It’s the story of wicked queens, poison apples, and talking mirrors. No, we’re not talking about Frozen – hasn’t everyone moved on from that yet? – we’re talking about Snow White, and the 7 Dwarfs: Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy and Sleepy.
Now cast your mind back to the story. The dwarfs return home from work one night to find the beautiful Snow White randomly asleep on their beds. They wake her up, the small talk is said, and they let her stay with them after discovering she’s a whizz at cooking and cleaning (we imagine a more modern Snow White might not have taken to this quite as well).
So, for a while, the dwarfs go about their daily work routines as usual while Snow White stays home, cooking and cleaning. But one day, Snow White has to leave, and it’s up to the dwarfs to do the chores. But the dwarfs have never had to cook or clean a lot before.
Doc and Happy take the news in their stride, eager to please their new princess friend. Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey are on the fence; they want to lend a hand, but they’re not sure how useful they’ll be. But Grumpy and Sleepy are downright disgusted by the idea – it’s not their job, so why should they do it? Surely grumbling and sleeping are much more important!
But nevertheless, the cooking and cleaning must be done, so Doc and Happy have a challenge: how do they motivate the others to help them out?
We wonder if you can see the parallels with your experiences of initiating a change? There’ll always be some people who’ll immediately catch on to and jump at something new (the Docs and Happys), some people who’ll sit on the fence (the Bashfuls, Sneezys and Dopeys), and some people who’ll simply resist it (the Grumpys and Sleepys).
It might make sense for Doc and Happy to focus first on motivating the biggest resisters, Grumpy and Sleepy. But what if they never caught on? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to concentrate on inspiring Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey to help out instead – after which, Grumpy and Sleepy might give in and follow suit?
In this light, might the key to inspiring total support for a change not lie with concentrating on the Bashfuls, Sneezys, and Dopeys – before the Grumpys and Sleepys?