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“Magic is the only absolutely honest profession. A magician promises to deceive and does.” – Karl Germain

Genuine magic is, by definition, all about change management.

A magician places a red sponge ball in your face-up, open palm before he asks you to close it. He then waves his magic wand over your palm and asks you to open it. Voila!- the red ball has magically changed into green!

All change is about managing the transition from a current state of affairs to a -presumably better- new state of affairs. That being said, what primarily matters from the viewpoint of those affected is not content (red or green) but context (controllable magic show or chaotic metaphysical event).

This disruption, when not properly framed, can lead to discomfort or even chaos; think of an unsuspecting New Yorker witnessing the Statue of Liberty vanishing without realising she accidentally stepped onto David Copperfield’s rotating platform. Yet, when the magician clarifies, “It’s deception!”, the audience’s distress dissipates. The context transforms the experience from disturbing to delightful.

Similarly, change in organisations stirs unease, often triggering fears of the unknown and threatening our sense of stability and control.

Questions of content tend to penetrate the thin veil of context:

What will happen to my job? How will this change affect my routine? Will new responsibilities expose me to criticism? Will I be placed under a new, more tyrannical manager?

Just as magicians take time to proactively weave the veil of context to navigate their audience’s perceptions, leaders must adeptly formulate and proactively communicate the context of change (new opportunities, new markets, new horizons, a better future), not just the content (new tasks, new roles, new reporting lines, new KPIs, new software). By setting the stage and preparing their teams, leaders can turn apprehension into acceptance, even anticipation.

Managing change isn’t about eliminating fear but about framing the journey in a way that aligns with our need for understanding and control.

If magicians can master the art of context to manage perceptions, so can leaders when guiding through change. The key lies in honest, empathetic communication that sets the stage for transformation.

Your thoughts?


P.S.: Don’t miss Episode 22 of #marveltalks featuring Dimis Michaelides, where we dive into innovation, creativity, leadership and explore parallels between the world of magic and business. Subscribe and watch here.

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