In 1988 Daryl Conner coined the metaphor of “the burning platform” which ever since has played a prominent role in many change management concepts and projects. As Daryl recounts on his company’s website the metaphor comes from a survivor of a burning oil rig who only had the alternative of certain death in the flames if he stayed on the platform, or probable death if he jumped into the freezing sea where he would survive a maximum of 20 minutes. He jumped – choosing probable death over certain death – and survived.
One reason why the metaphor of the burning platform is so popular is that it reflects human behavior so well: most of us try to avoid change at nearly any price. Change disrupts our routines, takes us into unknown territory and usually carries risks we would rather avoid. MORE