This clever urban graffitti-qua-London Underground signs pokes fun at a slow, crowded, frustrating system, using the system’s own language. Apart from street protests and strikes, this is one of the ways that leaders from the bottom up can (rather sneakily) poke at visible, top-down leaders trying (and apparently failing) to deal with problems in an overloaded system.

It may not be worldchanging, in an immediate way, this kind of satirical intervention. It may not be nice. It’s been said that it’s the only kind of protest the powerless can do. Laughter is a step in the right direction — because being nice doesn’t necessarily get ordinary folks the results we want!

Check out Malvina Reynold’s song, It Isn’t Nice to hear a classic argument about the importance of protest from a contemporary of Pete Seeger, and author of the famous song, “Little Boxes.”

She sings: “There are nicer ways to do it/but the nice ways often fail!”

This is one of the ways Shapeshifter Leadership works — outside the box of organizations. Masking an ironic protest message behind art/signs that mimic the ordinances and warnings of the London Underground authority, they’re sending that same authority an entertaining, and serious message — “Help! We’re suffocating in here!”

This kind of shapeshifter leader is strategic in a different way from the change-from-within-the system shapeshifter on a corporate or organizational team. But each one has a similar goal — show that the rules aren’t working, using irony and comedy to poke fun at the flaws, the elephant in the room. Or in the case of the London Underground, the squashed together elephants in the tube…



Joe Blogs

My friend Darren sent me a linkto these rather excellent alternative London Underground signs…

(click image above for link to original photographers blog)

Apparently they’ve been appearing for some time now, but like 99% of passengers, I’m sad to say I’ve missed them..

They’ve been done so well, that to a regular commuter, their utter familiarity as part of an accepted, everyday visual clutter, results in them becoming almost invisible, losing all meaning beyond their colour and shape..

Well it’s a lesson learnt for me. I usually pride myself on at least attempting to see beyond the day to day, and resist the automatic filters that city life can generate.

Rest assured, that I will certainly be keeping a much sharper lookout for these signs from now on… How I would’ve loved to have noticed Shepherd’s Pie, overground, Gas mark 4 on a journey into work, it would have…

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