Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Does Creating a Subculture Encourage Innovation or Create Problems?

Alexa Clay has an interesting article at Fast Company titled, "5 Tips for Growing Changemaking Communities in Your Company."   She makes the argument that successful intrapreneurs and change agents build coalitions, develop allies, and foster a community of like-minded folks who can help them enact change.   Here's one of her five tips:

Foster a subculture:  Often social intrapreneurs are adept at creating mini subcultures within their host organizations. But at times, it might feel like the culture you’re trying to create is not reconcilable with the culture of your organization. Ask yourself what is the delta behind the culture that is and the culture that you are trying to create. And the delta should be fairly small. Most people don’t like massive change.

Clay makes a great point here.   Creating a strong sense of team identity for a group of change agents can be a powerful tool for enhancing intrinsic motivation and driving performance.  People love to be part of something unique, and they like feeling as though they are part of something that is going to make a significant impact.   As you build a subculture and foster team identity, you can create a strong in-group vs. out-group dynamic though.   That schism between your group and others can be problematic.   You have to careful not to drive too large a wedge between your subgroup and the broader organization.  If you do, it can be difficult to then build support within or access resources from other parts of the firm to make your change successful.  

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