Fast Company

After The Revolution, Enter The Evolutionary

Revolutionary disruptions are necessary when social and cultural malaise hits a tipping point. The Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Tea Party all signal the need people feel for radical change in their lives. But what happens when instability ensues?

Revolution disrupts the flow long enough for a reconfiguration. However, revolution can also be met with the equally opposing force of the status quo. Are you a victim of opposing forces in your career or business? Is the irresistible force meeting an immovable object? How do you move forward without completely destroying or upending institutions you and others may rely on? 

Enter the evolutionary, one who works well with others.

Evolutionaries contribute to incremental changes that build to points of rapid transformation. With self-empowered mass communication playing such an important role in effecting change today, the everyday, common evolutionary is more empowered than ever. These are the individuals to activate when an outcome needs to occur or a revolution needs a follow-up. Here's how: 

1. Give tension a role of its own. 

Bring the tension to light. Air out your grievances and agree to disagree. Recognize your differences, map out the blockages, and give it a name. Call it creative tension or glam it up and call it Operation Breakthrough. Most important, once you have discovered the specifics of the disagreement, you can find the areas of agreement and move forward on those points.

2. Find a shared vision. 

Agree on a common, big-picture vision when you begin a project. Found shared values are important not only between each team member and group but also the end-engager, the one you seek to affect. The common vision or mission stands as your glue, your touchstone. If you define and agree on a common vision then you know you are all in it together and passion is then directed forward. A strong mission or vision statement is something you can feel; emotional connectedness is highly motivating.

3. Use non-threatening communication tools. 

Instead of judging the actions of the people around you and contributing to the charge of the situation, take the judgment out and empower yourself to focus on communicating effectively. By expressing your needs in ways that can be heard, tension can dissipate, contribution can occur. Look at communication styles, study them, know them, and develop an arsenal.

4. Embrace chaos. 

Allow the contribution of ideas and influences to come from many places. It is important to be open and get comfortable with chaos while keeping a clear eye out for the influential nuggets. Keep your curator's hat on and live your life as a continual curator. Curation and synthesis are key. We’ll address this later in an upcoming post.

5. Recognize the opportunity. 

Ignite your empathy to intuit what the groups' needs are as well as those of the end user. Tune into your needs, ask around and see what is missing. What is the gaping hole not being filled or addressed? Typically this is the invisible, undefined, hard place to deal with but also the opportunity space. Make sure to address the conversation around this opening as well as tried and true areas of access.

6. If you can’t go through, go parallel. 

Instead of running at that brick wall, run alongside it. There are processors and then there are parallel processors. Parallel processors crunch the same numbers but they divvy up the information and workload to get faster results. Experiences can be shared to create a new dynamic that can transform competing views and foster greater team building.

7. Be difficult. 

While evolutionaries generally like to make nice, an evolutionary/revolutionary continuum exists for you to draw from. Sometimes it’s okay to be difficult--that’s how you create new paradigms. While saying yes is powerful, you can’t always be agreeable; at some point you have to stand your ground. Many artists and scientists have had to go against the grain and have faced opposition and resistance…no matter what. Sometimes you have to say no. Keeping in mind, how you say no matters.

The world is in a complex conundrum right now and we say embrace it.

We are in the midst of revolution, upending, reinvention and phoenix rising. Raise your procedural IQ glass high and make a cheer. We suggest becoming fluid social and business evolutionaries. This is how innovation begins and secures itself in the face of change, by embracing purposeful and not so purposeful co-created instability, formulating our own form of stability in flux.

The solution is to embrace the tensions, work with it, forge visions, apply and not give up. The evolution/revolution continuum requires that at times we apply pressure individually, at other times work together, at other times work silently and forge ahead. Onward!

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Jody Turner is a future trends strategist who works with companies, conferences, and organizations in bringing forth thriving and relevant futures. Turner is CEO and founder of the global insights group CultureofFuture.com, a trend innovation group working with companies such as BMW, Munich, and is associated with Trendwatching, London. (@cultureoffuture). Coauthor Jerry Ketel is Culture of Future’s strategist. He is also the founder/creative director of Leopold Ketel & Partners, a West Coast branding and innovation firm. His clients and partners have included Pendleton Whisky, Benchmade Knives, Tillamook Cheese, The Humane Society, and Microsoft. Join his unedited mind @jerryketel.

[Image: Flickr user Congvo]

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