In 1995 I attended a TA conference in India and whilst I was there, I ran some workshops in Bangalore, Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Pune and Cochin (as they were then called), across groups as varied as the CEO’s from a group of engineering companies, the Federal Bank, the National Institute of Personnel Management, Kerala Management Association, Pune Rotary Club, a residential home for schizophrenics, and 80 counsellors who wanted to know more about NLP.
During one of those workshops, I asked the participant managers to explore the impact of change on their companies by having them imagine their organisation were an animal. They described the characteristics of the animal they choose and thought about what strengths it had that would be relevant. They also discussed the potential weaknesses. As I wrote afterwards (Hay, 1995a, 1995b):
This activity was a lot of fun and enlightening at the same time.
One organisation was an elephant - elephants often have to be poked with a stick and shouted at to get them moving. They then move very slowly but are powerful and difficult to stop. They have no predators to fear and perform a very useful function for society. Unfortunately they cannot see what is going at their own rear. Occasionally some turn into rogue elephants.
Another company was described as being like a horse. Horses like to run but may gallop around at random unless they have a competent rider. They also baulk at jumping obstacles unless the rider knows how to maintain direction. They may go too fast for comfort or even throw their rider off. This group of managers had an interesting exchange of opinions about who the rider of their particular horse was.
Another example was the snake. This organisation had the benefits of moving stealthily and having a very effective sting. It could also shed its skin and appear different. However, its very stealth was a potential problem as it could be stepped on (by the elephant?) or driven over without anyone being aware it was there in the grass. Also, its reputation made people wary of it when it was noticed, so that it had few friends.
Later, I extended that when I wrote a competence development workbook on strategic thinking and leadership (unpublished):
Choose a metaphor, such as pretending that your organization is an animal, a book, a movie, etc. Then write the scenario that will result from that – for example, if your organization were to be a giraffe (or a group of giraffes), you might imagine a scenario in which:
You might also produce different scenarios for different trends, and for different levels of impact. For example, if you think that a political change will affect your organization, write an account of life within the organization after that change has occurred. Then write an amended version that assumes the change is less severe, and another version that assumes it is even more severe than you imagined.
Produce yet more versions of the scenario, incorporating other trends as well. For instance, a scenario that assumes the political change, plus the need to introduce some form of new technology, together with social changes that alter the demographics of your workforce.
When you have produced several scenarios, consider the following:
Hay, Julie (1995a) The 4 C's of Working with Difference: Change, Culture, Conflict and Creativity Rapport No 29 Autumn 11-13
Hay, Julie (1995b) TA and NLP INTAD Newsletter 3:2 4-8
© 2018 Julie Hay
Julie is a fan of open access publishing so feel free to reproduce any of these blogs as long as you still attribute it to her.