Movement to unite corporate rebels worldwide to ensure that true change happens virally. We are building a global network of change catalysts to create new global practices for value creation, agility and velocity. We are architects and scouts into the future, and we want to guide our organizations in navigating a safe path from now to then.
People call you an instigator, a protagonist, a renegade, a pirate, a mercenary, a rebel, or an empowered employee. We know you for what you really are: a change agent who sees speed, change and innovation as the new corporate norm. We know because we are you. We know the challenges – and the excitement – of driving change in an incumbent or start-up company. We know what it means to go for “The Innovator’s Risk”
We call ourselves “Corporate Rebels United”
Corporate Rebels United is a virtual organization uniting corporate rebels worldwide to ensure that true change happens virally. All our rebels have signed our manifesto. There is no central body, just a group of rebels who start to organize themselves into “pods” or small cells aligned with a set of 20 principles. Today we are a small group of 200 folks, cross-industry, from San-Francisco to Sydney and anything in between.
The idea of “Pods” comes from Dave Gray (author of the just released “The Connected Company” and one of our advisors): independent self-organizing cells who act autonomously but in context of shared platform of common, core, connected principles.
Corporate Rebels United is not an official SWIFT, Alcatel-Lucent, or Innotribe initiative. It started with a couple of rebels who decided to just-do-it in their free time.
The initial idea for Corporate Rebels United emerged when innovation teams of Alcatel-Lucent and Swift met and worked closely in the context of Swift’s Innotribe program.
We were excited by the exchange of ideas and energy that emerged when like-minded folks came together. And that got us thinking about some big “what if’s”:
- What if we could create a tribe of the best and most exceptional corporate rebels worldwide – people like us, people like you?
- What if we could start leveraging each other’s ideas, energy and best practices?
- What if we could design a movement to support each other when the going gets tough?
- What if we could cross-fertilize and infect our organizations with the change-virus from within?
We wanted to identify exceptional people worldwide that already have an impressive impact on change and innovation in their corporations, no matter in what field or industry. The movers and the shakers. The do-ers of today. The ones who take initiative. Who create deep change from within. People who energize their organizations by leading from their true selves. The crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently, and who are crazy enough to think they can change the world. (Credit: Steve Jobs)
An additional trigger came during a SWIFT Brown-bag for all staff. A group of young people was presenting the results of their participation to a StreetWize training program, involving streetkids that were super-inventive in their difficult street environments. It was magic. The employees who testified were motivated, vibrant, and passionate! But how comes I had never seen them at the company before? Where had they been hiding? What if we could unleash the energy of these hidden pearls? This was the moment where I decided, “Now I am going to do it”.
It was the start of an exciting journey.
Our plan was to start small – 15 founding rebels cross-industry – because we want to ensure quality and resilience in the initial starters group. We wanted to get the spirit right from the start.
The initial instigators Peter Vander Auwera (part of the Innotribe team at SWIFT) and Laura Merling and Mike Maney (both at Alcatel Lucent at that time) just hacked together a first target list of people they thought would fit the label “corporate rebel”.
On 17 March, Petervan posted a blog titled “Corporate Rebels United: the start of a corporate spring?” We got loads of comments. We got in contact with some very high profile people who offered their mentorship, coaching and mindshare in their communities. Many very cool people contacted us and wanted to know how they could be part of the movement. Clearly, something strong and positive resonated with our audience.
By then, we had a “core” group of +/- 30 Corporate Rebels: cross-industry, with folks from the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. All the way from San Francisco to Sydney, with Europe in-between. Maybe still a bit weak in South-America, Africa, and Asia, but getting there.
We had several calls and Skypes, and we had our first face-to-face meeting in London on 22 June 2012. We had about 10 core rebels attending physically and 15-20 via call: one call for the Americas and one for APAC. It was a great experience, refreshing, and reinvigorating.
We worked hard with that “core” group to articulate why and how we wanted to create this movement. We also looked in detail into the “what”, the deliverables. We wanted to ensure that the message we sent out was “right” before we throw into the open.
A lot of “getting the spirit right” was already included in Petervan’s prezi’s on the “Soul of Innovation”. Without any publicity, this prezi already generated almost 5,000 hits.
For viewing this prezi, turn audio “on”, as I experimented a lot with sound and visual landscapes. Somewhere halfway in that prezi, you will discover the very first Rebels Manifesto, right after the Pirates Treasure Map.
Initial Corporate Rebels Manifesto
Challenging the status quo
Breaking the rules
Saying the unsaid
Spreading the innovation virus
Seeding Tribal energy
With No fear
With a cause to do good
Leading by Being from our True Selves
Going after the un-named quality
Initial ideas for Corporate Rebels United included:
- To build an action-driven community.
- To create an incredible energy bomb of corporate change.
- We aimed for a very high level of integrity and authenticity. We wanted this to be morally, intellectually, and artistically right
- To re-enforce the energy of known rebels in a non-zero sum community.
