Photo Russ Collins

Influence change from the inside

You can influence change from inside an organization or from outside. The perspectives and approaches differ. My focus today is on how you can influence change as an insider. It is based on what I’ve seen and what many clients have shared with me over past years.

I’ll write about how to do it as an outsider later.

The books you see below use different vocabulary: heretic, rebel, original, rare breed, gig mindsetter and insubordination. They offer different lenses on how diversity of mindset and challenging the status quo brings benefits for individuals and for organizations. They also address the risk angle.

You can read short descriptions of each book here:

Now, back to our topic: Three ways to influence change from the Inside! You’ll see the three points below in some of their cases and you’ll discover other tactics as well.

Start from the edges— explore and discover surprises!

Another way to influence the work culture in your organization is to communicate in the internal social network and get people to connect around your ideas. Don’t look to management. You’ll find plenty of ad hoc leaders in the crowd working on their own initiatives.

It is likely there are more than you thought. Look around for them, join forces with them and build momentum. The internal social network is a great source of energy.

Use senior management — hierarchy can be useful!

If you’re able to influence even one person in a powerful position in your organization, you may be in luck. That person can become your stepping-stone to other senior people.

Of course, there is always the risk that, if at some point that person is no longer there, their successor may have a different, even potentially negative, approach to your work.

That’s why you should develop your contacts with more than one senior person. If one changes, you can hopefully count on the others to support you.

Build virtual bridges — then stride across with confidence!

Virtual lasts longer than physical — and it has the advantage of being invisible to many.

Virtual structures such as online communities and networks are more likely to outlive changes in top management because they are “invisible” and attract less attention than do face-to-face events.

If you can organize lunches and after-work events with external guests, that’s great. Just be sure to keep a trace online, preferably with some photos!



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Jane McConnell

Jane McConnell

Author: The Gig Mindset Advantage. 20yrs advising large organizations, 12 yrs of global research on work culture & leadership. Podcast