Here Comes Trouble!

James McDonough, Library


This recent blog from Crystal Spraggins caught my eye, “Five Good Reasons Every Company Needs a Troublemaker.” She asserts that companies should add “troublemakers” to their teams. Troublemakers are employees who are dissatisfied with organizations stuck in comfort zones and resistant to change. Troublemakers don’t ignore problems, but raise red flags and foster dialog. They are probably not the most popular people in the room.

Got me thinking about the yin/ yang concepts frequently discussed in publications like Harvard Business Review and Fast Company: disruption and innovation. Businesses and organizations can be disrupted by external innovations and forces beyond their control. Consider how the newspaper and publishing industries have been wholly disrupted by external innovations in web-based commerce and information exchange. The creation/ destruction cycle has doomed their old business models! Can organizations do anything to avoid a similar fate? Maybe that’s where trouble should start from within.


Troublemakers can be internal disruptors, identifying and exposing problems before external factors pounce. That is only half the battle, of course, because the essential next step is to respond with innovation. Is the troublemaker also the right person for that job? Not always. Everyone has their strengths, and not every internal troublemaker/ disruptor will have the answers. An organization’s Leadership is ultimately responsible for fostering innovation and identifying ways to drive those efforts. It sounds counterintuitive, but perhaps organizations should devote efforts to actively disrupt themselves. Not just the typical SWOT analysis, but incentivizing staff or teams to identify problems and innovative ways to overcome them. Ready or not, trouble is coming. Fostering a little internal disruption may be productive and help you prepare!


Does your organization make it safe for “Internal Troublemakers” to spark Disruption/ Innovation? How?