Efficiency Experts was the title initially given to change agents who increased industrial throughput. In The Lucy Show of the same title, the star, Lucy Carmichael, successfully begins her work as the company’s new consultant. That is until the pace takes over. Once the line moves faster she can no longer master the task. The manufacturing line hustles her into a commotion and she comedically falls and drops product in efforts to keep up. This ignites laughter and Lucy recovers in her typical deferential manner, admitting that the task was greater than she once conceived.
There are a few lessons in this. The obvious one is to keep up with the pace. Others include understanding that the efficiency task is not as easy as it might seem, to admit your mistakes before they cause your collapse and other lessons. One lesson that Lucy conveys is that change agents can always benefit from humor during the typical challenges of change work. Sometimes it hard to adapt to change. There is no end to human strengths but, also our foibles. A lighthearted spirit filled with amusement of one’s weaknesses alleviates stress.
Humor has its place. It is not always appropriate to verbalize the entertainment value of mistakes; self management requires a keen sense of the context. However, finding a sense of compassionate pleasure in the midst of difficult moments brightens circumstances. The balanced change agent has common sense. She accepts conditions as they are, helping others acknowledge them and temper challenges with a smile. Even more skillful is the ability change the conversation, to laugh at one’s self.
These are not natural skills for everyone, like other soft skills they can be developed. When you are able, take half an hour to review the Lucy Show and see where she had * change agent skills, * room for improvement, * the ability to humbly laugh at herself. This is not meant to lower expectations to the level of functioning demonstrated in this show. It is to reveal the truth that a genuine change expert has a sense of humor. Go ahead, laugh. Turn on your Lucy!