Albana Vrioni @ TEDx Tirana // Change crowdsourcing — beyond an illusion

Transcript of the Tedx talk: Change Crowdsourcing – beyond and illusion.

Miredita te gjitheve – Hello everybody,

I’m overjoyed to be here, with you today, and share my thoughts on a significant shift in how we manage change.

Being a change practitioner, I’ve started my change management experience with the student movement, here in Tirana in 1990, and have had the opportunity throughout my career to accompany individuals, teams, organisations and senior executives realize substantial change. The hot spot of every change undertaking is – creating engagement, instilling commitment. Change crowdsourcing improves this!

Let me illustrate:

Imagine for a while you are the mayor of the city – a city with high traffic pollution, which influences the life and business quality of the city. Your vision, as a mayor, is to make the city a “green city”.

To change the situation, you pursue 2 methods (associate with 1 slide – visualize 2 methods)

Plan A)

  • You believe experts exist for a reason and you can rely on them to. You put together a team of experts to design the solution and prepare an action plan. They communicate your plan to all those concerned and launch the activities.

Plan B)

  • You are really open to listen to all those that have a stake in making the city green, and believe the best ideas, the best solutions are with the people. Using social technologies you engage diverse stakeholders in co-creating the solutions; you are present, you give feedback, you challenge, you push for well build suggestions and you make the process of selecting the best idea transparent. Supported by a change management team, you then consolidate suggestions into a solution design and an action plan. You communicate the way forward to the participants and keep them involved throughout implementation.

All the rest being the same, which way of proceeding do you believe will lead to faster adoption and wider impact:  A, results of expert work or plan B, result of people involvement?

(Audience is  invited to to respond)

Raise your hand if A – Raise your hand if B.

Most of you are for the B – very well, because this is the way the society is heading to.

The phenomenon described is called change crowdsourcing – and it is about co-creating the future – a change strategy that stimulates engagement, that inspires commitment and leads to actions.

Its power centres on creating the climate and the capabilities necessary to lead and realize viral change.

Co-creation – Viral change – profound impact – this is almost illusionary !!

I’m here to share with you what takes this phenomenon beyond an illusion.

What would make you as the mayor of the city to try this approach?

Basically: you want to make change happen! And you want to be leading it!

With 70% of change initiatives failing – if you want to achieve something you have never achieved, you need to do something you have never done, right?! – The outburst of social technologies and the entering into a workforce of a generation that has the digital in their DNA, create immense opportunities for giving change a better chance.

Where are the benefits of Change Crowdsourcing?

Benefit #1: Engagement & commitment

The first benefit is creating involvement and commitment.

Let us revert to our green city project.

Tell your citizens to use bikes instead of cars for within-city transport – and they will revolt! Of course they may not be able to invest in bikes, car dealers will not be happy and bikers safety on the road is not assured either. But, involve them into designing the solutions on how to reduce traffic, and not only you will be benefiting from innovative solutions, but, most importantly, the likelihood of their adoption is much higher – because the solution has the footprints of all those concerned.

Benefit #2: Speed, Size, Proficiency

When volunteering individuals, from all sort of backgrounds, participate with ideas on how to make the city green, not only you get the best ideas ever, but you build awareness and desire for change, you allow the growth of a “burning platform” that is not motivated by fear of failure, that is not impregnated by criticism and finger pointing but rather of looking ahead to the future, of working towards a commonly embraced vision. This increases speed and outreach of change.

What happens when we participate? – we share knowledge and learn new skills, and above all we are much more prone to commit, to internalize and adopt the new solutions. This increases proficiency.

And this is all what successful change is about!!

This is the 2nd visible benefit of change crowdsourcing.

Benefit #3: Creating jobs and growth

The 3rd important benefit is related to its contribution in creating jobs and growth.

7-8 years ago, when my team gathered to pay innovation games, I thought they did this because they were young. It didn’t take long to realize that the 300% of business growth we had was in good part due to the collaborative spirit of an innovative team that learned to think out of the box.

Crowdsourcing change learns us as change leaders to operate out of the box and provides us with ideas that can create new areas of activity – and next to it – it allows us as participants to acquire new capabilities, market our skills better and increase their value in the job market.

