I was coaching a client through some issues recently that they were having at work and in doing so I used a metaphor of a burning platform to explain a way to get real and lasting behaviour change.
Many managers have issues around getting their team to make the behaviour changes required for ongoing success and growth. Within this scenario there is good news and bad news.
What’s The Bad News?
The bad news is that you cannot change someone’s behaviour. That’s right, you read that correctly. You cannot change anyone else’s behaviour. That is down to them.
And The Good News?
You can influence their behaviour by communicating why they should change. We can do this by creating a sense of urgency. Even better if you can create a sense of panic!
So, this is where the burning platform metaphor comes in. You can use a bridge, or even a boat. The trick here is to create a scene whereby they have no choice but to jump off the platform/boat/bridge into the water that is 150ft below and freezing cold.
We change when we think that there is no other choice but to make the jump.
A great example of the use of this metaphor is when the CEO of Nokia told the press and therefore all the staff in Nokia worldwide, that Nokia was on a burning bridge, which is burning at both ends by the activities of Apple and Samsung. In effect he was saying: “ We’re doomed if we don’t change and we need to make the jump now or get burned.”
Although many criticised this, it is a classic move to initiate real and lasting change within Nokia by creating a sense of urgency. At the very least, if you are an employee of Nokia, you now knew that change was going to happen and it was going to happen soon, so get ready to jump!