The Madison Change Geek Experiment

by Serge Romero

If someone asked you to build a tribe, how would you do it? That’s the question I asked myself a couple years ago as I decided whether or not to leave the change management profession. It wasn’t that I wasn’t passionate about the work - well-managed strategy, people, process, and tech change is exciting and has a massive impact. I’m compulsively drawn to it (as many others in the profession are).

It was more that I felt the energy that came from other professional groups and wanted that. Those who know me, know that I have a special place in my heart for cyber security - the energy at DEFCON (massive cyber security conference) is contagious…they’ve built something special. Is it possible to build a Madison change tribe that is special and has that energy? What would it take? 

For the last 1.5 years over coffee, dinner, and drinks, a few of us passionate Madison organizational change professionals (“Change Geeks” if you will) wondered and explored. The hypothesis we came up with? To do this, the tribe would need to be structured around the following principles...

  1. Prioritize interactions > info dumps (already plenty of webinars out there)

  2. Be inclusive of all frameworks and approaches to change (there are many!!)

  3. Provide a platform for Change Geeks to share our abundance of knowledge (lots of smart and experienced change professionals in Madison, let's get this knowledge into more of the companies, non-profits, and start ups that make this community so great)

Ok, so hypothesis, check! Now all we needed to test it was a kickoff meetup, an innovative space, relaxed atmosphere, great sponsors, libations, 25 ready and willing Change Geeks, and a chic logo...

Logo, check.

Everything else, phew. All of this took a tremendous amount of work and I estimated about a 36% chance of folks showing up for this on a Tuesday night for 2 hours to kick things off. But show up they did.

In an effort to generate some mystique around the Madison Change Geek Tribe (that "you had to be there" magic) and also because I'm trying not to overthink the simple formula right now, I think I'll end this post with a whisper, "I think the experiment worked" (super hushed voice) and thank yous. See slides from the event here if you want a glimpse.

BIG thank you to...

  • All of you Change Geeks who showed up and proved that Madison can form a tribe of change practitioners that brings the energy and desire to "share the abundance" with each other and the rest of the community.

  • The core team of change agents who kicked this whole thing off! Rachel Breitbach, Tim Seifriz, Nick Lombardino, Jennifer Kloepping, Andrew Ravenscroft, Liz Stroud, and Nathan Bossow. Excited for round two!

  • Farwell for sponsoring the evening! During the event, I heard multiple people rave about the food, setup, and venue. If you haven't been to Industrious - just wow. Also, thanks to Dana Otto for showing us around the Zendesk offices - can't believe that space exists in Madison.

Cheers, excited for next time!

Serge Romero, Co-Organizer