- To identify and unleash the energy from the hidden rebels and the hidden pearls in our organizations and give them a voice
- To create exchange programs between our corporations
- To have deep positive business impact on the corporations and organizations that host and pay our salaries.
- To create a culture in our corporations where change is the norm.
- To measure the progress and propulsion we make/create:
- The folks we influence
- The corporate change heartbeat
- To evolve our corporations into places of constant change, resilience, responsiveness, reflection and vibrant energy.
- To create a place for play, fun, rock, and rich personal expression
At the start, Corporate Rebels United was a closed community: we were looking for atypical people who made us go WOW!
- People acting from their true self and without fear, and make amazing change happen within their organizations and the ecosystems they are part of.
- People with a moral, architectural, almost artistic integrity.
- People with a BIG innovation heart in the right place.
- People who inspire us as human beings. With open mind, open heart, and open will.
- Like Seth Godin said in his book (We are all Weird):“they have to be a bit weird”.
The June 2012 London face-to-face meeting was documented in petervan’s blog: http://petervan.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/corporate-rebels-united-a-new-global-practice-for-value-creation/
Begin September 2012, we opened the gates. Petervan did a blog post on his personal blog where interested people could sign up for the manifesto http://petervan.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/corporate-rebels-manifesto/
Soon after, Mathias Vestergaard created our first web-site: just one page with the manifesto and a sign-up button. http://www.corporaterebelsunited.com/ We set up a Facebook Group and a Google+ Community.
Today we are a small group of 200 folks, cross-industry, from San-Francisco to Sydney and anything in between. We are aware of Pods being set-up in Sweden, New-York, Boston, Michigan, Sweden, Italy, India. We have been invited to speak at events in US, Sweden, and Sydney.
We want to be an actionable group, not just a chat-club or think-tank. So, we have defined a couple of tangible deliverables:
- Our manifesto
- A common language
- The 20 core principles of our DNA
- A New Global Practice for Value Creation
- A Belonging and Support program
- A Discovery program
- An Exchange program
- A series of Events
We would like to zoom-in on the deliverable “A New Global Practice for Value Creation”:
The core of our ambition is to create/let emerge a new Global Practice for Value Creation.
It’s “practice” like in Lean “practice” and SixSigma “practice”. However these are for increasing efficiency in our organizations. We are on the innovation side. Innovation is less about “optimizing” the core engine; it’s more about new value creation.
Imagine having “black-belts”, “champions” in value creation and deep transformation of our companies based on our mission and principles. In the end, a company should be proud and outspoken of having x number of “black-belt Rebels” on board!
We want it to be global. From a meta-story perspective, wanting it to be something “global” that holds the values is probably one of the strongest thoughts of our movement.
We would like that these practices develop in a self-emerging way through the activities of the cells. Our expectation is that these practices are grounded in following principles:
- Practice of Courage, Fear-is-not-an-Option, No fear to jump
- Behavior/attitude: “Shift Makers”, “Accelerating Purposeful Innovation”, “Inside and Outside the company”, “Accelerators”, “Catalysts”, “Igniters”, carrying “The soul of Innovation”, “Re-Build”, “Re-Work, “Corporate Activists”, “Positive Deviants”
- Emergent from the cells
- Includes stealth approaches etc
- Practices that lead to mastery
- Focus on what works
- Be part of curriculum
- Certification levels vs. Reputation system
- To be added as program to universities
Our one-page web-site is a testimony of where we landed, but we have reproduced the text below for convenience of the MIX Challenge readers:
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Our organizations no longer serve our needs. They cannot keep pace with a high-velocity, hyper-connected world. They no longer can do what we need them to do. Change is required.
WHAT IS THE VISION?
We love our organizations and want them to succeed. We want to reboot our corporate and organizational culture to install a 21st century, digitally native version, to accelerate positive viral change from deep within the fabric of our organizations, and to reclaim our passion for work.
WHAT IS CORPORATE REBELS UNITED?
We are building a global network of change catalysts that act from deep personal awareness and presence, and an irresistible enthusiasm. Our actions will lead to new product and services and new global practices for value creation, agility and velocity. We are architects and scouts into the future, and we want to guide our organizations in navigating a safe path from now to then.
Challenging the status quo
Breaking the rules
Saying the unsaid
Spreading the innovation virus
Seeding tribal energy
With no fear
With a cause to do good
Leading by being from our true selves
Going after the un-named quality
WE ARE HOLDING A SPACE.
We are making and holding a space where everybody can have a voice in service of value creation. The DNA of our movement is a platform of core principles that are the basis for us to connect, to practice, to embrace, and to inspire other to dream and make our dreams come true.
HOW DO WE DEFINE SUCCESS?
When we have a community of 10,000 pods worldwide, with a good distribution across industries and regions. When we feel whole at work. When the DNA is established, when the pods start to divide, enabled by the lightweight space we are holding. Holding a space is a about context; the job is done when the space is holding itself, when people start saying: “I suddenly feel free to be awesome.” When our practice gets the same attention in annual reports as efficiency practices such as Lean and SixSigma.
