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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Coalition or Council: Which One Are You?

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CouncilI have been thinking about institutions that strive for change. Sometimes we call them communities or organizations, sometimes we call them alliances or parties. But whatever their nature, these institutions are usually led and managed by a small group of people.

I see two kinds of leading groups: coalitions and councils.

A temporary alliance of distinct parties, persons, or states for joint action

A group elected or appointed as an advisory or legislative body


A coalition is a self-selecting team. The persons seek each other out because they want to be active agents for change, and by working together they can be more successful in achieving a common goal. In his change management books John Kotter referred to them as guiding coalitions. They are not elected. They are not appointed. They select each other because they want to. And they can even work undercover, because their goal is to influence, not to govern.

The allied powers in World War II were a coalition. The Google founders were a coalition. The originators of the Stoos Network were a coalition.


A council is a group of representatives. These people also want to be active agents for change. But, their primary concern is to have buy-in from the larger group of people they are representing within the institute (community, organization, or party). The concept of democracy has led to many different versions of these councils. Sometimes we call them a government. Sometimes a committee. And everything has to be out in the open, because if it’s not, we call them cronies. Their goal is primarily to govern or advise the institute.

The United Nations has a council. My former students society had a council. And many workplaces have management teams acting as councils.

And you?

If you have a group of people who all desire change, do you lead with a coalition or with a council?

This is the big problem with some alliances and consortiums for change.

They have directors who try to be both. It is a recipe for disaster.

Maybe the best institutions have both: a coalition and a council.

(image from Veni Markovski)

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)