The Disruptive Thinker Corporate Survival Kit

So…you’re a Disruptive Thinker. You work at a big company. And you want to make change happen.

I won’t dwell on the fact that you may be at the wrong place – a start-up may offer a better ecosystem for your disruptive thinking – but here you are: for many reasons, you like your job, your company, and you’re here to stay. You wouldn't actually mind being even more recognized than today for the great value you bring.

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You know it is tough - the system is just NYF (Not Your Friend). A majority of large companies love Good Corporate Citizens - see previous post. HR perception, performance evaluation systems and promotions depend on managers' evaluations of their subordinates. Managers call upon their team’s creativity but they seldom enjoy being challenged. When they’re not supportive enough and you’re seeking support elsewhere in the organization, there’s a significant probability it backfires.

Remember: if you rock the boat too hard, you may find your career advancing more slowly than hoped .

But this doesn’t mean you’re left powerless. Here are several options

  1. Work on yourself. Take all opportunities to improve your diplomacy skills. Identify your stress signals. Request a competencies assessment or 360° feedback. Read this
  2. Network with like-minded people. Enterprise social networks are a fantastic opportunity to connect with people outside of your functional or geographical scope. Through discussion streams you can easily identify other disruptive thinkers. Strengthen the relationship by meeting IRL them whenever possible, and by connecting as well on external social networks. Informal networks and social capital are keys to driving change.
  3. Launch a community. There are probably many people who think like you, but who don’t dare to speak – or haven’t thought about it. Take the opportunity, and launch a community around the change you would like to push forward. Be ready for some hard work, as a community doesn't take shape overnight. If you’re really serious about it, the outcomes can be really rewarding.
  4. Look for external visibility. Being recognized externally can only reinforce your position internally and even grow your influence. Join a professional association related to your job and contribute to its activities or governance. Connect with thought leaders, academics and professional conferences organizers in your area. See what, in your practice, could result in interesting public speeches. Social networks are of utmost importance here, both to accelerate connections and provide visibility. This also gives you an external view of you and your work, which may be surprisingly at odds with how you are seen internally.

After you've (seriously) tried all this, if you’re still unhappy about your impact and recognition at work, then it may be time to look for more favorable horizons.

I would love to hear about your experience and recommendations. What is your corporate survival kit?