The Question Matters


Posted in Change,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on November 11, 2009

Jenga!Do you remember this game?  The premise was simple.  After stacking blocks as high as you could build them, you and the other players took turns removing blocks from the stack.  As blocks were removed, the stack grew less and less steady.  Eventually, someone would pull the block that would cause the whole tower to collapse.  Once blocks began disappearing from the stack, it was inevitable that the tower would fall.  The only question was how long the weakened tower would stand.

Once the first block is removed from the tower–once change begins–there is no turning back.  The tower will fall.  The only question is how long those weakened walls will stand.  At this point, the change must be managed.  Attempts to thwart that change are a poor use of energy, and will often result in bitterness and opposition within the organization.  Attempts at thwarting change aren’t leadership.  They’re fear tactics.

Many blocks had been removed from the Berlin Wall prior to November 9, 1989.  President Gorbachev was promoting glasnost. The Soviet bloc was failing economically.  President Reagan had audaciously called for Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the wall.  Many of the brightest East German minds were defecting to other surrounding nations.

Following Gunter Schabowski’s inadvertent “immediate” opening of the Berlin Wall, East Germans living in East Berlin rushed to the wall, overwhelming the border police.  At first, the police asked again and again for passports.  Eventually, even that was futile.  The Berlin Wall had already begun to go the way of all Jenga towers.  The announcement was simply the block that fell the wall.


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