Okay, let’s make it clear from the outset I’ve never attended the Harvard Business School and I don’t have an MBA from Stanford. However, I’d like to think I have a modicum of common sense when it comes to doing business. I am not without some experience having run my own production company back in the late sixties and early seventies. My partners and I produced no fewer than a dozen animated and live-action projects and we’re no strangers when it comes to motion picture and television production.
Some years ago, I was employed by a studio that shall remain nameless. Not as large as the mega studios of today, it did employ a fair number of talented animation artists. This is where my story takes place. Production does not always go according to plan and the allocation of work can often time be somewhat erratic. In this particular situation our crew had just completed a show and most of the artists sat waiting for their next assignment. However, no new assignment was forthcoming so most sat at their desks with nothing to do. Hardly a good idea, I thought.
Suddenly, I had an idea and I took it to my top managers. I had storyboards ready to be put into the pipe line. Why not allow my team to put the show into production? My bosses were wary. “We’ve decided not to produce that show,” they countered. “Putting that storyboard into production simply doesn’t make any sense.” At this juncture I knew I would have to be convincing. “What’s the worse that can happen?” I said. “Should you decide to produce this show one day, you’re already halfway there." In the meantime I’ve got work for my crew and they needn’t even know the show they’re doing may never be produced. They’ll be working and motivated. Plus, they’ll be sharpening their skills and be primed and ready to go when the next assignment comes along. “How can you lose,” I said. “It’s a win-win for all concerned.”
The next thing I knew the storyboards were being handed out and the show moved into production. My team set themselves to the task, and energy and enthusiasm filled the room. The work they did looked pretty darn good even though the show was never produced. Of course, I doubt our talented staff ever knew that. Most workers are not attuned to the major decisions being made in the upstairs executive suites. They need to feel motivated and know that something worthwhile is being accomplished. Let’s push ahead several decades. Today, I see this same scenario being repeated as managers, caught in gridlock, can’t seem to make a decision. Even today, it would appear nothing has changed when it comes to wise management decisions.
Once again, I’m not a top manager and I’ve never attended Harvard Business School. However, it strikes me as incredibly wasteful to have employees sitting around with nothing to do. Why not have motivated employees especially when so much needs to be done? It’s hardly an effective use of resources and it’s a poor way of doing business. Yet, this scenario tends to repeat itself again and again. While I’m known for taking comical jabs at top and mid level managers from time to time, I know these people are a good deal smarter at what they do than I am. Then again… sometimes I wonder.