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#292: Using Movies to Improve Management

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I have been training management teams in leadership, communication and negotiation for a long time. I have used just about every facilitation and leadership approach in the book. Do you have anything new?

What about taking everyone to the movies?

No, we don't mean packing everyone off to the local cineplex. How about using some classic movies as the basis of discussion? Some movies have rich characters, plot and storylines that would make for fertile discussion among members of a management team. Here are a few:
  • Twelve Angry Men (1957) is a story of a jury deciding an apparent open and shut murder case. The character development and evolving story line reflects common interactions in management team negotiations.
  • The Caine Mutiny (1954) addresses weakness of command, ethical dilemmas, communication between ranks, and executive decisionmaking. And you though running a company was easy?
  • The Godfather (1972) is all about what is business and what is personal, transfer of control, and about the impact of traditions on operation of an enterprise.
  • 12 O'Clock High (1949) is a look into leadership, betrayal, morale, discipline, and perseverance under duress. Strip away the war setting and you will find many elements of how teams behave under stressful settings and how they cope.
  • The Office - Not a movie but a weekly TV show with fertile representation of all too familiar personalities in many business settings. A smorgasbord of how not to manage.
Have managers watch these movies for discussion and comparison to their current individual and group behavior. Better yet, have the team watch them together on your next management retreat and discuss merits of the characters and team behavior.

Tip: OK, maybe getting your clients to watch movies is impractical. However, it doesn't mean you can't watch themselves and take the message back to them. Watch them with an eye to how you would advise those in leadership or decision making positions in these movies.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client  communication  decision making  leadership  learning 

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Ira S. Miller says...
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010
My daughter is an English as a Second Language teacher. Her classes are a combination of grades (ages 12 - 18) and language skills (basic English to illiterate in their primary language). She uses films as a basis for sharing universal situations and feelings. Of course, her's is a captive audience.

I wonder if a reader would be willing to share a specific experience using popular art as a teaching tool?
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Michael E. Cohen CMC MBA says...
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Have you ever done this, Mark? It sounds interesting. You have my all time favorite movie listed- "12 Angry Men."

Also, as an example of how not to sell (although some of it may be on target)- "Glengarry Glen Ross."

I assume you'd have to have a fiar enouhg time to use a film, especially a well-known film made for another purpose. I'd also be interested in hearing about anyone who has actually done this.
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