Don’t fear the zombies!

What type of movies best describe how people behave in modern organizations?

Zombie movies!

Can you picture it: their lifeless eyes, their tortured expressions, their slow and painful movements, and their moaning and groaning?  “Oooohhhh, only eight years, three months and six days until retirement. Oooohhhh!”

Imagine a typical scene from a zombie movie: a street lined with industrial buildings, one rundown building blends into the next, each covered with tattered, faded old signs, setting a glum, gray mood.  The street is filled with drab, soulless zombies staggering in all directions.  All appears hopeless.

This is the scene of the typical organization where driving people to change is the norm.  Where once these citizens of the organization may have been full of life, slowly the poison of driving people to change spread through their veins until it seems not a soul remains full-of-life, happy or joyful.  No one remembers how the infection spread and there’s no first zombie to blame for the infection (though regularly they try to find the “they” who poisoned them first). This sad existence might as well be all they’ve ever known.

Let’s inject some driving change into this organization.  How would it change our zombie movie scene?

Watch there, at the far end of the street. Did you see that first flash of color into our gray scene?

It’s a girl.  She’s coming closer, walking with her head held high, full of purpose.  She’s still a ways off, but even from here you can clearly see the smile on her face.  Is that a flower pinned into her hair? Yep, and from her right arm she’s cheerfully swinging a basket of daisies.  It’s hard to say, but she may even be whistling a happy tune.  She’s so spirited and alive, she’s almost glowing.

It looks as though our zombie scene has been invaded by a lost, but cheerful, extra from a musical set.  A zombie-meets-musical scene?  No, not Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.  This is even better!

Are you waving to her as she skips toward you?

What must the zombies think of our spirited new addition?  How utterly and completely out of place she seems.  Watch how a few zombies quickly pounce on her, herding her off to the edge of the street.  Clearly she doesn’t belong here.

Watch the scene unfold with me.  Watch her hand a daisy to any zombie that will take one.  Watch her smiling at everyone she meets, saying hello, calling them by their names, and encouraging them to be their best today.  Watch how, slowly at first, the zombies touched by her driving change spirit regain the color in their faces, the light in the eyes, and their own, beautiful smiles.  Soon the citizens pick up their heads, fix their gaze forward and start walking purposefully down the street.

Someday, perhaps we’ll look out on this scene, and all will be renewed. Someday, perhaps we’ll see a street lined with industrial buildings with newly painted facades adorned with clear, sparkling signs, setting a upbeat mood.  The street will be filled with smiling, joy-filled citizens walk purposefully up the street.   Though a few, faded zombies remain, all will appear hopeful.

What’s the point of all of this imagining?

Don’t fear the zombies in your organization!  They are just fellow citizens not yet revived from the ravages of being driven to change.  Once you know driving change is possible, they and their poison can never infect you.

Instead, be the joy you want to see in your organization. Smile and shine and drive change.

Why not try?

1 thought on “Don’t fear the zombies!”

  1. Didn’t you watch “The Walking Dead?” Zombies are not cool and they are to be avoided at all costs because they will eat you and make you a zombie too. I’m not sure they can be converted back to humans with acts of kindness and daisies… but maybe. I would add that you must choose your zombies carefully. Fresh zombies are probably easier to convert back.

    Also, do you remember the opening sequence of the movie “Joe vs the Volcano?” It’s an older movie with Tom Hanks, but the opening sequence shows workers coming to work… heads down, slow pace, obviously dreading their existence. A flower attempts to grow through the cracks in the pavement and a worker quickly squishes it like a disgusting bug.

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