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Q&A: How do I create change when there's little interest?

"How do I create effective change in an organization where there's no interest from top leadership and there's not a strong culture in place already?" —Emma, Director of Software Engineering

Catalyzing change can be challenging, and we can’t do it alone. We need allies to help inspire insights, navigate politics, and implement change efforts. We also need buddies to support us when the going gets hard.

So what do you do when your vision of change doesn’t align with current company priorities? It’s challenging, but certainly not impossible, to move the needle—if you’re willing to play a long game. It’s time to slowly increase your influence.

Kinetic Change Principle: Show, don’t tell

“People don’t resist change. People resist BEING changed.” – Peter Senge

Unless the ground is fertile, assertive advocacy shouldn’t be your first choice. Instead, aim to create inspiring new experiences for people. Look for small ways you can pilot the change. Then, every chance you get, tell the story about how it’s going and what you’re learning.

Kinetic Change Principle: Crowdsource

Crowdsourcing is a new change management pattern—recognizing that when the crowd participates in co-creating, change is embraced faster and its impact is wider. Early efforts at this should start small and focus on fun.

Here’s an experiment you could try: Launch a "hackathon" focusing on improving internal tools or processes, where teams are encouraged to come up with innovative solutions to existing problems. Focus on fun and creativity. Be sure to count how many solutions are implemented and measure team morale before and after.

Kinetic Change Principle: Build your Internal Network

Your change buddies don’t necessarily need to be your peers. Gather influencers from various parts of the organization and give them a platform to share their insights and success stories related to small changes they've implemented. This could be an informal brown bag, or an online “Change Coffee” on Friday mornings.

Once your network gains momentum, share stories through internal presentations, workshops, or newsletters. Keep an eye on leading indicators of success such as how many teams implement similar changes, the engagement level in these sessions, and feedback from participants on the usefulness of the insights shared.

Share your thoughts and tips below!

For ongoing support and resources about concrete ways to magnify your changemaker skills, subscribe to our “Expand your Change Influence” plan:

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

The "Share, Don't Tell" section is amazingly simple but profound.


ohhh, I like change coffee! I definitely have a change agent contender where I am, and I end up being a medium between him and our team of SM/RTE etc. I feel like finding a forum to be able to include him and others with ideas could be helpful, maybe change coffee can be that!


Feb 16
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