Individuals as Instigators

If you could walk into every single company on the planet and spend some time observing the individuals who work at them, over time you’d uncover groups of individuals who, for various reasons, have greater impact than the rest of the employees. Regardless how enlightened or conservative an organization may be, there are always ways for certain individuals to figure out how to increase the impact they’re having on the organization. This section is about just that—how can you, as one individual in a much larger organization, focus on impact?

You might ask, why bother? If you aren’t rewarded for your innovations, and managers don’t care, what would be the point? First, you’d feel far more engaged with your work—if you have to work, you might as well make the most of it and take pride in what you do. Second, by the very act of focusing on the work you do that will have the greatest impact, you’d influence everyone around you to do the same, essentially kick-starting a more widespread change process. I’m talking about grassroots efforts, which can add up more quickly than you might imagine.

Be prepared: Focusing your work on the impact it has requires becoming a bit of an instigator. You’ll have to relearn how to ask everyone around you a very important and sometimes annoying question: Why?

Why?

Children are very good at asking the question why, usually preceded by “but”:

Mom: “It’s time to go to bed.”

Child: “But why?”

Mom: “Because I said so.”

Perhaps, ...

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