The Script of Change

Theatre..

The life of an Actor is one of continual change. When the Actor is handed the script that defines their character in a theatrical play, they immediately immerse themselves into exploring their new role in a professional manner, as does all the acting cast. Initially, they may have some reservations or hesitancy on their newly assigned task, but they accept the challenge knowing that with time and practice they will eventually master what is required from them.

The Actor will also typically make extensive research into the profile of their designated role to ensure their performance in credible and consistent with the other performers in the play.

With time, the actors start to discard their own individual personality and begin to morph into the required behaviour that is required in order to ensure the required artistic success.

The parallels with that of an actor and an employee experiencing a corporate change management program are quite similar and many a business organization can learn a lot from the process.

The Script – In a corporate change management program the employees are typically provided with high-level objectives that they are then expected to deliver with a sense of urgency. (This is like handing the actor the script and then asking them to make a public performance with minimal time to prepare for their role. The result will undoubtedly not be optimum).

Role Practice – Employees are asked to modify their behaviour to be consistent with the required change management program. To many employees, this new behaviour may be quite challenging and inconsistent with their experience and skill set. (The actor needs time to practice and research their new role to make sure they get it right. They will make many mistakes prior to the actual performance, but these mistakes are opportunities to learn, modify and master their new role). Business management needs to provide employees with the skills required to deliver the change management program and to tolerate any learning mistakes made along the way.

The Props – Most corporate organizations use posters, videoconferences and other e-messaging techniques to try and support the change program. However, most are deemed to be superficial by employees and do not achieve the targeted result (In a theatrical play the stage is continually changed to support the actors and to create an atmosphere that embellishes the actors on the stage, and those observing off-stage in the audience). The corporate office provides a vast array of potential prop opportunities, some examples: why not move the CEO from their office to a desk out with the employees (a bit like having a military General out in the battlefield with their troops, rather than sending commands from the isolated HQ), move the employees to another external office which may have less of the corporate trimmings to signal the change in work environment and thought, or reposition work teams from their well established office position to other parts of the building (or into fragmented teams), etc, etc.

Have Auditions – many employees have been type cast into their existing roles based on their previous experience in those roles (An Actor auditions for a variety of different roles and is willing to explore new opportunities and characters). In a corporate change management program, employees need to be given a script that allows then to think differently and to utilise many of the skills that may have been hidden as they were only allowed to use some of their personality attributes that were consistent with their current role and job appraisal criteria. For a change management program to be successful, HR needs to allow employees to exhibit other creative and innovative flairs of skill that the organization may have actively suppressed (which may be one of the reasons why the business needs to now change!)

The theatrical play, together with the corporate change management program, will enjoy raptured applause and success when all the participants have been provided with the required time to practice, perfect their script, and have the appropriate props. The outcome will be a shout of “BRAVO” from the audience (and the business community)!

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9 Comments

  1. You’re a master of analogy Steven! I love how you use familiar concepts to express your ideas. Since my husband’s an actor, this analogy really got my attention too! I’m not in the corporate world at the moment, but I can always find a larger meaning in your ideas. Celeste 🙂

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    • Thanks Celeste for the feedback! I must admit, I sometimes feel I am also an actor, but instead of being on the stage, I’m in the corporate world, when you think about it, quite similar really! Cheers, Steve

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  2. yet another awesome business metaphor, Steven! Though I will play devil’s advocate (sort of) and say that I’ve gotta believe that the best fits for employee and employee are when minimum acting is required. I truly know little about corporate world as my only presence there is to help out on individual projects–I am never a part of the permanent framework. So I can’t back this up with anything, really, outside of life experience. If a person has to take on another personality role for a job, doesn’t that lessen the chances of success and increase that of burnout? Curious on your thoughts.

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    • Thanks Liz for the insightful feedback! In answering your question, you are absolutely correct, it is always best to have a person doing a role that they are best suited to performing. However, in a change management program, employees are often asked to undertake activities that they may not have the appropriate skills to do and may be well outside their comfort zone. This is where the actor comes into play where they have an opportunity to practice their lines in a supportive environment where they can learn to master their new role before they are let loose on their fellow employees. Your comments are always welcome….keep them coming! Cheers, Steve

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      • see, that’s why I need to be on board here–I don’t even know what Change Management is! Though that seems a good description for parenting and even life in general. Always a different role to play. Thank you for the education 🙂

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      • Liz, your ideas are always great, very insightful and make me think! They are brilliant. Your blog provides me with a rich recipe of thoughts, many of which I then cook a little bit further with my own “herbs and spices”. Cheers, Steve

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  3. Forest So Green

     /  November 12, 2013

    Sometimes it’s a comedy and sometimes not 🙂

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  4. Dry, Peter

     /  November 14, 2013

    Very, very smart

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  1. Role of the CEO in Change Management | Business and Finance

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