Hocus Pocus, Change

Strategy
26 October 2016

With Halloween just around the corner I couldn’t help but to post a Halloween themed blog. I was thinking through all the options. Perhaps we could talk about the perfect ingredients to a “witches brew” (metaphor for a change plan), or how to create your new favorite costume (metaphor for creating a vision for change). Instead, I am going to pull from one of my favorite Halloween movies, Hocus Pocus. In case you missed it, here is a summary of the movie plot, according to imdb.com:

“After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and their new friend, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches' book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.”

Image result for hocus pocus

What does Hocus Pocus have to do with Change Enablement? Besides the obvious connection to Halloween, here are some interesting metaphors to consider:

· Listen to those who do the work. Despite receiving warnings, Max brought the Sanderson Sisters back from the dead by lighting the black candle. Why is this important? Sometimes when we are working on a project we hear about issues, and still choose to ignore them. In the end, these warnings always find their way to terrorize the project, just like the Sanderson Sister in the town of Salem, Mass. I always recommend hitting issues right out of the gate. The best way to uncover issues is to speak with various stakeholder groups and employees. The more you become educated, the better equipped you are to solve the problem. Maybe if Max avoided the museum all together due to the information he had, the Sanderson Sisters wouldn’t have escaped. Or, if he read up on how to put the sisters back into hibernation their terror of Salem would have been limited. The more you focus on listening to understand, the more you can mitigate risks and quickly solve issues, just like in the movie.

· Heroes can emerge from around every corner. In Hocus Pocus, you see characters emerging to help Max, Dani and Allison to battle the Sanderson Sisters. Without the help of heroes, there is no way Max, Dani or Allison would have been successful at defeating their evil powers. And just like in the movie, your project is going to need some heroes. Some will be unexpected and some you can seek out. Find heroes through conversations, strategic planning and listening to employees who raise their hand. The more heroes you allow into the project, the better.

· Keep fighting, even when the odds may be stacked against you. No matter what, in Hocus Pocus Max, Dani and Allison kept pushing to make people of aware of the dangers and get the Sanderson Sisters back to the dead. They failed at strategies, and almost gave up a few times, but in the end they prevailed. This is also important in your project. You will hit obstacles and feel like you want to quit. Don’t give up. The more you push, learn and keep going the more likely you are to succeed. The reward at the end is worth the hardships.

· Every problem has a solve. In Hocus Pocus we see a lot of problem solving. Problem solving from the Sanderson Sisters all the way through our heroes. We witnessed parents not listening to their children, police offers not being supportive Salem citizens, people being able to stay awake throughout the night, and our heroes not understanding how to battle the Sanderson Sisters who emerged from the dead. No matter what the obstacle, our characters found a way out. Your project is going to come up with issues. More often than not, these issues will pop up on a regular basis. Use the tools you have to find the solutions. Ask others for help and keep working the problem until you find a way out.

I hope a little Halloween fun helped bring some new thoughts and conversation to your project. Also, if you have not seen Hocus Pocus, it’s a great film for this time of year. Have a Happy Halloween!

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