For a few weeks now, I’ve been fixated on a post written by someone who I admire immensely and who I was indeed fortunate enough to meet in person last year. In one of his latest posts from the blog ‘Óptima Infinito’ he spoke about the concept of Trojans 2.0.

Until I met José Miguel Bolivar, I hadn’t heard this term applied to the corporate world but I have to admit that I have quickly incorporated it now into my thinking.

However, when we think about Troy or more specifically, of its people, the Trojans, and make a parallel to the corporate world, we are inclined to jump to easy yet unexamined conclusions.

Perhaps due to the legendary story of the Horse of Troy who appeared for the first time in the writings of Homer’s Odyssey relating the return of Ulysses to the island of Ïtaca, or because of the current adaptation of the term in computing language in which a Trojan is considered to be a virus aimed at damaging one’s computer system, the fact is that the term Trojan has gradually taken on a negative connotation.

 Whether we are talking about Homer’s Odyssey, or Trojans in our computer, the fact of the matter is that the term evokes concepts of infiltration, damage, harm, destruction…

Dismantling the myth of the Trojan

The purpose of this post isn’t to promote the idea of the Organzational Trojan, it is simply to give an outline of who the Trojans are, what they represent and to look at how they can be constructively utilized in our respective organizations and business environment. Your opinion of the reflection in this post will actually depend on whether you accept that the profile of the Trojan has always existed or not.

Do Organizational Trojans exist?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes. But Trojans don’t wear an identity badge or anything that describes who they are… Trojans are characterized by a set of behaviours, by a particular life style, a certain modus operandi….behaviours that can be observed at first glance… or perhaps not

 The ADN of the Trojan

 1. They are action oriented people. They are characterized by doing, by completing things, by their amazing capacity to always be ready for action. Excuses simply don’t exist for them in their world. Obstacles, barriers and bureaucracy are things to overcome or smash, but this doesn’t affect their propensity to act.

 2. Their work is driven by their convictions. Trojans tend to place ideals above results and they will not hesitate to work without stopping to achieve the results that are in line with their beliefs and convictions. Their orientation towards results is excellent but always guided by an unwavering conviction of their ideals.

 3. They are strategists. The traditional corporate environment and its ‘hostility’ in the form of bureaucracy and rigid structure have trained Trojans in the art of war. Trojans are strategists not kamikazes. They understand that to attain the type of business model that they are visioning requires them to adapt, to infiltrate, to appear to be just another cog the system. Trojans will adopt the most appropriate strategy in any given moment or circumstance. They will become an intra-entrepreneur, an entrepreneur or will even act as the court jester, molding and adapting themselves to how the company currently works indeed if this is the most suitable strategy required to achieve draw them closer to their objective.

 4. They are masters of social networking. They are highly skilled at building relationships. Their ability to establish relationships is chameleon-like. Trojans are able to adapt to any type of person. They will amend their conversation to fit in with the circles within which they move, but they will always have their objective and beliefs in the forefront of their mind. Trojans move fluently at any organizational level, they are the epitome of the perfect social animal.

 5. They are guided by ethics. Their attitude isn’t aggressive, it’s direct. Trojans are characterized by values such as transparency, honesty and sincerity. Professional Trojans don’t live in a political world. They always speak and behave in accordance with the aforementioned values. They are polite and elegant but won’t hesitate in being ‘politically incorrect’ if necessary.

 6. Their message is consistent. Trojans always relate a story that underscores all their conversations. They know that each conversation leads them closer to their objective and so consequently each conversation is coherent and consistent with their overall message.  They won’t defraud the corporate paradigm they wish to construct by changing their message. If their message doesn’t fit in a particular situation, their strategy will be to momentarily leave it out… but they will never renounce it. Regardless of who they are speaking to, the essence of their main message will always be present.

 7. Rational inconformity. Trojans naturally question the status quo. They resist accepting convention. Their inconformity doesn’t represent an act of irrational rebellion but a way of showing their interest in developing the framework and systems within which they operate. Their actions are constantly encouraging an improvement to the established order.

 8. They recognise each other. Trojans have the ability to identify other Trojans. They realize how important it is to align themselves with their equals. Consequently, in any organization irrespective of its size, location, business model sector Trojans will always be on the look out to establish ties with their counterparts. They know that their profile is not common, they are the exception. The war between warriors begins with them connecting with each other with a view to collaboration and executing the most appropriate strategy.

 9. An attitude of constant recycling. They understand that the more qualified they are, the more chance they have of becoming inordinately successful and they achieve this via a process of ongoing learning. They look for all kind of alternatives and ways to grow and develop by their own. They have assumed that change is the unique permanent variable and that their adaptation to it requires learning new concepts, ideas, processes, constant learning in the end…

 And finally, the tenth characteristic by which we are able to recognize a true Trojan is via the self image they have of themselves. On very few occasions do Trojans publicly introduce themselves or identify themselves as such, they don’t feel the need to, but if they had to do so, they would, it wouldn’t bother them.

In reality, they aren’t bothered that others consider them as Trojans, it’s not something they boast about, nor do they feel stigmatized; they’re not concerned whether people identify them as Trojans or not. They simply speak and act in accordance with the other nine characteristics and behaviours described above.

Their beliefs are placed above their position and they really don’t care that others label them as revolutionaries, freaky or subversive; quite simply they are aware that it is of utmost importance that current paradigms are questioned if they are to be improved  and developed and if companies are to achieve the changes that they believe are necessary.

It’s quite likely that you already thought of several names of people who could be possible Trojans, wondering if they belong to this species or not. Perhaps you’re also wondering if others over the years have even considered you yourself to be a Trojan, having worked and become close friends with some of them. If you are thinking this, don’t worry, you can consider yourself to be fortunate. Trojans are not a species to be imitated, (or perhaps they are…) but they are definitely a species to learn from.

The new economic environment towards which the majority of companies are currently being led, an environment of transformation and reform on a scale never seen before, actually provides the best breeding ground for a Trojan to act.

Trojans are change agents par excellence, catalysts and stirrers of restlessness, the only professional capable of unlearning with the purpose of then relearning whilst transforming themselves and evolving at the same time. They are a much needed species, essential for the turbulent times that our organizations are experiencing. Put a Trojan in your life and let him infect your company, its processes, its structures… award her the benefit of the doubt.  To take any other approach is futile as you will only end up accepting them anyway, however, you will have lost the opportunity to learn from them.