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Safe or Good? The Narnia School of Management

Safe or Good? The Narnia School of Management


Hi, I’m Glenn Harvey from Creative in Coaching
and this is the third in my series of short vlogs on developing
people and teams to make a positive impact – living and working
well together. Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I
shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs Beaver; “if there’s
anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees
knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what
Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course
he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” You may have heard of the ‘classical school
of management’, maybe the ‘behavioural school of management’,
or perhaps of theorists like Fayol and Taylor. But have
you considered that C.S. Lewis’s Mr Beaver has a contribution to make
to management theory, that we may have missed? You see, I
think Mr Beaver highlights a management principle that doesn’t
appear in any management books or theories, but a principle
that many of us have read and been familiar with since before
we were given our first pocket money, and yet we have somehow
missed, and put it away as something childish. In the extract above from ‘The Chronicles of
Narnia’, Susan, talking about the great lion, Aslan, asks the question
‘Is he quite safe?’ In context, it seems like a perfectly reasonable
question. Susan is naturally somewhat concerned, as meeting a
lion isn’t without risks. The response from Mr Beaver is somewhat
abrupt, ‘Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t
safe’, which is probably not what Susan was hoping to hear. Mr Beaver
isn’t coating this with honey; he is saying it how it is. What
is more compelling however than Mr Beaver’s failure to provide
Susan with the words she wanted to hear, is his next comment, the
words she needed to hear, ‘But he is good. He’s the King, I tell
you.’ So, Mr Beaver isn’t saying that safe is not a factor, but rather
there is another factor at play here that needs to be heard. This factor
puts Susan’s question on ‘safe’ into a different context,
and that factor is ‘good’. Good, in this context, trumps safe. In our lives, in our work places, there are
risks in making hard decisions, in constructively disagreeing with
people, in being innovative, in challenging the status quo.
These things aren’t necessarily safe in any setting, but what
if they are good, and we pass the possibilities by because we never
ask if they are good, or if our thinking has become so skewed we let
‘personally safe’ trump good to the detriment of all? Think about the challenges and opportunities
you are facing, the lions, those things that might make your knees
quake. ‘Is it safe?’ might be a good and appropriate question to
ask before you decide what to do, but never make that decision
before also asking ‘is it good’? Agree? Disagree? Have some experience to share
or questions to ask, please do comment below. If you found
this video helpful, please like and share. You can find out more
about me on creativeincoaching.com or follow me on Linkedin
and Facebook.

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