A Change Is Gonna Come

Mark Hendy, has thrown down a gauntlet. I love a gauntlet: come and have a go if you think you're hard enough. Change people love that kind of a challenge. Mark's was - contribute to the #HRMixtape collaboration on Twitter by creating something HR themed that weaves in 5 pieces of music. 

If Change is my 9-5 jam, then music is my after-hours spirit animal. Actually, that's not true, my husband will tell you I 'do change' all the bloody time (joking that if he were blind I'd have killed him by now as I move the furniture about so often). Anyone who's worked with me for long enough will tell you if I could turn a working day into a scene from La La Land I would. So, here's my Change-HR-Music mash-up, on the songs that inspire my Change mission. I hope it resonates. 


At 5: "Manhattan" - Ella Fitzgerald. 

Manhattan was the location I chose for a workshop with the global programme team in my last in-house change role. Like Manhattan, our team was a melting-pot of skills, backgrounds and nationalities. IT, HR, Programme Management, Finance. French, Canadian, American, British, Swiss. Manhattan is living, breathing evidence of the beauty of diversity, and the magic that can happen when a group of people with wildly different stories join together to create a new one. Much like any good transformation journey. 

"Manhattan" is Ella's tongue-in-cheek tribute to the city. "The subway charms us so, when balmy breezes blow to and fro" is her way of saying "Who needs an island paradise? I have my own right here". This spirit of framing gritty reality in a positive and compassionate way is at the heart of change management. No, it's not Hawaii, but here's why you can get on board. Ella was a born change maker. 


At 4: "They Can't Take That Away From Me" - Frank Sinatra

Can you tell I'm a Jazz & Big Band lover? I went to a talk about the lessons business can learn from Jazz recently - the power of improv, the benefit of a culture where trial and error is championed, the magic that happens when a team is completely in tune with each other. All lessons that leaders delivering change could pay attention to.

"They Can't Take That Away From Me" is about acknowledging that all good things come to an end. We'll always have the memories, but it's OK that we're moving on. Or is it about change resistance? You tell me...


At 3: "Three Little Birds" - Bob Marley

This song has so much emotional loading for me. It was a favourite of a good friend of mine when she was having cancer treatment. Like her, it is elegant and timeless but with such a core of pure strength and skill that you don't even notice it. Three Little Birds is about hope, and remembering to be gentle. It's about the enduring nature of humanity and fragility and compassion. Three things that often get left by the wayside when businesses think about change, but are actually the heart of what good change 'management' is all about.


At 2: "Help Me Make It Through The Night" - Gladys Knight & The Pips

I don't care who's right or wrong
I don't try to understand
Let the devil take tomorrow
'Cause tonight I need a friend

Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrow's out of sight
And it's sad to be alone

Help me make it through the night

Isn't this just the heart of managing change? Anyone who has pulled an all-nighter the day before a digital transformation Go-Live knows what I'm saying here...


At 1: (My all-time personal change anthem) "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke

This is the ultimate for me. That string and percussion intro. Those rousing lyrics. It is so much an anthem of change and hope and endurance that Obama played it at his inauguration. 

This song is about the tenacity of change, the perseverance and grit that it takes to make change happen. The blind faith that is needed when the change you want seems so far off. 

It's also about change as a movement, not a top-down directive. The civil rights movement had leaders, sure, but it was about the power of the collective spirit. Each inspiring each other, each laying their own stone in a raging river to change the tide for good. 

Any business or human thinking about change can draw lessons from Sam and the great movements of our time. They are born of people, believing in something and doing their part. A collective. With grit, tenacity and perseverance. 

It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will