In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and company don’t get very far with the Wizard… until Toto pulls back that famous curtain and they find themselves face-to-face with the wizard (small “w”). It’s the man—not the slickly produced Wizard—who comes clean with the crew about how they’ve been asking for things that no one can deliver to them, and who then hands Scarecrow his diploma, the Tin Man his testimonial, and the Cowardly Lion his medal.
Turns out, the human wizard is more powerful–by far–than the slickly produced Wizard. He even says so himself: “…I’m a very good man… I’m just a very… poor… Wizard.”
There’s an important lesson here for businesses.
With the arrival of social media, the curtain has been pulled back on our brands—customers, prospects, and vendors can get straight past the slick branding to the people pulling the levers. And it’s important to note that the force pulling back the curtain, just like in the movie, is out of businesses’ control. Social media—like Toto—belongs to the people.
So, now what? Be like the wizard! Here’s how:
- Embrace the inevitable. When Toto flings back that curtain, the Wizard’s immediate and famous reaction is to bellow “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” About 4 seconds later, he gives up the ghost. In an organization, expect resistance to transparency as people realize that their way of doing business is changing—always a tough thing. Then, as quickly as possible, shift.
- Come clean. The wizard’s first order of business? Call his “clients” out for their bogus requests. Then he gets to what’s real—in 3 of the 4 cases, validation, and in the final trip, a balloon ride—and handles them. It’s all about truth after the initial reveal.
- Prepare for what’s next. The transition from Wizard to wizard triggers the wizard’s next adventure: taking Dorothy back home himself. (That’s the plan, at least.) I think it’s safe to assume that he’d been thinking about his next adventure for some time—either that, or he’s rather rash… or maybe brilliantly quick minded. Either way, he moves to his next adventure post haste!
- Trust the team. After assessing his city’s needs and available resources, he installs Scarecrow as the next Wizard, thus freeing himself to take the action he needs to take. For leaders today who worry about trusting their teams to represent their brands: if they’re not ready, get them ready fast… you’re going to need them if you’re to move forward yourself!
- Be good at your job. The reason that things don’t fall apart when the Wizard is uncovered is because the man behind the curtain is actually very good at his job. He’s been paying attention, and knows how to allay the concerns of his four supplicants. When work is about truth, excellence prevails. Be excellent.
- Move fast. The wizard doesn’t spend much time worrying about how the city will react to his unveiling. He focuses on forward motion, and moves fast enough that the inevitable “what if…” concerns—”what if they revolt?” “what if they don’t accept me?”— don’t have time to slow him down.
- Frame the change. The wizard’s transition is quick, but it’s still a managed process. He’s got the whole city out for his balloon launch! Being transparent doesn’t mean being sloppy: perspective still matters!
It’s a new day. Initial calls by business to ”Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” have been heeded… and abandoned. Now’s the time to step out from behind that curtain.
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.