Thursday, June 14, 2007

The waters of change....

.....People are faced with an unhappy choice. They can try to preserve their traditional culture by putting up barriers against the outside world and trying to resist change. Or they can go with the flow, forget the past and melt into a bland generic culture where everything is the same and nothing has much depth. One way leads to isolation and hostility, the other to a nagging sense of loss. But there is another possibility. It is to carry what you have taken from the past on an open-ended journey, showing it off, throwing it open, making it a point of contact rather than a point of honour.....

The words above could have come from any of the culture change/organisational communication tomes written in the past few years, wise words about embracing change but being proud of our past. It's certainly the strategy I've seen played out across the raft of mergers, acquisitions, closures and re-engineerings I've been a part of over the last 18 years.

But, these great words of management wisdom are actually culled from the pages of the Riverdance souvenir programme.

Last night, for our 20th anniversary treat, Jac and I took the kids to one of Ireland's most significant exports of the past 20 years; a show so infused with a mix of energy and nostalgia for the 'oul sod' that anyone with even the smallest percentile of diaspora heritage would get a lump in their throat. For a few, that might be bile at the unashamed sentimentality of it all, but for me, it's a real sense of pride in a perfectly packaged show trading on the heritage of my family's home country.

I didn't expect to get a slice of management change speak with my ice cream - but isn't that what Riverdance is all about? In two hours, it distills the perfect cultural change programme through dance and traditional music - leaving the old, embracing the new, honouring the past and energised for a great future.

We had a great night out...........................and I must be far too deeply into this change communication stuff if I can really draw a parallel between a modern cultural phenomenon and organisational change!

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