Causing Good Trouble

Causing Good Trouble

Without struggle there is no progress

We live in a world of accelerating change, where the future is less and less an extrapolation of the past. Change is unrelenting, pitiless, and occasionally shocking. Welcome to the age of upheaval. In this maelstrom, the most important question for any organization to ask is: “Are we changing as fast as the economic landscape around us?” For most organizations, the answer is no. To be more innovative, adaptable, and inspiring, we need to build organizations that are resilient like the biosphere, the internet, or a vibrant city.

Time to reinvent. But how do you build responsive organizations that ventures boldly into the future? We are using our own methodology: causing good trouble. A design process, in which we have integrated the “double diamond” technique of design thinking, created to navigate through the uncertainty of change and turn problems into opportunities. Causing good trouble helps with researching and understanding problems, co-creating solutions and testing ideas. At every level, for every function, in every organization and industry, causing good trouble gives you the tools you need to become an innovative thinker and to start discovering creative opportunities.

The story behind

The concept of Causing good trouble was coined by legendary civil rights activist, campaigner, and Congressman John Lewis* (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020). As a boy in rural Alabama his mother warned him to be on his guard when going into the city. His mother prepared him for a hostile and segregated community. She would say, “Be careful, be watchful, be mindful and don’t get in trouble.” But once Lewis went to college in Nashville and became active in the civil rights movement, he began to see the power of trouble. “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something – and in the final analyses, that means you’re into some trouble, necessary trouble, good trouble.” Lewis’ phrase has become a battle cry. It’s about big ideas, hard-won tactics, and never-ending persistence. He taught us that when a person has transformative ideas, they must push those ideas until others get on board.


Five fundamental steps

If you want to surf the waves of change, you can’t keep doing what you’ve always done. Just take a deep breath and cause some good trouble. Following the five fundamental steps enables you to continuously bring idea(l)s to life!

#1 Stand up

To take on the world and win, you need to know what you are really fighting for. Ponder the value and meaning of what butters you most. Try to dump your assumptions, keep asking yourself questions, and continuously challenge your status quo. It is not yet about finding the solution, but the starting point of a completely unconstrained and open-minded search for the right perspective.

#2 Choose

Now it’s time to analyze and interpret all the information you have gathered and hold on the nerve to actually see it through. What are the underlying needs and wishes and where is the real pain? What is the rebellion that speaks your truth? With these insights you focus and (re)define the core of the problem and choose the principles, values, or idea(l)s that (that you stand for.

#3 Bend & Break

Whatever it is that you feel the need to change, you have to target it at its very foundations. This is the moment to become more ruthless. Go completely out of the box, bend & break the rules and existing conventions, and generate as many ideas as possible. Quantity over quality, no idea is too crazy.

#4 Rewrite

If you ‘re going to reinvent your future, it won’t be by doing what you’re told but by rewriting the codes that sparks your imagination. Bring back the focus and choose the solution that makes you proud. Make it tangible by means of a “prototype”, test it, and use the feedback to refine the solution that you’re excited to share.

#5 Evolve

Now forge ahead deliberately and champion your change with unwavering integrity. Monitor your surroundings, track your learnings and adjust your movements accordingly. Continually developing the article that makes you proud by responding to new challenging situations.

Change does not take place in comfort zones. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. We use causing good trouble to humanize work and to continuously improve the conditions we work in and the practices we work by. This is not about being anarchist for the sake of being anarchic. It is the kind of trouble that stimulates change and brings idea(l)s to life. Causing good trouble can be very daunting or uncomfortable, and that’s because it is. But only in this little chaos we find the best beginnings of new creations and opportunities.



A must-read book in relation to this blog: Be more Pirate by Sam Conniff Allende.