I studied theatre and the performing arts and have worked as an actor and director of theatre plays. It’s not surprising then that I think all the world’s a stage. I also happen to think that the world of business can learn a lot from the world of show business.
Suggestion No 1 : Preparations
Theatre plays are projects with an immutable deadline. Actors do not sit around and talk very much about their roles. There is no time. They get on their feet and prepare them. It’s about action not opinions. Businesses should, I think, consider removing all seats from meeting rooms. This will make meeting shorter and more dynamic. You think better when you are standing up.
Suggestion No 2 : Mission Drift
A play is a play. A theatre has one function. To put on plays that bring in audiences. That’s it. And that’s enough. Businesses should focus on what they do and why they do it and then..er…do it.
Suggestion No 3: Structure
The theatre is a highly structured organisation. You have an artistic director (boss), a director (project leader) , actors (workers) , technicians (geeks) and ‘front of house’ (sales and after-sales) . Everyone knows what they have to do . Everyone has, sometimes literally, a part to play. The organigram is simple.
Businesses should simplify their structures so responsibility is clearly located. You don’t want people spending time on the phone trying to find who they need to speak to. They should just know.
Suggestion No 4: Attitude
If the actress playing Juliet detests the actor playing Romeo they will still kiss on the balcony and the audience will believe. There’s no room for personality politics in the business of theatre. Actors can be the most self-centred, egotistical monsters imaginable but on stage and in rehearsals they are usually highly professional performers. Businesses should cultivate an atmosphere where office politics is frowned upon. In the theatre you sink or swim together. How could this not be also true of businesses?
Suggestion No 5: The Show Must Go On
You never, ever, EVER get enough time to rehearse a play. The costumes won’t all fit, and the leading actor will get flu two days before the opening night. You never get perfect conditions. But, part of the magic of theatre is that on the night everything works out okay. Somehow, you all get through and deliver the play. There is no point complaining about how bad things are in theatre. Actors and directors were saying “Just do it” when Nike was still just a Greek goddess. Businesses should encourage staff to provide solutions and to be able to communicate them to the right person easily.
Suggestion No 6: Party!
When the project is over you have a lot of people who have worked very hard. When you can do no more and the product is out there. Open the champagne!