And still I get lots of people who raise eyebrows, people who look at me with a conspiracy-like smile (‘you don’t really mean that, but it sounds big’), and people who would filter it all, going straight into their junk folder in the brain.
But I am not a politician, a Policy Guru from The X institution, or a professional philanthropist. I don’t command armies, or run a Footsie, or are invited to Davos. Or will make it to Mar-O-Lago, or will be given an OBE by Her Majesty, or will be called to mediate between warriors, or run a global NGO
And if you are reading this, chances are you fall into the same category. So how come?
When I was older I used to buy the story of the one thing at a time, the small change leads to big change, and the first change yourself logic.
I was told to be patient, which is the equivalent of explaining the merits of sprinting to a tortoise. I was told not to put the carts before the horses, but the advise always seemed to come so late that carts and horses had already left. I was told that those ambitions were only for the super heroes, the writers of Hollywood scripts or the visio-luminaires a la Steve Jobs, and, by the way, that category was very small.
But, now that I am younger, I don’t see the point of aiming low and achieving, versus aiming high and possibly failing (Michelangelo dixit) .
When you look around and see the truth and the lie being treated as equally moral; when you read the low employee engagement figures across countries and industries; when you see trust at its lowest (pick a concept of it, pick a country, pick a profession), what is there left that deserves ‘small change’?
‘We don’t do small change’, I put in some of the new company slides (more eyebrows raising). My company does not aim at incrementalism, yet that may be a very legitimate goal. We have painfully walked away from clients who did not understand that we did not want to sell our time, but share our expertise; that we were very asymmetrical with them in terms of P&L, but expected to be very symmetrical in collaboration.
If radical means to be back to roots, maybe we are.
And I know that we are not alone in this thinking. Far from it. That there are many, like you, who don’t want to do small change anymore; who seriously question the little tweak here and there, whether in HR policies or organizational development, or L&D.
We live in times of scale. Large scale behavioural and cultural change (Viral Change™ ) for example. Not small scale management team alignment, with zero implications for the rest of the organization.
“Changing the world’, for you and for me, may start with changing the rules of the game in the organization, the way people collaborate (for example from teams to peer to peer networks), the building of collective leadership. May be it is ‘a world at a time’ after all. Wait I minute? Did I?
When listening to the news, or looking at the twitter feed, I just have this urge to use the Michelangelo test all the time: ‘the greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark’.
Will we? Who else is there?
Michelle Obama’s line in the US elections, ‘when they go low, we go high’, was for me a Michelangelo-like moment, I confess. When we see all going lower and lower, whether in the politics of selfishness or the disrespect for truthfulness, or an increasing Homo Homini Lupus fabric of society, thiat ‘man-is-wolf-to-man’ world, I am left only with an option: higher and higher.
Change the world, I suppose.