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Who are the Mannequins of the Challenge?

mannequin challenge - flying times and crowded swift motions at Le Louvre museum in Paris. Restarto. Coaching change.

The “Mannequin Challenge” viewed by a business coach? By Sophie Audubert-Todorovic

As probably many of you did, I received regular messages on business social networks proudly announcing: “Have a look at our own mannequin challenge!” A click later, I had the surprise to discover… students, workers, managers, standing still in a professional attitude meant to show, thanks to non-verbal codes, the essential of their activity or their pleasure while working or learning, the challenge consisting in not moving during the video shooting. Of course, it’s another new web trend, probably nicer for their actors than the one consisting of filming oneself turning an ice-bucket over one’s head… I wondered what Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the process of photography, would say of this funny idea… remembering he asked his own model to stay immobile during hours to have a sharp picture, which made their smiles disappear.

And then, observing the process of the video itself, I saw an interesting parallel between an ultra-connected business environment, in a constant acceleration and rapid rhythm, generating its own Big Data although willing to manage it, and the human need, less conscious, to take a break and make a pause; a willingness to indulge oneself in some observation time, during which everything stops and freezes, to be able to look around and gain consciousness. I also noticed that the video was suppressing every sign of life with a music meant to sustain a global message. And then, I was stricken by the link between these attitudes, frozen and dehumanized, a cartoon version of postures, feet on the desk included, and the way emotions are often erased at work. These emotions are however enabling us to be human, alive, moving and imperfect, real Human Resources in the true sense of the term.

During coaching sessions, I often welcome clients who are half human, half mannequin; sometimes frozen, often in apnea, perceiving the crazy allure of their professional life, and willing, at last, to take a break, and to allow themselves to breathe fully again. So, before looking at this question on the management side, why couldn’t we start by freeing ourselves and reconnecting with what makes sense? Let’s hope that the future 2017 web challenges will be full of sparkling eyes, noisy bursts of laughter and hugs, breathe of life, footsteps and conversations! Let’s leave to the artists the will to sculpt, paint and take pictures of everything that could stand still. We could then allow ourselves some time for contemplation and dreams.