The "Volunteer Army" – Does It Really Work?


“It sounds great, but can a volunteer army really work?” Dr. John Kotter was asked this question several times during recent interviews about his new book, Accelerate. For an answer we decided to go straight to an authentic source – we interviewed Mercedes Adams, a program manager at NetApp, a company that’s been following the 8-Step Process for Leading Change for nearly three years.

KI: Many people doubt it works. Why do you think it does?

MA: I know. Outsiders can’t believe people volunteer to do more work, on nights and weekends, with no extra pay – and they’re excited to do it. If you haven’t been through it, it makes no sense.

Here’s why it works: We create an environment where people can expand beyond their day jobs and have a huge impact – even if it fails they had a safe environment to experiment. People want to join because they get to work on their own part of the business, get in front of their senior leadership, be part of a global team who are like-minded, and cement these relationships.

People really give of their free time for this. People bring their passion, and invest the time they want, and their outcomes have been tremendous.

KI: How do you get people urgent?

MA: The statement we communicated to get people urgent had four key elements: 1. Our customers and market are changing, 2. We’re uniquely positioned to win, 3. If we do these key things we’ll win and we’ll win big, 4. We’ll change the world, we’ll see it in our paychecks, and we’ll build a company we can be proud of the rest of our lives. These elements connect the head and heart so it becomes tangible to individuals – they can see how they can make a difference.

With the help of the volunteer army, this organization went from #5 to #2 in their market. We look forward to seeing what they’ll do going forward. Read their Client Story here. If you want to begin accelerating your corporate strategy by building a volunteer army within your organization, contact us.

Find out more about Tom Flicks Partnership with Kotter international.