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Mission Pack N0.

3 Building Community


Collaboration is the human face of systems thinking.


Hello Cubicle Warrior, today, you are The Super Connector: building relationships for world changing impact!
Your mission
Fostering a sense of community around your idea. + Earning the trust of your peers + Working to foster collaboration across siloes and sectors + Democratizing ownership so that your venture can live on without you + Aligning your venture with the culture of your organization

Your challenges

You have an uncanny ability to know whom to connect to and when. You thrive on relationships and feeling connected to a bigger community. You find ways of working across siloes and building collaborations that touch upon a wider agenda.

Your super power


At the core, we are all social beings. We want to belong. To feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Where religious and civic organizations once fulfilled this sense of community, companies are increasingly becoming a place where people find connection and fulfillment. Perhaps because we spend so much of our time at work, we are finding the need to align our values with our day jobs. Social intrapreneurs – you – are early adopters of this new modality. You are finding meaning at work, bringing your values to business and engaging in a bigger purpose. Through your work you have an opportunity to model a new way. To show people that there is more to a day job than ticking boxes. Often unaware of your powers, you are slowly helping to shift how people think and work around you. Collaboration is the face of Systems Thinking. – Peter Senge  More practically, as an intrapreneur, mobilizing communities is about getting your ideas off the ground. Whether you’re tackling climate, health or poverty – solving systemic issues requires partnerships with unlikely players: no one team, company or even sector can fix a wicked problem on its own. 

Partnerships like The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Starbucks Cup Summit and PharmaFutures are examples of how collaboration has become the new norm.  The good news is that as an intrapreneur, you are likely a natural born collaborator. Because of your insider-outsider mindset and approach you are able to work across institutional siloes, sectors, and traditional organizational boundaries to pursue a more systemic agenda. Some might even call you an “ex-trapreneur” because you foster connections and communities in unlikely places.


Visualize your system
Make a list of all the stakeholders who have a vested interest in the problem you’re trying to solve. Try to go beyond the usual suspects and think about organizations or communities you might never engage with who are part of the ’ecosystem of concern’ on which you’re working. Map out these actors and understand their competencies and points of leverage within the system. Then spot areas where a shared agenda could emerge. This visual can be the jumping off point for building powerful collaborations with unlikely actors.

Connect with your intrapreneurial counterparts
Whether you’re building out a private-public sector partnership, working with SMEs through your supply chain, or fostering collaborations with other companies, make sure that you connect with like-minded intrapreneurs within these organizations. Increasingly companies are building out interesting partnerships across sectors – a logistics company might partner with a healthcare company, for example, to help deliver affordable medicines. The challenge is these collaborations require an enterprising spirit to be ignited and sustained. So find the right allies in other organizations that you can rely and depend on to accelerate these types of initiatives. You’ll save time and energy by working with others who share the same mindset as you.


Keep listening
High functioning communities are ones where individuals listen to each other and people feel their voices are heard. Beware of isolating yourself with a community of enablers. Make sure to seek input from naysayers who think within the dominant logic of your company.

Design for integration
From the get-go, make sure your initiative ties back to core business. Sometimes at the early phases of a project you might need space and freedom, but don’t stay isolated for too long. It’s important to be able to identify a pathway back into your organization. When you become too detached from your organization you risk being marginalized for good. Find ways to establish feedback loops through communication and engagement with core business.

‘I have established a network of detractors that help me identify my weak points. I approach them early on in the development of a new idea, so I can build a more effective case.’
Daniel Vennard Mars, Inc.


Create cultural alignment
Often social intrapreneurs are adept at creating mini subcultures within their host organizations. At times, it might feel like the culture you’re trying to create is not reconcilable with the culture of your organization. Ask yourself what is the delta behind the culture that is and the culture that you are trying to create. And the delta should be fairly small. Most people don’t like massive change.

Practice Code-Switching
Be able to shift how you communicate, depending on your audience – know the right language to use depending on your stakeholder. Part of building community has to do with knowing how to translate your prerogative into the language of others. Of all the tactics people use to influence senior management, adapting the frame to the audience is the most effective, according to recent research by University of Michigan Professors Jane Dutton and Sue Ashford. So give yourself time to customize your message. And develop an understanding of the different types of messaging that works for different audiences.

‘When I think of our failures, they came when we got too far away from our core. We’re a sports company. For people to get excited at Nike, it has to tie back to this.’
Sarah Severn, Systems Innovation, Nike.


Build trust
Communities are run on trust. And the biggest opposition to your new idea or venture is how others perceive you within your organization. Certain rebels with companies are just going to be inherently untrusted by others that have a stake in business as usual, so go out of your way to earn others’ trust. Some of the most successful intrapreneurs are ones who have already shown that they can “win” at business as usual; that they can play the game and do an outstanding job in areas that the company really cares about. In proving yourself, you then gain more permission to experiment.

Be generous
If you willingly give of your own time and talent to help others with their projects, and help them succeed you will gain their trust. Let go of your own agenda and step in to help and mentor others that might need your advice. Contribute fully and be prepared to let go of ownership of your ideas. The important thing is that you help others succeed.

