If you want a Big Audience, say that Someone may Die.

When Harry Houdini made this remark, he was thinking about how jeopardy and drama are integral parts of human nature. Combine this, with our innate sense of curiosity and voyeurism (for observing peril) and you can indeed gather a very large crowd.

I could not help but think that when it comes to culture change, if you don’t tell employees the potential of what could happen, if we don’t change, disadvantages organisations.

I believe that human nature inclines us toward altruism, shared challenges, and collective problem-solving. In this sense, organisations that transparently communicate the potential consequences of resisting change foster trust and commitment amongst employees. It’s refreshing for employees when honesty prevails, laying the foundation for a shared commitment to a common cause.

I encourage you to embrace transparency and trust in your employees. Communicate the stark reality that, figuratively speaking, someone or something may “die” if change doesn’t occur. This stark analogy can serve as a wake-up call, highlighting the gravity of the situation – to all.

Ironically and sadly, culture can lead to death. We hear about stories in the health industry, for example, where a hospital culture, both directly and indirectly, facilitates patient deaths or where a toxic workplace culture enables and tolerates physical and sexual abuse leading to suicides. So, it is entirely possible, that your culture can lead to such jeopardy and tragedy.

Approach culture change with enthusiasm, emphasising the promising transformation it can bring. Simultaneously, acknowledge the potential dire consequences if the necessary changes are neglected. 

Presenting this dual perspective instils a sense of urgency and responsibility, compelling core stakeholders to actively engage in the change process.


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