Friday, December 19, 2008

Animation Movie As Management Tool

This happened some years ago ... when I was Project Manager. This was one of the two out of the box events that I organized for peers.

I had recently (then) watched the delightful animation movie Mulan with my kids. Mulan is a girl. In order to save her old father from joining the Chinese Imperial Army dresses up as a male (female were treated as second class citizens then!) to fight the invading Huns. The movie is brilliant in its conception and execution. I also thought the movie showed how leadership qualities can emerge from ranks. Mulan displays exceptional presence of mind. Mulan goes on to save China from the Huns and bring honour to her family.

I wanted to share Mulan with the other Project Managers, Technical Leaders and other Group Heads.

The first hurdle was of course top management who wanted to know what is the advantage of showing a movie to the middle management. Something like what would be the ROI. ROI?? Anyways. That took a little convincing, but got there in the end.

I set up a meeting for "Discussions on Leadership" and when everyone came in, I first surprised them by handing all of them a packet of potato chips and juice (in tetrapack). I then stated with the usual presentation slide. And then the second slide was the movie.

I could see the senior members of the middle management squirming with unease initially but by the end of the movie they were all spellbound. There was even a recommendation that all members of the company be shown Mulan.

Now I don't believe that the lessons that I absorbed from Mulan was absorbed by all. Or even if anyone retained any. (I am not sure I retain any message.) But it was fun when I did it so many years ago.

Now, what did I achieve?
I was pretty much convinced that I could conceive and execute an idea, however outlandish. That was the first of many other such ideas that followed later.

And for some reason the image of some members squirming in discomfort still remains vivid in my mind. I still an aversion to people who take being grown up very seriously.

It all came back as I saw another China centric animation movie Kung Fu Panda today.

Note: The picture used belongs to Cinzia Nicolini. To see more such photographs visit the gallery.

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1 comment:

poietes said...

It's amazing how you can use things that normally have children as their primary audience and direct them to adults for a different message. When I was teaching college literature, I once brought in Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham as an illustration of rising action, climax, falling action and denouement. At first, when the class saw the book, there were some chuckles here and there. When I began reading, you could sense some discomfort, as in "is she really going to subject us to this?" But once I started to break down the narrative into parts and to chart those parts on the board, the chuckling ceased and the message was heard.

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