Join Bumblebee’s yourney through the Land of Change

‘What is the difference between an ostrich and a bumblebee?

Well, both should not be able to fly,

only the bumblebee does not adhere to this belief.’

No, this is not a silly joke, but the bumblebee flight myth. According to well-known and undisputed aerodynamic principles, the bumblebee would not be able to fly, because its wings are too small for its weight. Fortunately, he is stubborn and defies what we collectively think we know. He flies unsuspectingly and pollinates to his heart’s content. Until he stumbles upon the change landscape.

The curious bumblebee flies into the change landscape and looks in amazement at the chaos he finds there. Despite the setting of order and security, the realty he encounters is rampant disorder and despair. He wonders what this means for successfully organizing and changing. He searches the landscape for clues. Then his eye falls on a path further into the familiar change landscape riddled with conventional wisdom. He decides to follow it and investigate.

The path leads unexpectedly to the Wall of Incomprehension. The bumblebee crashes straight into the wall. Dismayed, he bounces back, felled by the bumblebee flight myth that denies his wonderous ability to fly. His natural gift does not fit the current model of thinking because noone has an explanation for his marvelous flying skills yet. Dumbfounded, he stares at the wall and tries to figure out why this flying is losing out.

The bumblebee decides to go on a journey of discovery. He seeks the answer to the question why his gift is misunderstood. In order to better understand the reigning misbelief in change, he puts on the glasses of conventional wisdom. Under his arm he tucks the change Bible with the contemporary writings on how to organize and change. He throws away the thought of a problem, because that thought is itself a problem. In good tradition with all the major breakthroughs, he asks himself a key question: how does change become second nature. Then he fills his backpack with keywords and mentally prepares himself for what is to come.

He checks whether flight conditions allow him to take off, because flying under harsh conditions can be deadly. During his preparations the bumblebee finds out something peculiar. The way events are presented in organizational change stories determines the credibility of both the story and the narrator, not the actual facts. In the right form, management stories automatically take on a life of their own and go viral despite being works of modelled fiction. They gain popularity with a wider audience, as long as managementmodels strike a nerve. The actual content seems to matter very little.

Fully prepared, the bumblebee is ready to travel through the well-known change landscape. At the signpost, he looks pensively at the directions he can take. The starting point in the change stories becomes clear to him. Curious, he looks in the direction of the unattainable change paradise. On that road he encountered the wall of incomprehension. That is why he now chooses the cobbled path to the Jungle of more of the Same. He first wants to know how people think about change in organizations.

Studying the map of the organizational change landscape, the bumblebee noticies the division into genres. He soon discovers that the map is not a true representation of actual working reality. Whole parts of the labour force are not on it and the apparent order of lineair change from A to Better seems highly questionable. Contemplatively, he looks at the unexplored part of the map, which in real life is much larger than indicated on the map. The one-sided management views of the map worries him. and makes him wonder why the map looks like this.

The bumblebee tries to find out the change plot. By opening Pandora’s box, he discovers that time and time again the plot has the twist of change agents jumping out with a management instrument, surprising the bumblebee. Once recovered, the change agent tries to convince him that his instrument can (re)shape any organization for the better. The bumblebee does not believe that because, according to him, change also requires the right actors and factors and not change being forced by one on the other.

The bumblebee continues his journey. He discovers that change stories are based on fixed characters. Leading roles are reserved for Organization, Instrument, Manager and Leader. But the Change Management Expert also plays a number of different roles. The expert is often presented as the creator and interpreter of a succesful change story, founder and user of the Management Instrument, and also the souffleur of Manager and Leader. In addition, he is the designer of the Organization. The bumblebee notices that Employees only fill the stage as extras and do not play any significant role while fundamental for change. He doesn’t understand any of this.

At the drawing table, the bumblebee finds the change characters puzzling together. They try to come up with the new direction of change called vision before letting others implement it. While trying to make the pieces fit, own ideas are put on the table to fit them into the bigger picture. The change instrument tries with force to fit that a piece which does not fit. But to no avail as the visionary leader’s puzzle piece is decisive. Since the whole is always complex and too large, bite-sized pieces are given to some of the employees. In despair, they look at each other wondering what to do with the breadcrumbs.

After observing the puzzling out of the future, the bumblebee finds itself in a blazzing storm of change concepts. Left and right, these fly around his ears. The enormous amount of jargon labels blow up a lot of dust and gives him more than enough food for thought. At the same time, the dust deprives him of comprehending the coherence, since he can no longer oversee the change. Undettered, he makes his way through the flying management concepts. It takes enormous effort to hold his own and not be blown away by abstract ideas. It seems as if the storm of concepts deliberately wants him to bite the dust.

Once recovered from the storm of change concepts, the bumblebee arrives at the sales square where change agents praise the proven effect of their conceptual inventions. Under thunderous applause, the latest instrument is displayed as the ultimate best-practice solution. Obviously, what is sold as true and working is only intended for management. That is why the employees are resolutely sent away. They meekly comply. Pensively, the bumblebee watches this spectacle and wonders if this really works.

The bumblebee reflects on what he has observed thusfar. He understands that change stories are based on the same fundamental principles. In a circle, a routinized path of thought is trodden again and again, causing it to become more deeply ingrained in the minds of management. What strikes him most is that no one seems to mind going around in circles. In fact, all players of the established order continue to play the same change game with each other. No wonder change doesn’t get off the ground. He ponders on how to break this ritual of failure.

The bumblebee realizes that with the glasses of conventional change, successfully changing organizations will not improve. To escape the habit of blindly following the beaten paths of modelling a fictional future to be implemented by others, he sees only one way out of this repetitive predicament. He must step through the hole in the Wall of Incomprehension to stop bad change habits that only yield more of the same failure. Arriving at the wall, he tosses away his obscuring contemporary glasses to be able to see clearly with his own eyes. Change only occurs when comitted individuals engage to construct comprehention while creating a new reality. Excited, he crawls through the hole in the wall. The onlooking management establishment only think him a fool.