Indulge me through a story. Protestant Elizabeth Tudor (1533-1603), the repudiated daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Bolena, succeeded her Catholic half-sister Mary to the throne in 1558. Her first years of reign are difficult. She refuses to marry, thus providing no heir to the throne, and, after surviving several attempts on her life by some advisors plotting to restore the catholic line and managing to neutralize internal and external enemies, goes on to become the 'Virgin Queen'. In the 1998 version of the movie I'd like to refer you to, a wonderful and intense Cate Blanchett plays the role of Elizabeth. Pakistani Shekhar Kapur directs the screenplay by British Michael Hirst. The movie is filled with intrigue, assassination plots, betrayals and the dance and song of court life. The point of view is the private life of Elizabeth. The role of Sir Francis Walsingham (played by Geoffrey Rush), the Machiavellian chief of police, prevails over Sir William Cecil (Richard Attenborough).
Blanchett's Elizabeth is a free-spirited woman who rules from the heart. She is not versed in the art of realpolitik. She has many suitors she ends up rejecting and her lover, Lord Robert Dudley, is not considered suitable.
After all the plotting and surviving are over, the story has a powerfully symbolic moment: Elizabeth becomes the 'Virgin Queen'. Blanchett is shown while she bids goodbye to her old self and takes on the new persona. The visual transformation shows us the woman as she cuts her beautiful locks to be replaced by a powdery wig, smears white make up on her face and dons the regal garb. This is how change is communicated in the story. Absolute power demands absolute loyalty is the movie's tagline.
This story chronicled the interior and public change of a person. Within many organizations change happens fairly slowly, incrementally. It may be because so much of the day-to-day conversation is around how what is done now compares to what has been done historically. People are hired for what they did in the past after being matched to a job description based upon what was needed up to that point. I completely buy into shaping a job to personal skills.
What happens after you have learned a great deal and outperformed in that job consistently? Sometimes you get a promotion. Sometimes you give yourself one elsewhere. I do not know how many of those defections are motivated by other factors, which I won't go into at this time. What I suspect is that part of that move was motivated by inability of the individual and the organization to communicate change effectively. For effective communication I mean it is received and retained/acted upon. In other words, a behavioral shift follows.
Think in terms of personal life. Isn't it easier to make a clean breast of things after a move? A radical change in personal circumstances? That's probably why in the United States we are the masters of reinvention: many of us are very mobile, forced or self-directed. It is much more work to communicate and demonstrate we have changed to our long time friends and neighbors; there is much more history. Is it easier to communicate internal change through visually obvious external change? For example someone who just dropped 30 pounds now looks very different, thus taking care of the demonstration piece in part, therefore must be different inside. Or maybe we drop out of sight for a while to reappear transformed.
What are your thoughts?