Change is an illusion. Close up magic, when performed with a high degree of skill and dexterity, has the power to amaze, to take your breath away. And yet, underlying the performance are a set of simple, timeless, elegant principles which tap into our most fundamental human processes and can be assembled by skilled magicians into an infinite repertoire.
And no sooner have the audience uttered their “oohs” and “aahs” of wonder, the question on their lips is, “how did you do it?”
Great magic is based on a simple premise – that people only notice what they notice. Magicians use this to divert attention away from the secret pocket or palmed card. You can use this to effect change that is an elegant evolution of what works best in your organisation. By focussing your attention on “change”, you are drawing people’s attention to it and giving them something to worry about. By focussing your attention on results, outcomes and continuity, you allow change to go unnoticed.
Of course, there’s more to it than this – Change Magic is also about effecting elegant, systemic change. Complex systems, including companies and people, have many interdependent parts. When problems occur, the cause is often in a different part to the effect. The effects, or symptoms, are often visible across the system, giving the impression that there are many problems. In fact, there is often just one single part of a system that needs a little drop of oil.
Change isn’t something you do — it’s something you notice after it has happened. As a Change Magician, you will leam how to put change where it belongs — in the past. Change is just what you perceive when you notice a difference in your sensory perception over time. You look at something, then you look at it again an hour later. If it’s different, it has changed. This means that people tend to notice some differences and not others.
Some things change and others stay the same. In fact, everything changes and everything stays the same, depending on what you notice. This has a very important consequence for that corporate habit known as change management, and well talk about it later.
Change is a perception, not a process. We can look back at a period of history and call it the Industrial Revolution, but did people at the time call it that? We are in the midst of a revolution now, as society shakes off the bonds of industry and moves towards a more people centred way of building companies and business processes.
We don’t know what to call it, because we don’t know what age it will lead us into. As hard as the futurologists and science fiction writers try, their predictions of the future are always constrained by the past.
One of the most important things about change is that people — and therefore companies — make it much bigger and louder than it needs to be. They make something out of nothing.
When Change Magic happens, you must be prepared for people to notice…nothing at all. There may be no elaborate project names, no logos on mugs, no ticker tape parades and no thanks. As a Change Magician, you will just perform your magic and move quietly on.
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