Scrooge vs. The Grinch

This sounds like a late round Celebrity Death Match battle, but it refers to a contrast drawn by Jonathan Becher in his “Manage by Walking Around” blog. He uses the stories as a parable of sustainable performance management. Becher’s fear is that Scrooge’s epiphany will be fleeting because he was scared straight by the “Ghost of Christmas Future,” which The Grinch had a literal change of heart after seeing the Hoo’s joy in the non-material glory of Christmas itself.

SNIP… Sustainable performance improvement requires a fundamental change in behavior or environment.

For fun, we can draw a comparison to the difference between Scrooge and the Grinch. In the both stories, the main character starts out hating Christmas and seemingly all people. Both end up as good guys but they get there in completely different ways. Scrooge is essentially scared straight by the Ghost of Christmas Future while the Grinch is overcome with emotion by the Hoos’ ability to focus on the spirit of the holiday rather than the material trappings. …SNIP

I like the point, with a couple of caveats:

  • Scrooge did get the opportunity to see Christmas Past and Present before getting his “moment of clarity.” Sometimes we need multiple and different stimuli to get a personality transformation sufficient to change our behavior. Change agents that use only one motivational approach or communications channel may not hit all of the audience’s hot buttons.
  • Follow-up and execution require different temperaments than leading the charge. Some change initiatives fails because the original leader gets distracted — probably because he or she is ready to tilt against a new windmill. The nitty gritty of monitoring and controlling the new processes is boring and unfulfilling (at least to the original leaders).

My experience is that sustaining change requires a succession approach similar to that of a start-up that needs to bring in professional management after growing to a certain stage. Most entrepreneurs and change agents will eventually need to yield to “minders and grinders” who relish the daily battle to maintain the transformation.  The trick is to ensure that these successors aren’t change “Scrooges” who have been sitting quietly, dreaming of the day they can get Bob Cratchit back to his desk.


One Response

  1. Great post! I find myself in this position often because I rotate from my position roughly every one to three years. It’s a hard thing to do to keep from leaning against the next windmill too quickly, especially if there are a lot of windmills. haha

    We just have to realize that we won’t necessarily get to changing and fixing everything, but we can prioritize and fix some things, hopefully making it better for the next leader.


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