A Streetcar Named Desire

  • Article wrote on August 2010

As Elia Kazan is among my favourite classic movies directors, I couldn’t resist the temptation of letting myself inspired by the title of his best movie. A movie that by the way, in case you didn’t know had been nominated as being of national cultural significance and as a result it had been selected for conservation in the National Film Registry of the United States of America.

As nothing inspires me more than inserting art and entertainment in both life and business, especially while working or writing let’s enter the subject that I want to approach today: “Change: a streetcar named desire”. That’s the way I see the change process effects nowadays: at the stage of a desire more than an accomplishment with powerful, efficient and visible effects.

Change: the basic process of essential importance in the way of planning, managing and dealing with crisis. It’s the root process that is meant to keep people available, open and ready for whatever it’s about to come, to keep their reflexes sharp, their imagination vivid and their talent on a fertile soil.

In all situations the invariable answer to everything that goes wrong is: the human factor. The conclusion is: we must improve the change process. But why the process of change does not achieve its goals at its best potential? I think that’s the first question we must answer!

A company became similar with a boat that keeps swinging  because of its very conventional routines and procedures, over and over and over again until everybody from top to bottom get dizzy and sick, until people’s imagination gets blurry, their talent looses practice and their reflexes get weaker and weaker.

Crisis is the unconventional that hits this conventional boat. In order to survive people must approach the storm unconventionally, without delay in reactions, without panic and hesitation, at their highest potential and talent and always as an immaculate team. Crisis is that moment when people’s instincts and reflexes must be all at once, awaken. There is no room for hesitations and wondering. During planning, crisis is the moment when people must be very creative and proactive, they must oversee and innovate.

In order to control the human behaviour, companies over reacted when started putting people in tinny boxes and widen their horizons. Companies lose the game on their own card because each day that passes by, people lose interest more and more and the company pays invariably. A painfully waste of resources from both sides if you ask me.

In my opinion the major flow in the change process approach is that it’s somehow integrated as being a parallel new routine, as a special process during which people must participate in order to keep changing.  This approach is the one with the minimum impact possible, no matter how many workshops, presentations, events or other types of activities the companies are spending their money on.

When people participate to a parallel work activity they know instantly: I am now during my change process. As a result the impact is minimum and the resistance to change high. The extra activities must be the peak moments in my opinion, not the regular ones.

Key question: when do people start reacting?

Key answers:

1.When they are taken by surprise, when they less expect

2.When they are highly challenged

3.When  something attempts to their primary instincts

All these basic ingredients throw people on borderlines, on extremes. That is what change process instruments must do: throw them there. Because that’s what a crisis is and that’s what a crisis does.

Change ingredients must be inserted on a day to day basis, unconventionally and apparently at random, without notice in order to have a high positive impact. Not scheduled as planned activities so that people can expect them and oppose them naturally.

Change process efficiency directly affects crisis management efficiency.

Human nature is the most subtle and versatile natures of all. As a result any kind of programme that involves objectives regarding change must be the same: subtle, challenging, unpredictable and unexpected.  In a word: unconventional. Most people fear the unconventional because one of their basic fears is failing, especially when it comes to a decisional human factor.

Let’s review some meanings of the unconventional (source: Macmillan Dictionary):

1. Special : different from and usually better than what is normal or ordinary

2. Unique : very special, unusual, or good

3. Remarkable: unusual in a way that surprises or impresses you

4. Odd : unusual or unexpected in a way that attracts your interest or attention

5. Notable: unusual or interesting enough to be mentioned or noticed

6. Exotic : interesting or exciting because of being unusual or not familiar

People are very diverse: different levels of culture, education, knowledge.  The right programme must capture instantly the majority’s attention, people must talk and think and act regarding each step they follow inside the programme. Before, during and after each step. The right programme must give people “fever”.  Humans have a natural need and attraction for the unconventional and the programme must feed that need.

From my experience the best way to do that as a decisional factor is by following three key lines:

1. Don’t let people realize they participate to a programme

2. Give people a good script /story

3. Let them be the stars

It’s classic in movies! But unconventional in business!

We all have a strong basic need to live our dreams. We all are looking for that thing that can touch all our senses at once. We have a diversity of talents and aspirations and we feel frustrated if we keep losing time without approaching them. We blame work for that because it takes all our resources without giving us, in return, what we really need the most: emotions and real sensations.

So why not upgrade the recipe and start inserting key entertainment ingredients in business?  It can make wonders!

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