Published on: September 29, 2014by Kevin Coupe
I'm a writer, damn it. Not a miracle worker.
Which is probably what it would take to get the US Commerce Department Inspector General to see things my way. But let me give it a shot…
The Washington Post reports that "in May 2013, a supervisor at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series — which monitors, among other things, space weather — organized a 'team building' activity in the middle of the day to go grab lunch together and then all see the 2 p.m. showing of Star Trek Into Darkness.
"Many who attended assumed that since it was a work-organized event, they could charge the time as work hours. But the Commerce Department’s inspector general said in a report released this week that oh no, going to the movies is not work.
'The OIG concluded that, unlike training events, which are designed to develop professional skills and therefore may be counted as work hours, watching a Star Trek movie offered no professional development opportunities,' according to the report. 'Therefore, even if such an event resulted in greater unity or cohesion, the hours spent at the event should not have been billed to the government'."
May I offer a different opinion…?
As has been well-chronicled on MNB, to the point of shameless self-promotion that likely will continue as long as I can beat this particular drum, I am the co-author, with Michael Sansolo, of a little book called "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies." (Available on Amazon by clicking here, in case you were wondering.)
In fact, our entire premise is that you can learn important business lessons - about branding and marketing, about leadership and teamwork - from the movies.
Forget about how the hours were counted for payroll purposes. (I wonder which cost more - the trip to the movies or the inspector general's investigation? But I digress…)
Almost all of the Star Trek movies are great examples of how movies can provide critical lessons. Think about the different management styles exemplified by Kirk and Spock. Think about how almost all the movies hinge on some discussion of the importance of the many vs. the importance of the one. Think about how Star Trek Into Darkness specifically looked at the question of whether one should do certain things just because one can do certain things. It also was about how rules are important - in this case, the Prime Directive - but that sometimes one has to break the rules. One of the things you see in pretty much all the Star Trek movies and TV series is an exploration of the importance of team-building, of management styles that range from cowboy (Kirk) to diplomat (Picard) to soldier (Sisko) … though, to the show's credit, it often was able to show variations and subtleties within these characterizations.
Now, to be fair, it doesn't sound like the folks at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series got together afterwards to discuss the movie and its lessons - but that doesn't mean that going was a bad idea. In fact, it made a lot of sense, even if it was accomplished in a ham-fisted way.
I once was told that a major retail CEO once ordered his entire management team to go see The Social Network, saying that it was important that they understand how people were changing the way they communicated and related to each other …because if they did not, they would not be able to understand and relate to that customer.
That makes sense. At least to me.
So go to the movies. Or rent one and watch it at home. Find the lesson. Talk about it.
It isn't the final frontier of management. But it is a fun one.
- KC's View: