Change Management in Organizations – Peacock & Swans: 3 Lessons to Take Home

Change Management in Organizations – Peacock & Swans: 3 Lessons to Take Home

Post 2008, world is not the same. There are business scenarios changing. Too many organizations want to change, for right reasons.

Here is a story I learnt in a leadership workshop a decade back. Unfortunately I do not remember who spoke. Credit to this unknown gentleman.

Here it goes:

It was a pond of swans. They were generally doing okay. No problems. But one day they felt that they need to change. They are too formal. Black and white.


They felt that they should be creative and innovative. They thought that they need to be colorful.

They pondered. They brain stormed. Finally a conclusion: Let us hire a peacock. Who else is more colorful? The peacock could train them to be colorful. In the end, they all change and be happier.

So they hired a colorful peacock. They were excited thinking about the future.



They made big announcement in the swan community about the agent of change.

The days of peacock begin in company of Swans. Both were excited about the shared future.

As days passed, the Swans were concerned. Very concerned. The problem was that the peacock was different. Very different. The way it looked, the way it behaved. What it ate. This way, it can not become one among them. Without being one among them, he can not win the trust and build relationship.

Most importantly, how do they measure the performance and compare his performance with Swans? There were very well proven Swans who wanted the job of being the change agent. The King of Swans should be able to compare the performance objectively against defined parameters and metrics.

One of the Swans was very friendly and kind. He went up to the peacock and explained. At first Peacock was surprised. But he found the merit in the logic.

He smiled and started putting serious effort to become one among the Swans. after all, that is going to be his future.

Swans were very happy. They were moved by his efforts. They knew that it is going to work out and their goals of change would be accomplished real soon.

After few days Peacock had made great progress. He was becoming comparable in several parameters. They set up a final review where everyone knew that he would pass the test. After that the change the Swans dreamed of, would begin. Their pond would be colorful.

The final review? Done.

Now the twist. After few days, Swans were worried. Everything was ok with the peacock. Especially the social skills and collaboration were excellent.

But the influencing skills were not good.

Biggest problem was that peacock was just like them. Nothing different he had to offer. Then, how can he help them to change?

Finally peacock was fired.

Lessons should be obvious:

1. If you are an experienced professional at middle management levels, just watch out what is expected. If it is to change the culture and do magic, then avoid such offer as much as possible.

2. If your organization is in a mess, do not expect a lateral hire to do miracles. Any magic would take time.

3. Get into organizations with similar culture, industry practices etc. Technology, Geography boundaries can be managed, but work culture needs to match.

You can not change the work culture from middle management role.

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