As a long time fan of Diana, Princess of Themyscira, it struck me in preparing for a talk at the Allegra Think Tank in June on the emerging capabilities of, that there was much we (the change management community) could learn from her.
These lessons come from two primary themes related to Wonder Woman’s own capabilities, ones that have stood the test of time, the 50s through to the 70s through to today. This post addresses the first theme – her personal qualities.
Courage, Integrity, and Truth
If we think of capabilities that future proof us a community, surely it is our commitment to these qualities.
Having to have the courage to have the uncomfortable conversations, to let the emperor know he has no clothes on,
As Wonder Woman says in the recent movie “If I don’t speak for them, who will”
Integrity speaks to me not of moral code, but of quality of the design of change. We simply must be protectors of integrity of what good change looks like. If the change is to fall apart owning to a sloppy business case, a poorly considered design, a careless disregard for those who will own and be impacted by the change, then the integrity of the solution is lost. And perhaps that is a direct result of a lack of courage, to speak up.
The final, truth – is to relentlessly pursue “truth” in our change communications. To disengage with spin, to position as honestly as we can. Research shows that people accept the truth and unpalatable truth much more readily than the positive and optimistic spin.
The thing that is most in our favour on this is the move to more agile ways of working. Far from being an excuse from poor delivery, the minimum viable product sets up stakeholder expectations – the truth is, this is the first in our iterations. You may not be as excited about this as future ones.
Of course to deliver the truth we often need courage, and we need to protect the integrity of what “viable” is!
Ancient goddesses and modern gurus.
Daryl Conner speaks of “High Impact Practitioners – and in defining them he offers the final point being they are defined by those who boldly bring view points / ideas / recommendation forward, at times even in the absence of support for doing so.
Indeed in a recent insights email he says “Many practitioners won’t confront clients with the truth that the shortcuts they want to take are not in their best interest. What looks like a quicker, less complicated route will not lead to realization success”
High impact practitioners demonstrate the courage to be explicit when client request run counter to what actually works.
He also says they must have the discipline to stand resolute in the face of pressure to concede.
I say, that with escalating change and disruption, these will be the values that maintain your ability to have high impact and not be discarded amongst a community of mediocrity.
The risks inherent
Working with Truth, Courage and Integrity is not without risk. There will be several in this room who will have stories to tell of where adhering to those values have brought them undone.
But again, I think we can look to themes of community here and protect our own. If we know of a practitioner who has come undone through committing to these values then look out for them. Introduce them to organisations and contact where there are value alignments. Boycott those organisations that penalise the change practitioner for being courageous , speaking truth and protecting the integrity.
My initial thoughts, next post – the other theme that Wonder Woman offers that provides insights into the future of change management practice.
If you want to skip ahead – here’s the full presentation.