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I have been called many things with regard to my little notes.  Some of which I can say in public (moron, idiot, the voice of reason) and some of which I can’t (*******, ****** *****, *******, amongst others).  I discovered for myself the name I like:  provocateur.  I just need to learn to spell it.  The Collins English Dictionary says a provocateur is:

a person who deliberately behaves controversially in order to provoke argument or other strong reactions

Webster’s New World College Dictionary focuses more on the cultural impact of a provocateur:

a writer, artist, political activist, etc. whose works, ideas or activities are regarded as a threat to accepted values or practices

Being the narcissist that I am I kind of like the second meaning.  It’s not so much that I am a threat, but that the ideas that I am promoting are a threat.  I have to say, however, that not many of the ideas that I have are actually my ideas.  Like all artists, I rip off other people.  I mean, when I thought I had a good idea – Cultural Debt – a little bit of research showed that I was playing second fiddle to someone else.  (Not that playing second fiddle is a bad thing, but first fiddle is, well, first.)

What is scary sometimes is that the ideas that I am promoting in my often roundabout way (no wonder my wife hates my stores) are old ideas.  Ideas that have persisted for days and days, heck, years of studying and investigation and have shown themselves to be valuable ideas.

And yet, as an organization, we haven’t adopted them.  The idea that it is easier to teach a leader to manage than it is to teach a manager to lead.  The idea that with the advent of the customer/citizen-centric model we should be working with the consumers, the citizens who use our services, and figure out what it is that they want us to deliver, rather than delivering something that we want to deliver.  The idea that just because something is not necessarily cost-justified, does not mean that it shouldn’t be done.  The idea that a failure is indeed an option.

For some people these ideas are heretical in nature, flying in the face of decades of historical precedence.  For others, these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg with more exciting things to come.  We all want to improve, we all want to become better at what we do and create better outcomes for people.  How far you are willing to go to improve, not just yourself but the organization is reflected in how many of those heretical ideas resonate within.

Perhaps it is the digital innovators we should be looking for in our organization?  Look for those for whom the organization culture is merely the yogurt topping on a snack bar instead of the entire meal.  The fury of the void approaches and we will either be swallowed by the maelstrom or rise to the surface.  It’s our choice.

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