HELP US ARTICULATE THE PRINCIPLES.
We are now defining the DNA: A platform of common principles that define who we are and what we stand for. We could use your help.
- Principle-1: We love our organizations and want them to succeed in this high-velocity, hyper-connected world.
- Principle-2: We dare to be great.
- Principle-3: We have the mandate to be brave and to challenge the status quo.
- Principle-4: We will reboot our corporate and organizational culture to install a 21st century, digitally native version.
- Principle-5: We accelerate positive viral change from deep within the fabric of our organizations.
- Principle-6: We enable and empower the rest of our organizations to move at rapid pace, but with room for patience and reflection.
- Principle-7: We unleash the enormous potential that lies within every human being within our organizations.
- Principle-8: We re-ignite the passion in our organizations.
- Principle-9: We are not just talkers, but doers.
- Principle-10: We are building a global network of change catalysts that act from their true selves.
- Principle-11: Our actions lead to new product and services and new global practices for value creation, agility and velocity.
- Principle-12: Our community acts from deep personal awareness and presence, and an irresistible enthusiasm opening up old rusty structured.
- Principle-13: We are architects and scouts into the future,
- Principle-14: and we want to guide our organizations in navigating a safe path from now to then.
- Principle-15: We are very well intentioned individuals.
- Principle-16: We are united people with shared purpose, starting with our own being.
- Principle-17: We maintain integrity and relevance..
- Principle-18: We keep our community a safe environment, where you can become who you want to become. Where you are not alone in being a catalyst.
- Principle-19: Our core values are integrity, clarity of reason, brightness and great positive energy.
- Principle-20: Reflection, reporting back and adding-on to each others input and opinions is our natural way of collecting and discussing opinions.
Start a pod. Organize yourself. Decide on your own activities, your own resources, and your own relationships. And link them back to the mothership, the DNA platform of common, core, connected principles.
Join the rebels
Our main challenge was to get our message clear. We worked pretty hard in a collaborative way, mainly via online collaboration tools like Google Docs, Conference and Skype call to get our message right.
Our new challenge is how to cope with our moderate success. A lot behind the scenes is done in a very manual way. We need some better integration of the different communication channels: website, social media, mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, Google+
We need a better platform for community management and discussion.
We will soon need to allocate ownership and responsibility for the following activities:
- Community management and evangelization
- Funding and/or Sponsoring
- Partnerships with other existing Rebels organizations
- Internal and External communication
- Some sort of shared secretarial and logistical services
We welcome any suggestion for leveraging existing community platforms.
The biggest benefit is connecting an incredible group of highly motivated people. Capturing their input and evolving something that was a baby idea of just a handful of people into something that can rally a larger group of people feels very rewarding.
We have not defined any specific metrics so far, other than that we defined success as having a community of 10,000 pods worldwide, with a good distribution across industries and regions. When we feel whole at work. When the DNA is established, when the pods start to divide, enabled by the lightweight space we are holding. Holding a space is a about context; the job is done when the space is holding itself, when people start saying: “I suddenly feel free to be awesome.” When our practice gets the same attention in annual reports as efficiency practices such as Lean and SixSigma.
Some of the unintended side effects are that we have been contacted by some very senior though leaders to help us and to coach us: network building, in other words.
We were not specifically aware of this MIX challenge. But Michael Zanini, who spotted a Techonomy blog “Seven Ways Organizations can Survive Until 2100” making reference to Innotribe and Corporate Rebels United, informed us of the challenge, and we decided to give it a go.
One of the most important lessons learned so far is that you do not “create” a movement, you cannot force, you never know what will resonate until you get it out in the market.
Therefore, we don’t “plan” too much; we rather plant some seeds out there, and built upon what works and resonates.
However - the group in its early formation stage – has clearly expressed that somebody takes on his/her personal “leadingship” (not a typo, see “The End of Leadership”), to help the group rally through its first growing pain. Yours truly has kindly accepted this invitation.
As the tag line on our website suggests: “Are you also ready to do what hasn’t been done before”, we share in humbleness that we have never done something similar before. So, we welcome any of your suggestions on what we can do better to make an awesome success of our baby-movement.
And yes, of course, we invite you to join Corporate Rebels United, if you believe in our manifesto, our principles and our plans towards progress and a new global practice for value creation.
I am very grateful to the whole team for getting us where we are today, and especially for initial instigators Laura Merling (@magicmerl) and Mike Maney (@the_spinmd), at that time part of Alcatel-Lucent team. Mike is now President, Mobile Monday Mid-Atlantic and consulting under the maney:digital brand.
Mathias Vestergaard is the first Corporate Rebel from the core group starting the first Corporate Rebels Pod in New-York City. Who’s next?
SWIFT and Innotribe, for supporting and encouraging me and letting me do the skunkwork in my free time.
You can find us here:
Twitter: @corprebels, @petervan, @mathiasnyc, @magicmerl, @the_spinmd
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/344393218944669/
Google+ Community: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101113790748317057300