The burden of implementation

If you’re reading our blog, chances are that you’re interested in organisational change. In that case, maybe you recognise the following situation: You stumble upon a new, fascinating resource in the form of a book, blog, framework or similar. You immerse yourself into this fresh, modern and beautiful sphere of new work – you realise that this is the future and how things must be! And then you reach the final page, the last paragraph, you close the book or browser and find yourself back where you started.


“Where do I go from here?” you ask. Because not going anywhere seems to be an option no more: You have peaked behind the curtain and seen the promised land; how could you keep living in the status quo that now appears ridiculously outdated and hopelessly stuck? But how can you reach the promised land? How do you make that first step and in which direction?

In my case, those questions lead to six months of  increasing frustration, then quitting my job and starting a company of our own together with my wife – but is that the advice I would give to everyone? Well, I wouldn’t discourage you from doing so, but I don’t plan to make it my core message. The purpose of topdog innovation is to enable organisations and workers to actually make a change for a better environment – to make their own promised land.

But again, how to get there? It seems to me that is where most visionaries of work fall short: actually bringing about the change they preach. This becomes especially relevant when you not only want to change your team or project but you have a whole organisation to manage and transform. This is the challenge of turning Agile from an operations-focused effectivity booster into the strategic and cultural Holy Grail.

We firmly believe that for a change to be both meaningful and sustainable you must make your workers co-designers of the future – they are the ones that are supposed to populate the promised land and so they need to have authority over how it’s conceived. This means you might not actually end up with the exact vision you yourself had in mind and that’s good: Organisational change doesn’t work if you push through a pre-defined layout top-to-bottom.

“But how do I get my managers and teams to design the future when they’ve had the status quo drilled into them for years or decades?” you ask – and rightly so. The short answer is, you don’t. The longer answer is, you don’t push anything on anyone (remember, it doesn’t work) – instead you create a pull that affects those workers among your ranks who have the same yearnings you do but don’t know how to make the drive behind their discontent applicable. That’s the good thing about out-of-date organisations: You are sure to have the designers you need on board already.

Your pull will be created by a pioneering unit we call an innovation lab. It’s basically a sandbox designed to try out new practices on a small scale, fail a lot, learn even more and then roll out that which works into your main organisation from peers to peers – when it’s been tested and empirically validated in the very company it’s meant for.

There is no prescribed future for tomorrow’s organisations – how could there be unless we wanted every single one to be exactly alike. But there are proven tools we can put to use today to design our individual future – the main ones being the principles of Lean Startup, Lean Change Management and the Sprint developed by Google Ventures.

It’s obviously my hope that the contents on this blog are somewhat interesting to those who happen upon it – if that is the case with this post, let this last paragraph be about what comes after you close your browser: How to get started in the direction of a lasting change. Let’s talk about your way to the promised land – you know where to find us!


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