Instigator, not an insurgent

Last week, David Eaves asked whether young public servants are having  to turn to insurgent tactics to build the workplace of the 21st century, largely because the bureaucracy is stultifyingly slow to make collaborative tools and work processes available to them. Can a large organization - at least one headquartered outside Silicon Valley - accomodate cultural change and an ongoing challenge to the organizational status-quo?

It appears that General Electric is taking steps in the right direction. In an article in this month's Harvard Business Review, and accompanying podcast, chief marketing officer Beth Comstock explains how the global conglomerate has identified four specific roles that marketers must assume if the organization is to continue to grow: instigator, innovator, integrator, and implementer.

"Marketing leaders need to think strategically and challenge the status quo, using their unique external vantage point to see what may not be apparent to others in the business. Sometimes this entails moving beyond preaching about marketing’s merits to imagining scenarios that business heads might face—perhaps marketing’s most important role. Leaders must be willing to push change."

An instigator is just that: a member of the team that pushes for strategic change, often to the discomfort of others.

Or, more simply:

Instigator: Incites a “better way” using a unique vantage point to see around corners (a GE Director, speaking at BMA Chicago)

In a comment to David's original post, Geordie Adams notes that

"I see them inside the public service regularly, wish I could say everyday. I just call them progressive though, not insurgents."

Let's remember that GE has identified FOUR roles as essential to the success of its unit, industry and global marketing efforts: instigator, innovator, integrator, and implementer .

I argue that we can identify colleagues in the public service (whether you self-identify as #w2p, #goc, #gov20 or whatever) whose behaviour echoes one or more of these roles. Some are good at selling ideas, others are good at developing new strategies, and others are very good at the not-so-simple job of execution.

Working as a team, public servants from a range of backgrounds and equipped with a variety of skillsets can get great work done.

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