Protagonists of change 1: The Activist

Do you have a difficult challenge to overcome?
Do you need to take action now?
Do you want someone who will persist until the goal is achieved?
Then you want … an activist.
Before we go any further, these are not ‘enthusiasts’, you’ll have to wait for them in a future blog.  Activists are quite different. Let’s imagine your ship is sinking in the middle of the English Channel.  Do you want to be surrounded by people who enthusiastically and tirelessly bail out sea water with an espresso cup, or someone whose first thought is to find ways to fix the leak?
Activists are a set of unique people who generate innovation in your organisation.  Many are unsung heroes, unrecognised by managers, or worse still, actively discouraged because they threaten the status quo.  But, without their new ideas the organisation will fail to develop and will lose ground to competitors. 
Can you spot them? They are an invaluable source of innovation because they see the big picture but are aware of the situation and always looking to solve problems rather than spend hours talking about it.  In a meeting they work to understand what is needed, often suspending judgement they ask insightful questions to clear away the debris so they can build a clear picture of what is happening.  Then, they act with purpose to get the job done, often showing great political acumen to get people on side. Most importantly they are prepared to take risks to bring about improvement.
The problem with activists is they are hard to control, which is why they often get squashed by managers who don’t share their vision or drive.  They can be seen as a threat, not only to their managers but also to the status quo.  Given a chance they will shine.  In fact, they should be positively nurtured and encouraged because they are the ones that bring about true creativity and positive change.
These organisational super heroes are all around us just waiting to be asked to demonstrate their special talents.  All you have to do is create a culture where they can thrive. 
Thanks to Mike Rix for the ideas