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Lessons from GoG

Posted on: August 12, 2014

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Last week, my son and I caught Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (GoG) on the big screen. I was more entertained than I thought I would be, so I wondered why.

I also peered though my lens as an educational technology consultant and examined my thoughts against what I facilitate at change management workshops.

There are five main heroes in the movie and the creators did a pretty good job explaining the backstories of four of them. This is quite a feat given that backstories sometimes slow the main story down.

But the individual stories, brief and spread out in the movie, only strengthened the connection with the fictitious characters. They not only seemed more real, you also understood why they did what they did.

In any change management, it is easy to lose sight of the change agents in favour of the change processes or products. One tenet I stand by is that the most important and difficult change involves people.

Products like programs will change with affordances of newer technologies. Processes will change to take advantage of those technologies. But people tend to hold these processes and products back.

For ICT-mediated change to be effective, each person must develop their own story of technology integration. This might involve a process they use that results in a product, or a product they use to create a process. People only start to write and tell their own stories when they buy in to the benefits of using technology and take ownership of both the problems and solutions.

The other concept I took away from GoG was how the Guardians abandoned their personal agendas to adopt a common mission. It was only when they focused on something larger than themselves that they started to support each other and fight a common enemy.

Sometimes that common mission, enemy, or goal is not obvious. It takes a leader, often one that emerges without a top-down vote from the pack, to inspire by example, articulate a group’s purpose, and show the way. Taking any one of those three ingredients out leaves you with change entropy.

Like a good movie, positive change can be designed. But instead of focusing on special effects or the budget, I say we start with a good storyline. When the going gets tough, we should return to the narrative because that is what people relate to. It is what brings people together so that they can tell their own stories. When those stories intertwine, you see the change happening.

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