Agitators, innovators and orchestrators - the roles you need to make social change happen


Great blog from friend of A/UK Andrew Curry, on the kinds of people you need out front if you want to do new and necessary projects in society. (He's riffing off this Stanford Social Innovation Review blog). 

They boil down to agitators, innovators and orchestrators - each necessary:

  • An agitator brings the grievances of specific individuals or groups to the forefront of public awareness.
  • An innovator creates an actionable solution to address these grievances.
  • And an orchestrator coordinates action across groups, organizations, and sectors to scale the proposed solution.

“Agitation without innovation means complaints without ways forward", say the Stanford authors, "and innovation without orchestration means ideas without impact.” (Andrew adds: "Large organisations are usually full of orchestrators, lighter on innovators, and go out of their way to persecute agitators".)

The Stanford authors conclude: 

Martin Luther King, Jr., noted that social change leaders facing formidable challenges need to strike a delicate balance: “Accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Hope requires a credible vision for how to move the needle from how the world is to how it should be. We can all contribute to moving the needle, be it as agitators, innovators, and/or orchestrators.

They provide a useful grid in the blog, where the core activist tasks of "communicating, organising and evaluating" are mapped over to each of the roles. 


We are delighted that Andrew Curry illustrates his blog with a picture of Heathrow protestors (defined as agitators, and copied above), of which one of our recent bloggers Ali Tamlit is a part. 

More here from Andrew and Stanford.