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)!

The Key to the Orchestra

Jan 3: Music manuscripts

As the conductor faces the orchestra, the most important item is the music manuscript which drives every musician on the stage. Each musician has a customized version of the master manuscript that is tailored to optimize their instruments output and to achieve a consistent and structured approach so the entire orchestra is unified.

This is a powerful business analogy:

1. The Music Manuscript
This is the strategy for the business and outlines the resources required, together with the timing needed to achieve the desired outcome. To write this manuscript, the composer needs a comprehensive appreciation of the instruments required to deliver the result, together with the expectations of the audience.

2. The Conductor
This is the CEO of the business who is in control of the total orchestral experience. A strong CEO motivates the players and keeps the orchestra on track. If necessary, the CEO will improvise and make changes to the manuscript based on the required needs of the audience or the experience and capability of the musicians.

3. The Musicians
Musicians are the functional departments within the business (eg Marketing, Sales, Manufacturing, Finance, HR, etc). Each function makes a different sound which is emphasized within the business when required. Some sounds are the backbone of the business (eg the string section = manufacturing), other sounds make a big impact to make a statement (eg the brass section = marketing).
If one musician is playing out of key or is not in rhythm with the orchestra, this is noticed and a correction is applied.

4. The Audience
The audience is the customer who pays to hear the orchestra play.

5. The Music Critics
These are the shareholders. A bad review can lead to the sacking of the CEO and a change in music manuscript for the musicians.

The primary key to the success of all those in the orchestra is the manuscript. Get this right and everything leads to harmony!