My 9 top tips for implementing change – With Like Minds (1/10)

My Like Minds keynote on intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship: On the 19th of October 2011, in Exeter in Devon, I delivered a keynote at Like minds. It is entitled “confessions of an intrapreneur”.

There are 9 of these anecdotes and tips, which are all used to describe my preferred approach to change management. I have decided to publish the script of my presentation in this blog, starting from lesson number 9 and going backwards to lesson number 1 and then the introduction.

Intrapreneurship: in times of trouble, speed up the process!

Lesson no. 9: in times of trouble, speed up the process! 

  • Most people stop implementing change when chaos arises,
  • There is a very common mistake because chaos is the mother of creation,
  • The use of chaos in the derived sense of “complete disorder or confusion” first appears in Elizabethan Early Modern English but the original sense, taken from the Greek mythology and later religious writings, describes the original state of the world before it took shape,
  • Chaos is therefore not synonymous with havoc, but rather describes the state of things before a change is being implemented, before things start to make sense,
  • Visionaries, always try to implement change in periods of chaos, because these are the times when everything is possible and creativity is often given free rein. Almost all my change management endeavours have been carried out at the worst possible moment, moments of which I had trouble finding my place within the hierarchy, and this is exactly when I decided to launch new initiatives,
  • Launching new initiatives are times when organisations are being in re reinvented is, in fact, the right way forward, because this is the period at which top executives are searching for solutions to solve their problems, and are therefore more open to innovators, an intrapreneur is, who are going to bring solutions to their problems.

Anecdote: one of the most stressful periods of my working life took place when I came back from England to Unisys France to join the consulting practice in the middle of the 1990s. That period was a period of turmoil, a period of crisis to0, and the consulting outfit I had just joined didn’t last for long.

But right at that moment, the World Wide Web had just started to become more popular, and I seized this opportunity to apply my marketing skills to the web and to become one of the pioneers of web marketing.

At a moment when I had trouble to find who I was reporting to, I multiplied visits to various clients, departments and sites in order to promote these Internet skills and I ended up bumping into Steve. I had built a little website as a proof of concept, which still exists and is still my personal website) and when Steve spotted he immediately asked me to come back to London to implement something similar for him it ended up being, for his new Internet banking practice.

The next thing I knew, the French part of Unisys didn’t want to let me go any more, and I had ceased to be a consultant without a hierarchy, I had found myself a new job, a new purpose and that eventually led me to even leave Unisys a couple of years later and join Gemini and then Orange.

Had I decided not to do anything because of the chaos which was surrounding me, I would have been laid off like so many others at Unisys, which unfortunately went from a 120,000 employee company in the 1980s to a 30,000 company in 1997!

Yann Gourvennec
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