Failure is not an option: Making Change Happen

By Mary Lou Tierney posted 04-23-2010 14:11


Napoleon Hill in his classic work, Think and Grow Rich, tells us we should burn all our ships.

“Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat... to be sure of maintaining that state of mind knows as a burning desire to win, essential to success.” Napoleon Hill

Change management requires strong commitment.  In early 2009, The M ITRE Corporation introduced a Web 2.0 innovation management platform as the host-environment for our annual internal Research Programproposal competition.  Like early explorers in uncharted waters, MITRE committed to a radical change in process and a new technology platform with the implementation of one of our first externally hosted services. Leadership and the development team were committed to see this experiment through to the end. At times, it seemed as if we had burned all of our ships but, in fact, MITRE successfully navigated its way to this new territory of innovation communities.

The vision at the outset was that the new platform represented innovation inside our innovation program. Therefore, the mindset of the team was to be agile and responsive as we shepherded our employees in adopting new work practices.  This strategy, along with the CTO’s position that the new platform be the only way staff could compete, resulted in a successful culture shift to a new way of working. 

Real-world examples leveraging theory and frameworks

My first series of blogs will be grounded in experiences and examples of introducing an innovation management platform in the enterprise. At the outset of the project, I relied on three main concepts for thinking about and validating design and Community Management decisions:

  • Optimal Experience: In Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s seminal work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, he describes common characteristics of optimal experience as: “a sense that one’s skills are adequate to cope with the challenges at hand, in a goal-directed, rule-bound action system that provides clear cues as to how well one is performing”. This mindset helped shaped every aspect of user touch-points with the innovation management environment – from idea submission, to commenting, to reviews, to technical support.
  • System Dynamics: Leverage Points: Places to intervene in a System by Donnella Meadows, presented a useful framework for identifying the highest leverage point in the system where we could have the greatest impact. “These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.”
  • Collective Intelligence: the definition of Collective Intelligence (CI) that helped influence platform designs is from a business intelligence perspective that presents CI as an umbrella concept and emergent behavior brought on by Web 2.0 social and technological advances.

In aggregate, these three concepts formed the baseline mindset used to design-customize communities and manage day-to-day operations/engagement.  Weekly blogs will discuss aspects of these three main concepts in the context of community design, implementation and management.

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#innoviation #web2.0 #communities #failure #changemanagement