“Originals are people who take the initiative and make their visions a reality,” writes Adam Grant in “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.”
Grant cites two government originals, Central Intelligence Agency analyst Carmen Medina and U.S. Navy lieutenant Josh Steinman, who both worked to change traditional thinking within two large bureaucracies.
Steinman, using a Trojan horse approach to change, played a key role in getting the Defense Department to open an innovation hub in Silicon Valley, and today it has DIUx Silicon Valley.
Medina’s anecdote gets much more focus, chronicling the lifecycle of her (initially unsuccessful) attempts to establish better cross-agency intelligence communications. Medina finally succeeded after ascending into a leadership role with authority, enabling the creation of Intellipedia, an internal collaboration tool for the intelligence community, as well as blogging within the agency, inspiring others to follow suit and, over time, quietly building a “network of rebels.”
There’s more to Grant’s “Originals” than these two anecdotes, but it’s refreshing to see case studies on how change can be made from within.