Shakeup Don’t Blowup


Running from discomfort is normal but deadly. Shakeups – strategic discomfort – create vibrancy.

Repetition produces predictability.

Predictability produces comfort.

Comfort produces resistance.

Organizational rigor mortis sets in.

“We’ve always done it that way.”

Resistance rejects the new and unknown
because it’s new and unknown.

Patterns, processes, and systems are necessary for stability, productivity, and quality control. But, structures naturally resist change and innovation. Stagnation and death set in.

Leadership begins with disruption.

Shakeup don’t blowup:

Leaders don’t let disruption happen, they cause it.

Create vibrancy and growth with
strategic discomfort.

The elements of successful shakeups include:

  1. Purpose. Shakeup for the sake of shakeup irritates. Effective disruption has positive intention that everyone understands, even if it’s uncomfortable.
  2. Timing. Shakeup after shakeup after shakeup exasperates. “Oh no! It’s another reorganization.”
  3. Duration. Temporary disruptions are tolerable even exciting. Permanent disruption deflates.

Successful shakeups inspire individuals and teams to rise up not blow up.


Temporarily reassign a team leader; replace them with a team member.

  1. Identify and agree upon a project that inspires and challenges the current team leader.
  2. Establish broader purpose. This project represents a new challenge and opportunity that expands skills and influence. It also makes room to develop members of the team.
  3. Clarify the disruption. During the project the current team leader will not lead or attend meetings with the current team.
  4. Discuss it with the current team. Explain intent and duration.
  5. Develop skill gaps in the new, temporary, team leader.
  6. Form a small taskforce to complete the new project. Set tight deadlines.
  7. Stay available during transitions. Don’t disrupt an abandon.
  8. Debrief when the taskforce disbands.
  9. Celebrate success.
  10. Explore guidelines for future shakeups.

Suggestions from Facebook include:

  1. Address uncomfortable topics.
  2. Say, “No,” and develop alternatives.
  3. Explore how to better utilize people. Value people over processes.

What are the elements of successful disruption?

How does disruption go wrong?