the suc­cess of tomor­row or the day after tomor­row, unfor­tu­nate­ly does not thrive in such a con­text very well: Nei­ther the new busi­ness mod­el or prod­uct, which appears insignif­i­cant in com­par­i­son to the cash-cows, nor inno­v­a­tive ways of orga­ni­za­tion, lead­er­ship and coop­er­a­tion, which always appear dis­turb­ing at first.

While it’s true that every com­pa­ny needs an entre­pre­neur to get it under way, healthy growth requires a smat­ter­ing of intrapre­neurs who dri­ve new projects and explore new and unex­pect­ed direc­tions for busi­ness development.
Richard Bran­son

Any employ­ee who nev­er­the­less aims to meet the eas­i­ly for­mu­lat­ed demands of entre­pre­neur­ial think­ing and action will auto­mat­i­cal­ly annoy the sys­tem. And that’s a good thing, because change needs dis­tur­bance. On the one hand, through cor­po­rate jesters who reg­u­lar­ly hold up the mir­ror to the mighty ones, encour­age them to pause and reflect, and thus indi­rect­ly effect changes, cor­po­rate rebels fight active­ly in the under­ground for the new. In line with the idea of ambidex­ter­i­ty and sus­tain­abil­i­ty, both “roles” ful­fill an impor­tant func­tion, even though both of them hard­ly ever appear any­where explicitly.

Already in 1986 (!) Gif­ford Pin­chot III in his book “Intrapre­neur­ing: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Cor­po­ra­tion to Become an Entre­pre­neur” (Ama­zon Affil­i­ate Link) put for­ward 10 com­mand­ments for intrapre­neurs, to which he lat­er added six more. Based on these com­mand­ments of Gif­ford Pin­chot and enriched with a pinch of work­ing out cloud and effec­tu­a­tion, I believe the fol­low­ing ten prin­ci­ples are a good basis for con­struc­tive rebel­lious­ness. What do you think of it?

  1. Be brave — be rad­i­cal. Come to work every day will­ing to be fired.
  2. Have a great vision and clear prin­ci­ples that guide you.
  3. Focus on the next action you can take here and now, inde­pen­dent­ly of your job descrip­tion, to get clos­er to your vision.
  4. Find some allies, build a net­work and become a movement.
  5. Bypass­es rules and reg­u­la­tions to achieve your pur­pose, but nev­er as an end in itself.
  6. Work under­ground for as long as pos­si­ble — too much vis­i­bil­i­ty too ear­ly awak­ens the orga­ni­za­tion’s immune system.
  7. Be grate­ful for support.
  8. Learn from resis­tance and defeat.
  9. Be per­sis­tent in your efforts and mod­est in the expec­ta­tion of suc­cess. (Götz W. Werner)
  10. Always act for the ben­e­fit of the orga­ni­za­tion and its customers.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mahat­ma Gand­hi (attrib­uted)

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