Towards a collaborative society

And the 4th benefit is related to the creation of a collaborative society. Our competitive system is reaching its limits. Competitive mindset is depleting our natural, human and spiritual resources. The shift to co-creation is as much a call of survival as it is a gain of awareness that no one single organization can be long term successful working “at the expense of the other”. The “Co-created” solutions are the offspring of collaborative minds and processes., starting small and growing bigger, the more they are used the more they will reinforce the collaborative culture we are evolving towards.


Engagement, viral adoption, jobs & growth, collaborative culture – These benefits are substantial!!

What are the pitfalls to watch out for?

Whether we decide to go or not for change crowdsourcing we need to watch out for at least 3 pitfalls:

Pitfall #1: Not only good ideas

We know that “Not every good idea is a good idea”. Detecting early in the process ideas that are disruptive to co-creating a better future and handling them in a respectful and transparent way, requires a serious upgrade of change leadership skills.

Pitfall #2: Substitute for effective communication

The 2rd pitfall is relying on the illusion that “social technology” can substitute for effective communication and human interaction.

Co-creating requires trust, which is only build though effective communication and interaction at the human level.

Pitfall #3: Do nothing – things will fall into places

This leads us to the 3rd pitfall: as it may be difficult to have the right change leadership skillset to start, we may thing it is safer to “do nothing”. But, can we?

Your “green city” change movement can be initiated by any valid business organization, institution or change leader. The irony is that we can not control the burst of the “burning platform”, which may be constructive or disruptive. The only question is: do we as change leaders want to be in a firefighting mode or do we want to orient the “burning platforms” towards building the future? Which one would you chose – Firefighting or Building the future?

Currently, 75% of our workforce is over 40years old, permissive to command and control, mostly workaholics and married to their jobs, and 25% is Gen Y, differently known as “job hopers”, future oriented and totally dismissive to authority. If we think about it – What are our chances to integrate and exploit this new generation talent? What are our chances to nurture the new generation leaders that will bring our organizations and institutions to the next level?  Between 1 and 0 what would you chose? 0 – exactly

“Do nothing” is a no-no strategy at a time when we need to assure jobs and growth, and avoid social and economic distress.

What are the Challenges to overcome?

So how to make sure we can get the benefits and avoid the pitfalls?

For this, I believe we weed to address 2 main challenges.

1.     Co-creative leadership

The first challenge is to embrace the shift from narrow, directive leadership with a focus on telling to a wider sponsored change leadership with a focus on co-creation. This is a systemic shift that addresses above all our beliefs on how sustainable value is created.

This shift will require from organizations rethinking their value chain, and transforming their structures, processes, and cultures – to become more open and less-hierarchical and to create a culture of trust.

When this trust is established – the participation in change becomes constructive.

Focus is on the future, creativity blossoms and commitment happens naturally.

When we believe in our people our communication is genuine and allows to build mass dialogue. Allowing for mass dialogue in change is like the car seatbelt – having it on can make the difference between life and death.

Is this shift under our control? Food for thought.

2.     Social Technology:

The second challenge stays with the technology: Their purposeful evolution and their responsible adoption.

Responsible adoption – so that aspects of data integrity and process transparency are assured

Addressing this means ..

Purposeful evolution – so that social technology can bring people closer and enable a higher gear of learning – these will take change at a different level.

Providing an appealing mix between “digital – social – connectedness”, Social Technologies are perfectly placed to build the bridge between the competitive mindset and the co-created change.


Ladies and gentlemen’s, in conclusion, let’s give CHANGE a better chance.

In our world of high pressure for transparency, intense sense of connectedness and ever increasing digitalization, change crowdsourcing can realize viral change at the benefit of the society.

Social technologies are creating new horizons, but their purposeful adoption calls for a leadership style that is more inclusive, nurturing and collaborative.

Ultimately, the power of change crowdsourcing centres on the full and enthusiastic participation of volunteering employees or citizens, who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected and serve to a better world.

Creating these conditions will be the main challenge in taking change crowdsourcing beyond a mere illusion.

We all have a role to play!

Thank you all!

Faleminderit te gjitheve!