The Better We Need is Usually Staring Us in the Face

Bee-Friendly Bus Stops!

Bee-Friendly Bus Stops!

I ran across this story the other day about how the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands has installed bee-friendly gardens ON TOP OF ALL OF ITS BUS STOPS. What a scathingly brilliant idea!! (quoting Hayley Mills from the movie The Trouble with Angels.) I also wondered whether the bees ever became a nuisance for the bus passengers. This concern didn’t last long as, and I don’t know about you, my attitude toward bees has changed in the last couple of years. Whereas once I feared and avoided them, these days I’m cheering them on, looking to see if they’re healthy and wondering if there is any way I could help them.

I suspect there are countless other simple but good ideas lurking in front of each of us begging to be spotted and implemented by curious humans wanting to be helpful. They are an overlooked category in the “transformation industry.” Good and simple ideas:

  • Are relatively easy to implement, effort and cost-wise.

  • Are not controversial; unlikely to engender strong opposition.

  • Represent just a small step forward, but…

  • Can have powerful secondary effects.

  • Are not always low-hanging fruit because their potential is often not immediately appreciated.

And yet often we find CHANGE AGENTS not even considering such small beer to focus instead on a honking big transformation effort—you know the kind with the big fancy titles such as OPERATION ATHENA or TALENT! AWAKEN or THE 22ND CENTURY PROTOCOL. (I just made those up so if there are actually some ongoing projects bearing those names then you have my sympathy!)

I’ve come to believe that grandiose transformation efforts are almost always ill-conceived and advised. When I was at CIA in the early aughts I was in charge of a transformation effort—content management systems were all the rage. My bosses kept wanting me to give it some kind of fancy name but I kept resisting, intuiting that the only thing a fancy name would do is make it easier for people to remember the project if it failed. You can say I was not brimming with confidence.

Particularly when you’re starting out on your journey as a Rebel at Work, a good and simple idea may be the best place to start.

  • Maybe you could organize an informal book club within your team.

  • Or commit yourself to providing colleagues with positive feedback at least once a week.

  • Or you could create a “task rabbit” type bulletin board in your workplace where colleagues can list tasks they need help with and volunteer to pitch in on those they can help on.

Or maybe you can plant a bee-friendly garden. Here’s how to do it!