On Trojan Mice

In Organizations don’t tweet, people do, Euan Semple talks about Trojan mice, an idea he got from Peter Fryer at trojanmice.com. These are small change initiatives, that do not require the coordinated effort of something like a Trojan horse:

Trojan mice, on the other hand, are small, well focused changes, which are introduced on an ongoing basis in an inconspicuous way. They are small enough to be understood and owned by all concerned but their effects can be far-reaching. Collectively a few Trojan mice will change more than one Trojan horse ever could.

There is an art to spotting a Trojan mouse — you need to develop a critically trained eye. Seeing things differently, and seeing different things, is a powerful experience. And once you do, you can set your Trojan mice free to create the results your business needs.

The idea is simple to grasp and perhaps easier than the Probe-Sense-Respond of the Cynefin framework regarding complexity.

Sometimes a better metaphor makes an idea easier to pass on. Here’s my image of how to use Trojan mice. Deploy several at a time, then observe what happens. Cajole and nudge them (as Euan advises) and then add or remove as needed. Many attempts will fail so there’s little use in reinforcing these. Then take another look at the entire field (company or ecosystem), and see where else you might deploy more mice. Repeat.

Send forth your mice!

Update —

Trojan Mice in 900 Seconds

12 Responses to “On Trojan Mice”

  1. Charles H. Green

    What a brilliant little concept! Perfect use of words to encapsulate a very powerful insight. I’d been struggling along with something vaguely close to it, calling it “the infectious disease model of change,” but this (while admittedly somewhat different) just way better.

  2. Andrew Bishop

    Love the concept, Harold!

    @charles – “infectious disease” isn’t the most catchy 🙂 name for a business model, but it does convey a different form of adoption to a trojan.

  3. Greg Waddell

    I love a great metaphor, especially when it really works and this one does. I often use an elaborated version of Galbraith’s Star model of the organization to help people see the various leverage points where they can make an adjustment that can have powerful repercussions but without attacking the problem head-on. I think your metaphor will help the little light turn on for them. Thanks

  4. Cynthia Silva Parker

    Love the metaphor, which is catching on with my colleagues. We’re thinking about what mice we can deploy.

  5. Algar Goredema-Braid

    yes a brilliant idea well articulated. I often refer to something like this as lighting little fires. Some will roar and light more/bigger fires – others may petter out. Thank you


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