All in the family

Have you ever played the game Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon?

In the game one player names an actor.  The other player has to walk through a sequence of movies from the first actor to another then another to eventually reach a movie with Kevin Bacon in it.

Over at The Oracle of Bacon you can just type in the first actor’s name and have the shortest sequence between that actor and Kevin Bacon revealed to you.

I typed in Hayden Christensen (aka Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in the new Star Wars trilogy) and it told me that he was in New York, I Love You with Andy Garcia, who was in The Air I Breathe with Kevin Bacon.  I never would have guessed those connections.

Click over to The Oracle and type in a few of your favorite actors.   How many steps did it take to reach Kevin Bacon?

Now that we’re done with our fun, you are probably wondering, “How does The Oracle of Bacon relate to driving change?”

Thanks for asking.

When we driving change, we admit that we must know people enough to gain their willingness to go with us through our change.  I’ve found that a power-multiplier in gaining people’s willingness is in knowing how people relate to one another, both within and across organizations.  Hence the title of this post, “All in the family.”  You’ll benefit from knowing how the people you are dealing with fit together, what roles and responsibilities they have, and whether they live to those responsibilities or vary wildly from expectations.

Now that you know the value of the relational knowledge, a good trick when you are starting a change is to brainstorm who or what groups of people will be affected by your change.  Who will you have to partner with to reach your goal?

Next, draw a diagram of how those people relate.  Are they actually related (e.g., his brother is the head of accounting) or organizationally related (e.g., the director of marketing sits on the safety committee with the operations director)?  Can you use those connections to bring people into your change?

Next time your change is bogged down behind an obstacle and you are searching for any way over, under or around it, consider drawing out the relationships and looking for the shortest routes between you and the people you need to meet.   Chances are you’ll find a connection you’ve never thought about before and will be past that obstacle before you know it.

They are Kevin Bacon.

You are the actor.

Now act.

Why not try?

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