Rebel of the Month

Khurshed Dehnugara

By Peter Van

As many of you know, my “night-job” is Corporate Rebels United, a movement to unite Corporate Rebels worldwide to ensure that true change happens virally from deep within the fabric of our organisations.

At the end of 2014, we had something to celebrate: without any marketing we stealthily became a flat army of 1,000+ corporate rebels! From San Francisco to New Zealand and everything in-between, and really cross-industry. We had a toast on that one!

Every month we would try to celebrate a Corporate Rebel who went the extra-mile: in helping our movement, in completing a hack, in pulling together a value practice, or doing something really awesome in the organisation they work for. “Rebel of the Month” is recognition for a Corporate Rebel exposing the sort of behaviours we would like to encourage in our movement.

Our first “Rebel of the Month” in 2015 is Khurshed Dehnugara from London.

Khurshed has had two careers, ten years as a senior executive for a complex, global corporate followed by fifteen years coaching and facilitating those leading them. He describes himself in both cases as having one foot inside and one foot outside the established system and culture. He describes that position as one of a Challenger – akin to our concept of being a corporate rebel.

His latest book “Flawed but Willing – Leading Large Organizations in the Age of Connection” has at its heart the premise that there is a different quality of leadership needed as our corporations move from an industrial age to one that is defined by connection. One that is defined by our flaws rather than our perfection, where power is a function of quality of contact rather than hierarchy. An age in which we are never able or expected to be in control and yet can generate more creativity and growth than the Industrial Age imagined was possible.

The writing is full of stories as the primary currency of contact, a voice more aligned with contemporary fiction than traditional business writing. It is playful and vulnerable, reflecting both his and his clients flaws as they do the hard work of being a rebel in a corporate culture that often wants to reject them. And at the same time there is an optimism; a persistence that comes from knowing it was never going to be easy and that overcoming repetitive defeats is part of our work.

Khurshed has a shout of for Corporate Rebels United on page 35 of his book, reproducing our Manifesto and linking it back to his table of the way organizations are integrating the new age into the old one.

Industrial Age Age of Connection
Machine metaphor Environment metaphor
Inherently stable Inherently unstable
Efficient dominant Adaptability dominant
Leader as controller Leader as wizard
Control through sign-off Control through self policing
Teacher as expert Community as expert
Architects Artists
Perfectionism Fast failure
Hierarchy Network
Fleas live off elephants Fleas can kill elephants
High growth, minimal fluctuation Low growth, maximum fluctuation
Relatively closed-off, defended from the outside world Highly permeable to the outside world
Rigid but mostly secure employment Voluntary, flexible, insecure employment
Leader as jerk. Can survive and thrive across whole career Leader as jerk. Gets exposed and rejected quickly
Self-interest Collective Interest
Khurshed is Partner at Relume Ltd. He is based in London.