Remember the game Red Rover?
Two lines of people form parallel to each other. One side calls out a name. “Red Rover, Red Rover please send (INSERT NAME) over”. That person runs to the other line trying to break the ties. If they break the chain they can bring someone back to their line. And the game goes on until one line disappears.
Guess what role a Change Management Consultant plays in the real life game of Red Rover?
More than one:
In the real life game there are two versions: one is being called over by the other team and the other is being thrown from your team to the other.
For the first they could be curious. They could be interested. They could be asking to participate, in a strange way (people can be strange, we get that part). They could have something to say (of course they do, who better to listen than the CM). In the real game with this first version you would do better to find the edge of the line and smoothly move around the barrier. (PS no one says you can’t do this in the actual game as long as you can run faster than the line adjusts).
For the second there may be some misunderstanding about change. You may have some “resistance fighters” in your team ranks. Before you go running off slamming into other lines you might want to educate your group a little. In the actual game I have seen players collude to try to recreate a busted line. Find the weak spot and slam into it as hard as you can. In the real life game that might help you get some extra resources, but you are likely to get repercussions after. In the real game maybe you head over there before being asked by either team to sprint and collide?
The Returning Rover
At the team level this makes us heroes.
In the interest of bigger pictures and end states that hero stuff is not good.
As the actual game goes on the two lines tend to turn into an amalgamation of the original lineup. The teams, after a while, look different than they did at the start. Some players have even gone out and come back at some point. In the real game the Change Practitioner should be going out and back a lot. At an organizational level it wouldn’t hurt to have them officially be members of both teams- or some sort of influencers of each.
Change practitioners can move things to the end state faster if they are not actually players in the game, but facilitate the playing.
While it might seem, with practitioner as Caller, like they are some higher level entity moving the pieces around the board this can be a good role.
In the actual game what is the goal? Get everyone in one line, or on one side (if you want to break linear thinking). In the real game what is the goal? To get everyone together (no not in a nice neat line- the desire for that is probably why you have the change person there in the first place).
So in the change game the practitioner helps call resources to strengthen one line, or to test the strength of this team, or the other team OR to break the pattern of one-person-at-a-time siege of other teams.
This is the best role to start with and maybe the best to stick with.
Taking any of the other roles requires expertise and finesse and will likely get in the way of bigger picture change. You will have to take those roles at some point, but waiting will help.
As a bystander you can watch how the game plays out.
How are resources used? How are they asked for? Are there tests and hidden rules involved in the exchange?
Is a silly game being played that has no purpose?