Leading tribes, cultivating movements, part II

  • Date: June 1, 2009
  • Category: leading

Julia Kirby of Harvard Business Publishing has just written a lovely post about the Stanford d.school CIA team behind the push to turn part of downtown Palo Alto in to a pedestrian zone.  It's titled Starting a Movement, Learning to Lead.  Here's an excerpt:

So you tell me: is Creating Infectious Action a course in
leadership? To be sure, it doesn't focus on individuals' leadership
journeys. There's no competency model at its heart. But what is
leadership all about if not creating a vision of something different
and better, getting people excited about it, and mobilizing everyone to
cooperate in accomplishing it? If you can go out there and create
infectious action, I'm inclined to call you a leader. And if you can't,
you probably shouldn't call yourself one.

I asked Captain Hughes what he'd do next with the toolkit he gained in
Creating Infectious Action. Beyond Palo Alto and pedestrians, would the
course have a lasting impact? "I've always said that if I ever get to
be a General, I would definitely change a few things," he mused. Like
anyone down in an organization, there were some procedures and
policies–like aspects of the Army Physical Fitness Test–he
thought were downright silly. "But now I think maybe you don't need to
be a General," he said. "You just have to get a little movement going.
Then you start getting people on board."

As I wrote in my post about Seth Godin's recent talk at TED, you can't manage a movement, but you can lead one, even cultivate
one.  So yes, Creating Infectious Action is a course about leadership, where leading looks a lot like cultivating a garden

Man, what a great team.  This makes me so happy.