Bums, Bonnets, and Organisational Change

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Change |

Seeing through the eyes of the other

‘Dad, what are bums called in Canada?’

‘Well, usually bums or butts.’

‘Oh, but Paw Patrol is made in Canada so why did Marshall talk about a behind?’

‘Oh. Well, yes, behind is another word that sometimes gets used.’

‘Ok. Good night Dad.’

Not your regular bedtime conversation, but ‘what is X called in Canada’ is actually quite a common question in our house. While there are many similarities between Canada and Britain, there are lots of differences too. I love that the question is asked. That our kids believe the world is ‘seen’ or experienced differently in different places. And not only is this normal, but it doesn’t make the other person weird.

This posture, this approach could benefit us greatly in the world at large, but also in our organisations. And it is not just about different ethnic backgrounds or genders, but also different organisations and even teams within them. Organisational change involves empathy – seeing the organisation through the eyes and lives of the other. We often assume the other person or group views the world the same way we do. This rarely is true.

And yes, sometimes the differences are slight like bums and behinds so we can easily work it out. Other times the differences are stark like pants, bonnets, and so on.

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova


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