“Outside In” – How the Outsider can Disrupt Mature Communities and Effect Positive Change #69 #cong19

Synopsis:

Mature communities have an established culture that may not serve them, and this requires change.
Outsiders can see the need for change more clearly and may bring fresh ideas.
The outsider has less to lose but more to gain from change. It’s more natural for an outsider to drive change.
Outsiders don’t have to ask the community for permission.
Communities usually have some members who are receptive to change, who influence others.
The outsider will gain more influence when the benefits to the community start to flow.
Sometimes outsiders become insiders. Eventually new outsiders are needed to restart the cycle.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Outsiders are more likely than insiders to drive change.
  2. Outsiders don’t need to ask for permission.
  3. Outsiders gain influence by bringing clear benefits to the community.
  4. When outsiders become insiders, new outsiders are required.

About Eamonn Toland:

I have some experience of the role of an outsider.

I’m the founder of a secondary school maths support system who has never been a classroom teacher. I’m a technologist who can’t program. I’m a minis rugby coach who has never played rugby. I’m a Donegal man living in Mayo.

My appetite for disruption has been commented upon since around the age of 3.

Contacting Eamonn Toland:

You can follow Richard on Twitter, connect with him on Facebook or see his work in the Maths Tutor

By Eamonn Toland

Every mature community, whether it be a rugby club, a resident’s association, an education system, or even a business has its own unique culture. This culture encompasses values and beliefs, knowledge, behaviour, rules, norms and customs. The culture can also extend to tools and techniques used by the group.

This established culture evolved to serve the community, but sometimes elements of the culture can outlive their usefulness. They gradually (or suddenly) need to be updated, supplemented or replaced by new elements that are more aligned with and beneficial to the aims of the community.

This is particularly true in the 21st century, considering the fast pace of change in technology, environment, economics, politics and society.

The insiders belonging to the community may be unaware of the need for change. Alternatively they may be conscious of the need, but feel powerless or unaware of how to effect the change, or they may be actively opposed to change. A conservative attitude should not be assumed to exist, but it is usually present among some members in mature communities, and some may actively benefit from retaining the status quo.

Often it is the outsider, who doesn’t belong to the community, who can see the need for change most clearly. The outsider does not adhere to the culture of the group and is less likely to accept its underlying assumptions. “We’ve always done it this way” may act as a sedative for the insider, but it can be a stimulant for the outsider, provoking them to look for opportunities to effect positive change.

The outsider has no stake or a low stake in the community, and so has less to lose but more to gain from change. The opposite is true for the insider. Therefore, it is more natural for an outsider to drive change.

Outsiders don’t have to ask the community for permission, because initially no-one knows or cares about their ideas. This gives them the freedom to pursue their ideas, to experiment, to fail and to refine their vision for change.

Mature communities usually have some members who are receptive to positive change, who can be enlisted as influencers on the wider community.

The outsider will gain acceptance and more influence when the benefits to the community start to flow. Bring the community some quick wins and build on that.

Sometimes outsiders become insiders. Eventually new outsiders will be needed to start the cycle again. The new insiders may fulfil the role of influencer for this phase!

Comments
  • Bob Kennedy says:

    Interesting insights. When groups are viewed as a system comprised of context, climate, clients and culture we can begin to visualise why they are behaving as they do.

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