Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 18, Issue No. 6a
October 1, 2019
By Dan Coughlin
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People need to know what to do and why to do it.
They are willing to work hard. They have great talent. They are passionate. But they need to understand the story they are stepping into and why it is important and what they need to focus on in order to be successful.
The Art of Theater and the Art of Business
My daughter, Sarah, is a junior in college, and she is a Theater Arts Major.
Now that I’ve learned what theater arts are all about, I think every aspiring business executive should have at least a minor in theater arts.
Theater arts is about the creation and delivery of a meaningful story in a three-dimensional, human way. There are so many parts to the creation and delivery of a story. A script needs to be written with a purpose and a plot and characters, those characters need to be selected and directed by certain types of people who can bring out the best in each person to generate scenes that are worthy of the story to be told, sets need to be designed that are the art that the actors step into, which is Sarah’s particular skill and passion, lighting needs to be guided, costumes and props need to be made, and profits need to be produced in order to afford to do it all over again.
Business is about the creation and delivery of a meaningful story in a three-dimensional, human way. There are so many parts to the creation and delivery of a business. A strategy needs to be written with a purpose, a plan needs to be written for certain types of employees to deliver certain types of products and services to certain types of people, managers need to be cultivated who can guide those employees effectively, relationships need to be developed with certain types of suppliers, a culture needs to be established to sustain the business and help build the desired brand, and profits need to be produced in order to do it all over again.
Notice that there is the business of theater and the theater of business. They are intertwined.
Every Day Talk about the Big Picture
If a producer and a director do not know what the end picture is supposed to look like and feel like, they can invest a lot of time, energy, and money, and end up creating something meaningless and worthless. Knowing what the end result is supposed to look and feel like and how it connects to the purpose of the story is essential to creating a great theatrical production, tv show, or film.
If a business executive doesn’t know what the end picture is supposed to be like for customers in terms of the value they receive and the experience they go through in receiving it, then they can invest an enormous amount of time, energy, and money, and end up creating and delivering something that is meaningless and worthless.
Once the producer and director know the desired end result, they need to talk about that big picture, that big dream, every day so that all of the people working on the show can see what they are working toward.
Once the business executive sees the desired end result for customers and for his or her organization, then he or she needs to talk about it every day over and over and over so that the employees can see what they are working toward creating and delivering.
Every Day Talk about the Little Details
However, vision alone does not make a great show. Along the way there are countless details that have to be executed over and over in every part from the script to the set to the acting and lighting and so on. Details matter in theater, television, and films. They matter a lot.
Vision alone does not make a great business. There are thousands of details that need to be focused on and executed properly. Every detail matters. They all matter a great deal.
A beautiful example that shows the importance of talking about the big dream and the little details was the making of Disneyland in the early 1950s. Walt Disney created a television show called, Disneyland, where he talked over and over about a theme park that would become the happiest place on earth. He showed blueprints and drawings of the park. There are iconic photos of him standing on a pile of dirt and explaining what it would become.
And then every day he talked about the details of all of the different parts of Disneyland and what needed to be accomplished.
This is what you need to do in your work. Every day talk about the vision and the purpose and why the end result is so incredibly important. And every day talk about the details that need to be executed in order to make the vision a reality.
Republishing ArticlesMy newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.