Challenge, Culture, Commit — How to start a revolution

I watched a Ted Talk one day, and the speaker took on the task of explaining how a person can “Start a revolution”.


I found what he said to be rather fascinating — whether he was correct, or not. It began to make my mind wonder about the true mechanisms of a “Revolution”.

According to Webster’s dictionary, a Revolution is defined as:

A forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system

So with that as our starting point, here is what the speaker stated, as his belief, of the triggers of a Revolution. According to him, one must focus on these concepts:

  1. Challenge
  2. Culture
  3. Commit

The Challenge idea, refers to actually disrupting a convention, or an ideology — or at least attempting to disrupt it. Disruption can take on many forms, but I think the disruption has to be obvious. In the case of Uber, and the Taxi “industry” (I use that term loosely here), the disruption is very obvious. The difference between the way Uber, and the conventional Taxi dispatcher operates is similar, despite technology. However, being able to remove the “Taxi Dispatcher” is a disruption. Uber users probably don’t see the difference, but the disruption is there. Once one can disrupt a concept, in place with a new concept, the seed of a revolution is then planted. Think about an idea, or industry yourself; then, think of 1,000 ways to disrupt it — theoretically.

Culture means to actually build a culture around the the Disruption itself. Let’s examine Apple in this case. When the computer was a large machine that was only stored in company laboratories, there were certain people on this planet, who envisioned every household individual having a computer for themselves. I did not say that Apple was the only company who foresaw this, because that wasn’t the case. However, Apple did a hell of a job in building a Culture around that notion — more accurately, a Counter Culture. When one can build a culture around a disruption, that disruption now begins to take on a life of its own. If the revolutionary who began the culture were to die, then the Revolution can continue. This also enables the revolution to tap into a behavioral psychological effect, to which many individuals succumb. Here is a wonderful research literature¬†on “The Psychology of Crowd Dynamics”, by Stephen Reicher.

Finally, Commit, is very simple. Here, the speaker mentions that one must Commit to the culture, and the disruption itself. This allows the revolution to have an ongoing catalyst. Every revolution has had a figure head at its core. Even the “Occupy Movement” had a figure head. However, that figure head has been dead for 409 years. If you have never heard of Guy Fawkes before, then take a gander. Even if you have never heard of him, you have probably seen his face — popularized by the movie “V for Vendetta”. The bottom line is that every movement needs a catalyst. Having a catalyst, will probably make other people involved in the revolution want to be the catalyst themselves — thus introducing a network effect as well.



This is just food for thought. However, try to go throughout your day thinking of these three mechanisms.

Let your mind wonder, and let your mind wander

– Jovi