Every successful change starts with one or several pioneers and only very rarely with a rational order from above. Pioneers are people who bravely pursue an idea out of personal conviction, are able to deal with setbacks and subordinate their current sensitivity to a higher purpose. Fundamental transformation requires the swift creation of a small team, following the motto of MIT pioneer Otto Scharmer who said, “Five committed guys can change the world.”
Such a transformation team consisting of intrinsically motivated people, who are convinced of the change project’s purpose, serves as the driver and heart of a so-called ‘second operating system’ which especially change initiatives directed at cultural changes need. The second operating system is a force field required to get enough energy for the ‘new’ in addition to regular operations. Pioneers need to be strong enough to strongly oppose the powerful and the maintenance of the status quo. Convenience, uncertainty, time bottlenecks or loss of power are typical reasons that lead to the fading away of the intended changes. That is why it takes force-field people who voluntarily enroll in a movement with clear ambitions and guiding ideas.

Today, change processes increasingly follow the principles or social mechanisms of movements than the mechanical logic of controlled programs. Such a second operating system can only work, however, if it is permitted to operate by several powerful players on the board of directors or the executive level. Furthermore, it needs a good connection between those who maintain the current business (and currently make money) and those who, as pioneers, create the new (to make money in the future).


  1. Invite people to voluntarily participate in a change initiative or make it possible for volunteers to apply. When selecting your team, always pay attention to how big the flame for change really is or whether the applicants are only after looking good and collecting points for future career upgrades.
  2. Enable your pioneers to share experiences such as study trips or joint training. Provide rooms where the pioneers can independently set up their home base.
  3. Create situations in which business success is to be achieved in a short period of time, extensively communicated and in which no hierarchies are hindering quick, decisive action. Such situations are great habitats for change pioneers.