Inklings: a rebel alliance at Oxford

Forming a rebel alliance within your organization is one way to find the support to accomplish important work. Work that is outside the cultural norm of the overall organization. Or, that challenges the assumptions of the larger organization. One example of a rebel alliance is The Inklings, a group of Oxford University  professors and writers who felt stifled by the academic seriousness and solemnity of that revered institution. Feeling a bit alienated from the English Dept in 1926, Professors C.S. Lewis, J.R. R. Tolkien and other friends started meeting at a local pub.

Their intent, in Tolkien's words was to explore "vague or half formed intimations on ideas." (Note: many rebel ideas begin in an  unformed way. But a feeling exists that there must be a different or better way. Explore that feeling.)

In other words, these Oxford rebels wanted to experiment with new ideas that didn't fit with what Oxford viewed as proper literature. Rather than feeling rejected, they came together to share ideas, experiment, get support from one another, and ultimately to create some of their best work.  For Lewis it was "The Chronicles of Narnia." For Tolkien it was "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings."

They didn't try to change Oxford. Rather, they found a way to do create fascinating new work while still teaching at Oxford.

This same approach can work today in large organizations.  The secret is finding people who have similar interests, making time to talk about observations and what if's, and supporting one another in a safe and enjoyable way.

Amazing things can happen when people who care about possibilities and one another find time to just hang out.

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." C. S. Lewis

"Courage is found in unlikely places." J. R. R. Tolkien