Safety is the force within a container which forms the upper limit or ceiling for the transformation. It’s the threshold beyond which it becomes extremely hard- if not impossible- to instigate more changes.
The force of safety has got a lot to do with that most universal of human emotions- fear. When an individual team member experiences fear of change, it may prevent the activation of his or her life force and also blocks access to their personal vision. But when the fear is collective- shared by all the team members- it manifests as safety.
Every container has a circle of safety
Change agents who come into an organization or container should be wary of this force. The good news is it’s an extremely palpable force inside a container. You could sense when a team seems hesitant to go further along the line of changes that you are making. The trick is to push the team to come with you one more step, but at the same time ensuring that that particular step doesn’t turn out to be one too many.
Shrewd change agents often find ways to push the envelope of safety, and make the team feel more at ease with exploring more. More often than not, such change agents fall in the archetype of pioneer.
A cautionary tale of a container falling apart because its change agent rashly tried to lead it past the safety threshold is found in history.
217 BC was the year. June was the month.The place -the shore of Lake Trasimene in Italy. One could say the time and place were ripe for battle, for along those shores marched the army of the Carthaginian commander Hannibal Barca, led by the commander himself.
Hannibal’s marching army progressed as part of a war he was waging against Rome. To give Hannibal and his army a challenge, the commander of the Roman army, Gaius Flaminius Nepos was determined to bring the battle to Hannibal.
June 24. Morning. The dawn broke, perhaps with no hint of what was to come. But soon, Flaminius, who was giving chase to Hannibal finally reached the latter’s rear guard. In this scenario, Flaminius is the leader-the change agent who perhaps ennobled by over-confidence or zest to bring the enemy to his knees or both, disregarded completely the force of safety.
Instead of having his horsemen scout the surrounding wooded hills for enemy presence, Flaminus ordered his army to surge ahead and fight the enemy.
Like moving from one stage to another in life, change agents should push the safety threshold one careful step by another
It didn’t take long for Flaminius’ army to lose its formation. Hannibal’s soldiers who were hiding in the hills, capitalized on this opportunity and fled down towards the opposing army. Thunderous battle cries ensued, swords clashed with swords, bodies were broken and skulls shattered. Copious amounts of blood was shed in what turned out to be a non-contest for Flaminius’ army. Many historians call what happened a massacre than a battle. Half of Flaminius’ 30,000 men were killed. One third became the prisoners of the Carthaginian army, while just 5,000 to 6,000 made it out alive.
In any battle, scouting a flank is safety ceiling for an army. By entering into battle without doing that, Flaminis literally shattered the container.
Of course, in a modern organizational context, the team may simply resist to follow their leader beyond the safety threshold. After all, even the highest leaders in a civilian organization lack the king- authorized power of a Roman commander by which his followers would have to obey his command against their better judgement.
More likely scenario in a modern organization where the battles are commerce oriented and doesn’t involve the armed forces, is that the change agent who tries to push things beyond the safety limit would find him or herself being rejected by the team. So, you better make sure to keep the safety force in view as you make a steady progress with your team .
For change agents and leaders, not to benefit from meaningful events and gatherings is a missed opportunity! We invite you to indulge in some of the most transformational events from Temenos; designed with hard-earned understanding, organized just for you.
Temenos Vision Lab- Online ( June 29, 2018)
We invite you to this special gathering, which brings together a group of wonderful people who fill workplaces with joy and energy. By connecting with each other, you embark on a journey that leads to better clarity about the changes you seek, gain collaboration opportunities and leave with a concrete action plan.
Temenos Vision Lab- Amsterdam, Netherlands( Nov 2, 2018)
Another venue to take an exquisite inner journey, to find your true Vision.
Temenos Effect Gathering 2018- Bengaluru, India(Nov 22 to Nov 25, 2018)
An event dedicated to the idea of personal mastery, for nurturing your beautiful self, for change agents and leaders to become their true selves.
For more details, visit our website - https://www.visiontemenos.com/events