Embracing followers as equals

November 2, 2011 · by Allison Porter · Filed Under Choices, Previous · Leave a Comment

At the OD Network conference this week, we heard Chris Worley from Pepperdine University talk about organization development and how the role of the consultant is changing.  He said that we need to support organizations in becoming more adaptive and sustainable, which requires looking up and out more than down.  What I took from that was that for change to take root within an organization, people at all levels need to be connected to the higher purpose and the external context that create the need for innovation.  This may in the end drive change more deeply into the culture than focusing on effective and humanized command and control.  Interesting idea.

But perhaps the biggest ah-ha for me came in the middle of his talk, when he showed a short clip – 3 minutes – on the role of “first followers.”  In his words, “the first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.”  He pointed out, using a video of a shirtless guy dancing at a festival, that the rest of the followers were actually following the first follower, not the leader. We are familiar with the concept early adapters, and we might call them leaders and not followers. But the critical insight for me was that what worked was that the leader embraced his followers as equals.  He taught them the moves by dancing with them.  Check it out:

How to Start a Movement



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