How to make enchantment endure by Guy Kawasaki


In this article I explore the way Guy Kawasaki maps internal mechanisms that gather energy around a cause, an ethical and worthwhile product or a social movement.   If you want to learn about how to catalyse commitment and to consistently maintain momentum – read Enchantment.  The author seeks to deepen the readers understanding about how to develop and sustain commitment to qualities such as honesty, trustworthiness, social awareness and community responsibility.  There is a flavour to the book that helps the reader think through power relationships with an attitude that is both ethical and efficacious in the context of persuasive situations.

At some stages of this discussion, I also draw on the work of  Steilstra (2005) to show that these ideas are sound and useful but not commonly thought out and expressed in such a clear and succinct manner.   The work of Amnesty International is often mentioned so that the reader can think through the strategies with an example in mind.


Setting the Stage for Situations of Honest Communication

In chapter 7 of Enchantment, Kawasaki summarises a framework within which practitioners can bring about long-lasting change. As Kawasaki suggests, the purpose of transformative engagement is to bring about total change of mind, heart and through this change – action.

At first glance Kawasaki seems a little manipulative.  In Chapter 11 called How to Enchant Your Boss, he seems to be suggesting smooching!  To bring this strange slant into perspective, one needs to read the whole book.   On a deeper reading, thinkers will realise that within the very densely packed text, there is a fundamental commitment to honesty itself as the critical value for a life well lived.  So the idea behind the chapter may well be that if you don\’t actually respect (as opposed to like) your boss or the company you work for, it could be time to change jobs and find a cause you can uphold with a passion.

Internalisation the Highest Level of Commitment

Kawasaki advises that those who would involve themselves in social engineering would be better to aim for commitment and involvement that operates at the highest level.  He calls this concept internalisation.

Within the structure of a peace process, he says that values go through three stages.

  • Conformity: concomitants are subject to peer pressure, and they have been tricked or are involved due to a desire to belong
  • Identification: although a little more comfortable the members are a little too enthralled by the leader, they desire approval and crave belonging to a group with shared interests, partly they want to \”be like\” and to be liked by those who belong to that group
  • Internalization: in this stage of value formation members feel no fear of coercion or ostracism, rather, they want to belong to a group because they have faith and believe the message, their motivation is not dependent on pleasing others, their involvement is characterised by a keen understanding, and through this understanding they have made a decision to be involved freely

Transformation Requires a Great Deal of Work

If a person truly believes in an idea, Kawasaki suggests that they will be prepared to work for it.  Someone truly committed to a cause, will be prepared to stand in line and pay full price.  Kamikaze pilots in the Second World War, for example, joined up and fearlessly (so it seems) paid the price for what they believed.

A less dramatic example of commitment with cost would be a parent who is willing to make sacrifices now because they believe that paying for an education for their child will be good for them in the long run.  This willingness to sacrifice for the future of generations to come is called generativity.

The Trap of Pluralist Ignorance

When people just go along with something that they think others believe, the thinking trap can lead to what is called collective conservatism.  It is a systems problem, or a thinking trap about which all people wishing to engage in transformative action should be aware.  Any word ending in \”ism\” is suspect for deeper thinkers, because it signals that thought is emanating from a tautological premise.

Racism and Fascism are two examples of how the suffix ism operates to indicate tautological or circular thinking.   Kawasaki warns that this type of thinking will lead people into a downward spiral.  The term Culture Cleansing is an example of very dodgy thinking denoting an obfuscating name that has credence in democratic societies today. Rethink Refugee is a website where Amnesty International tends to unpack terms and the myths that underlie them in an attempt to clear up misconceptions and deliberate distortion of the truth.

The complexity that can be tolerated by modern Action Research models of Inquiry also enables investigative frameworks that privilege the truth above dichotomous, rationalistic, mechanistic thinking.

Strike a Match – Kindle the Flame

Both Kawasaki and Stielstra make the point that without a fantastic product all the marketing in the world will not bring about the change of heart, mind and action intended by the marketer.   Amnesty International is marketing an idea.  They want to promote the stance that before decisions are made that effect the lives of refugee peoples, it is in the interest of the Australian population that they are given clear, pertinent and honestly factual information.  Their stance is open and honest, and they are freed by their approach to be respectful of Australian people.  Within the context of personal research, Australians have the opportunity to arrive at an understanding about refugee issues that they can internalise.

Parallels between Pyro Marketing and Enchantment

In chapter 3 of Pyro Marketing, Stielstra (2006) talks of gathering the driest tinder, whilst Kawasaki talks about separating out the true believers.  Both strategic authors mean that they can\’t see any point wasting breath on those who simply are not convinced about a message.

In chapter 4, Stielstra advocates launching an idea by setting it \”on fire.\”  Both writers advocate educating believers about how to achieve their goals in a non manipulative fashion.  A relevant example can be seen on the Amnesty International website where a button is provided so that those who wish to speak up for the rights of claimants can do so straight away. Both writers advocate providing a space dedicated for communication so that those who want to follow the message, and who would like support have a space where they can talk about issues that are important and relevant.

Kawasaki advises providing a safe incubating space where administrators and others who would wish to cling to conservatism can\’t prevent researchers and advocates functioning    effectively.    Both Kawasaki and Steilstra, advise readers to utilise social media marketing tools.    The idea of social media, whilst wholly worthwhile, may not be relevant when applied to raw coal face transformative spaces such as prisons, mental health institutions, and peace keeping troops in the jungle etc.

Protect Creativity by Pushing Implementation Down

Contentiously in chapter 7, Kawasaki intimates that people lower down the scale in the power structure of our society may be an untapped minefield of creative ideas.   They should be encouraged to value their own voice. School administration, university academics, and other powerful people such as politicians have their own agenda; they have limitations and restrictions placed upon them by the power based culture within which they operate.

By asking that all those who would bring about transformative change in society to push implementation down, (p98) Kawasaki is asking that administrators be mindful about where, when and how their incubators operate so that the creativity inherent within practical inquiries is not killed off unintentionally.

One of the ways researchers can push implementation down is described in Complexity of Action Research, I have positioned clarity and transparency as one of the structural parameters within which administrators attempt to protect the integrity of research projects.   This is why learning partnerships such as CLIPs are so important in places like schools, health institutions and places of correction.  Kawasaki\’s ideas are suitable for spaces where many interest groups operate from different perspectives.

Catalyse Commitment & Consistency

By p103, Kawasaki has explained the internal mechanisms of gathering energy around a cause, an ethical and worthwhile product or a social movement.   If you want to learn about how to catalyse commitment and to consistently maintain momentum – read Enchantment. He talks about such qualities as honesty, trustworthiness, social awareness and community responsibility.  There is a flavour to the book that helps the reader think through power relationships with an attitude that is both ethical and efficacious in the context of persuasive situations.