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The Ten Commandments for Gamechangers

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It is one thing to take the Jews out of Egypt.
It is quite another to take Egypt out of the Jews.
—Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotsk
(the Kotsker Rebbe, 1787-1859)

When we set out to change the game— be it strategic change, innovation, transformation or even revolution—we might be tempted by the latest change theories.

Since the 1950s, change models have come and gone. Unfreezing/refreezing, change agents, garbage in/garbage out, culture, humanware, re-engineering, population ecology, adaptive learning.., and the list goes on.

But the rules have changed. Under globalization, flattening organizations and the Internet, many change methods have proven obsolete in a dynamic world of uncertainty and black swans.

Counter-intuitive as it sounds, we can learn from an age-old story of transformation: the exodus from Egypt, 40 years in the wilderness, and the quest for the Promised Land.

The story goes that God searched for whom to give the Ten Commandments to. One nation asked: “What does it say?” God said, “No adultery.” They shrugged, “That’s a bit steep.” The next asked, “What’s written here?” God said, “Do not steal.” They said, “Fuhgetaboutit.” God finally offered the Commandments to the Jews, who asked, “How much do they cost?” God said, “Nothing.” The Jews said, “OK, we’ll take ten.”

Seriously, my work with clients of all stripes has shown, at least since the 2008 financial crisis: The Ten Commandments, far from dusty and irrelevant today, can serve as a roadmap for changing the game—any game.

How so? Let’s take a look.

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