Communities are on my mind this week: we interact with them in so many ways, find them in so many places and achieve so much within and alongside them (which is why they sit at the heart of Social Leadership). Today, i’m reflecting on the role of subversive communities to drive change.
Communities serve many functions: for challenge, for support, to co-create meaning and for ‘sense making‘, but a central role is to subvert established authority and process. Effectively, they can be bodies for driving change.
I’m particularly interested in this co-creative and co-owned model as it changes the fundamental dynamic of change: instead of it being us against the organisation, it becomes a question of whether you are part of the change community or outside it, which is a totally different decision. Ally this with the supportive and nurturing nature of community, and it’s a powerful model to both drive and support organisational change.
Look at NHS Change Day, a move to drive (to co-create) change within the NHS (in the UK and other countries through allied approaches and methods. What i really like about this is it’s truly social nature of change and it’s willingness for the community to shape the story. NHS Change Day (and allied transformation efforts) isn’t about a defined purpose, or at least not a purpose beyond making things better. Instead, it’s about creating a permissive environment to be excellent: it’s about creating a situation where it’s ok to talk about change and to gather momentum behind it.
The use of ‘pledges‘ is powerful: a site where you can make a pledge and share those of others: this isn’t an organisational restructure towards a defined goal, it’s about making your inner desire public, within the safety of a community of change. Like all good communities, there are shared values: around patient care, a desire to be better, a desire to support others in being better. This shared vision leads to momentum. Momentum challenges inertia (and i’ll be forgiven for stating that the NHS, like many organisations, is not short of inertia).
We can reframe the dynamics of change, away from restructuring and budgets towards desire and community. We normalise the conversation about change, making it easy to amplify our messages in a supportive shared space.
It’s a long journey, but a fascinating one.
Communities can subvert process and do so in an inclusive and dynamic way. That’s the reality of change in the Social Age, and you may as well be part of it, because it happens anyway, whether sanctioned or not.