A Story About Change Management

Posted By on November 20th

In a recent TED Talk, Dr. Ernesto Sirolli gives the advice, “If you want to help someone, shut up and listen.”

He gives this advice in a story about change management.

Sirolli is a pioneer in the area of Enterprise Facilitation, a unique economic development approach based on harnessing the passion, determination, intelligence, and resourcefulness of the local people.

Sirolli tells about going with a group in the 70s to Africa to help the local communities grow food. Sirolli’s group came with seeds to grow Italian tomatoes and zucchini. Surprisingly, the local people were not interested in learning to grow food. Sirolli’s group had to pay the locals just to develop some interest.

Change Management

Sirolli says, “And we were amazed that the local people, in such a fertile valley, would not have any agriculture. But instead of asking them how come they were not growing anything, we simply said, ‘Thank God we’re here. Just in the nick of time to save the Zambian people from starvation.’”

Sirolli couldn’t believe how beautiful and large the tomatoes grew. His group proudly pointed out to the Zambian people how easy it was to grow the food.

Then, overnight, 200 hippopotamuses came out and ate all the food.

Sirolli goes on:

“And we said to the Zambians, ‘My God, the hippos!’

And the Zambians said, ‘Yes, that’s why we have no agriculture here.’

‘Why didn’t you tell us?’

‘You never asked.’”

Do you need help mastering the skill of listening? Would you like to learn more about change management? Call me toll free at (877) 687-1392 or locally at (239) 210-7516. Your initial consultation is free!


About the author

Keith Grossman helps individuals and businesses negotiate and manage conflict more comfortably. Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an educator. Keith frequently lectures and facilitates training programs, works with individuals one-on-one, and writes articles on conflict management and negotiation topics. His e-workbooks, “What Is A Peace Chest?” and “How Do You Build A Peace Chest?“ are now available on Kindle.


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