I remember one of the first community meetings we had. We were describing how we wanted to work together on pilot programs, and start a process of experimenting, and learning and exploring. One of the community leaders stopped me in my tracks and said, ‘Before we go any further, I want to be really clear. This may be a pilot to you, but this is our lives. We don’t need more people to sweep in and try to save us’.
Amy Chen


Connect on a human level
Find people who share your vision. Spend time together face to face. Find ways to connect as human beings – have dinner together, travel and meet each other in the real world, play together. At the end of the day, your community is comprised of people – people working together to change the world. Mechanical things like MOUs, scopes of work, IP Agreements, project plans, etc. will help clarify your plan and approach, but nothing can replace human connections.

Democratize ownership
Make sure your initiative is not overly dependent on you or any one champion for its success. Your venture needs to be selfsustaining beyond any one leader. Once you prove the model, how can you institutionalize the idea? Try to factor this on early on, exploring potential internal and external partners who can pick up when you move on.

‘If you don’t have the personal connection, and the meaning of what you’re trying to achieve together, the rest is just veneer.’
Miriam Turner, Interface.


The hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true.


Small steps
ENGAGe WITH QUeSTIONS RATHeR THAN ANSWeRS. It’s human nature to find the Instead, consider how you flaws in an argument. If you can present your idea in a way present your idea as fully fleshed, that allows for other people to you set yourself up for critique contribute. You’re more likely and you limit the potential for to end up with a better idea as deeper engagement by others. well as people who feel greater ownership of the outcome.

Bigger steps
FACILITATe UN-SCRIPTeD SHARING AND STORYTeLLING Stories ignite community by Giving people space to speak building intimacy and offering candidly and unrestrictedly about a sense of shared experience their work fosters learning and and principles. Stories are also understanding particularly across key to fostering knowledge flows organizational siloes. within any organization. Too often we defer to simple scripted updates on a busy meeting agenda rather than carve our space for genuine sharing. HOST A COLLABORATORY A Collaboratory is a mash up of collaboration + laboratory – in essence, collaborating for innovation. Collaboratories can be as simple as a one-day workshop or as complex as a long-term, multi-stakeholder project. The beauty of a collaboratory is that it gets actors from various parts of the system speaking to one another. You’ll be surprised at how disconnected all the players are and how much they will learn. The goal of the collaboratory process is to build a community of players who have a shared commitment to a common purpose and who see the benefit of working together to change the system.

CReATe SPACe fOR YOUR COMMUNITY TO CONNeCT. Whether analogue or digital, the benefit of belonging to the community for many will be connecting with others in the ‘tribe’. Human connections are best, but digital tools are becoming increasingly effective at connecting people. Jive, Yammer, Facebook and Opal are all great tools to connect intrapreneurs with their supporters. Nike’s Girl Effect team established a physical space on Nike’s campus that included inspiring images and quotes as a way to keep the project visible and create a playful space for community connections.


Where can I learn more?
Just Listen Mark Goulston Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Everyone.  American Management Association. Appreciative Inquiry David Cooperrider & Diana Whitney Written by the founders of AI, this short, practical guide offers an approach to organizational change based on the possibility of a more positive future. Thinking In Systems Donella Meadows. Sadly, this wise woman passed away in 2009. But her book remains a helpful primer for anyone interested in learning more about systems. The Donella Meadows Institute also provides additional resources on systems thinking. More Time to Think Nancy Kline A Way of Being in the World.  Fisher King Publishing, 2009 Academy for Systems Change. This is a global community working to crystallize and disseminate emerging knowledge, values and practices to create social systems that foster biological, social and economic well being. Frog Design Collective Action Tool Kit: An outline of key protocols and tools for working collaboratively in communities. collective-action-toolkit Solving Wicked Problems Jon Kolko Jon Kolko provides a practical handbook to help intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs design for impact. The full book is available online for free at IDEO: Human Centered Design Toolkit Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this toolkit offers concrete practices for better understanding community needs and finding innovative solutions to meet those needs. Community: The Structure of Belonging Peter Block Offers a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen. For learning about the spirit and tools of hosting effective and meaningful community conversations, about creating community space

We would like to thank our experts for their contributions. Charlie Brown Context Partners Joanna Hafenmayer MyImpact Nancy McGaw Aspen Institute Sarah Severn Nike Miriam Turner Interface Karabi Acharya Ashoka Marshall Clemens idiagram


‘Over the coming decades, an accelerating pace of change will test the resilience of every society, organization and individual. The balance of promise and peril confronting any particular organization will depend on its capacity for adaptation. Hence, the most important question for any company is this: are we changing as fast as the world around us?’

Over the past five years we have sought to make social intrapreneurship part of the formula for how we think about changing the world. Our initial forays into the field began with John Elkington in The Social Intrapreneur – A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers. Building on this initial study, we stepped out and rallied greater institutional support to invest in the creation of a network for corporate changemakers. In the Fall of 2012, The League of Intrapreneurs was born with support from Ashoka, Accenture, the Inter-American Investment Corporation, GlaxoSmithKline, Standard Chartered, Virgin and a number of other partners. The Cubicle Warriors Toolkit grows out of our experiences working in the trenches with leading change-agents at large institutions. The creation of this toolkit would not have been possible without input from leading experts and practitioners, including members of the League of Intrapreneuers.

We would especially like to thank: Gib Bulloch at Accenture and Rosario Londono at the InterAmerican Investment Corporation for their support in helping us grow this community and contributing to the mounting canon of knowledge in service of social intrapreneruship. Maggie de Pree and Alexa Clay The Human Agency More about the Human Agency can be found at:

This document was designed by Adam Loxley. Illustrations have been done by Tom Jennings.