You have to get naked slowly, not take all your clothes off at once

A friend of mine was asked to write some copy for his company intranet, to raise the profile of his team. He worked in a website role in what he’d describe as a ‘big corporate’. The team had had some great successes but hadn’t shouted about it, and needed to gain a little internal credibility.

The approach he took was to inject some humour, some personality and shall we say “sparkle” into the article. It was very different to the normal language used within the company, but he thought, “Well, it shows that the team is innovative, that we’re real life people and that we are passionate about what we do”.

The response he got from his manager was not what he was expecting.

“It’s a bit too….. Different”.

My friend argued his point. He reiterated the need to chip away at the corporate ‘speak’ that had crept into everyone’s day to day language.

“You have to get naked slowly. You can’t take all your clothes off at once”, his manager said.

What she meant was, chipping away at, in this case, corporate speak, is fine, eventually you will get back to bare brick where you can start to build layers again. But you can’t expect to strip everything away too quickly because you’ll be too exposed, too soon.

This anecdote got me thinking. I figure that my friend’s boss makes a good point, but what happens when we all start thinking change is too much, or too different? Does it stifle creativity? And what are the consequences? A place that carries on doing as it’s always done, doesn’t improve, but big change can be scary. How do we find the balance?

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