It is unlikely that many folk will have heard of Will Sommers, or the important role that he played in the court of Henry the Eighth, but we can learn from that relationship when it comes to organisations in modern Britain.
We don’t need to tell you that change is common companion in the workplace today, you, like many others (us included) are knee deep in dealing with it on a daily basis.
You want to get the best from your employees, their work and the social capital that is derived from collaboration and learning is key to achieving that.
The Jester, as opposed to the fool; more characterised by the statement “somewhere a village is missing an idiot”, was a shrewd political player when it came to court intrigue, change and culture. Samuel Pepys in his famous diary stylises one such character as “The King’s fool and jester, with the power to mock and revile even the most prominent without penalty” (12 February 1668).
William Sommer was adept at influencing through entertainment, with satirical swipes and comical anecdotes that delighted and informed the audience as well as exposing their own need for change and learning.
The relationship between William and Henry owed nothing to deference and he could plainly say that which others would dare not utter, no elephants in the room when he was around.
In the courts of organisations today, some far greater and grander than the kingdoms of old, the jester is mostly absent.
The single most important time when a modern king or queen can gain from the type of discussion, satirical input and friendly banter that the Jester epitomises; is when they are in the social space of the learning environment.
As with the Jester, the best Learning and Development professionals are adept at the theatricality employed all those years ago to grease the engines of commerce, change, culture and politics.
When you chose to undertake learning, you will reap rewards if you ensure that the individual L&D professionals you contract with have the gravitas, wit, knowledge and experience to engage and reach the audience as only the best performers can.
After all, which are you most likely to enjoy, remember, learn from and share, a trip to the theatre or another death by PowerPoint?
We have the odd Jester or two at court.
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