Businesses have reached into the past for lessons from Sun Tzu -- why not the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen?
My first career was in acting and directing but my big "breakthrough" came when I realized that all I'd learned about directing a successful play could be applied in other aspects of life, too. Now, as a coach in multiple settings, I still draw on the structure and discipline of theater for guidance. Here are 10 things to help guide you to a better business:
- Casting -- detailed character descriptions are posted for each role so that only appropriate candidates apply. Like Stephen Covey's "begin with the end in mind", directors know ahead of time exactly what they're looking for in each role.
- Auditions -- the audition process is highly structured. Each actor is put through the same process, has the same amount of time and only the absolute best are called back for a second interview. If they aren't prepared, don't wow us, don't show potential in an audition, they won't deliver in rehearsal or performance either.
- Ensemble -- all casting decisions are made with the whole cast, the whole play in mind. We cast people not only because they're brilliant individuals, but in consideration of how they'll contribute to the overall success of the production.
- Rehearsal -- the first rehearsal is a read-through of the entire play with all of the players in order to give a "big picture" view. Then each role, each scene is broken down into small, workable units and rehearsed until it's right. When each individual scene works we move on to running the production as a whole. It's a constant state of fine tuning and continuous improvement.
- Vision -- the director supplies and constantly reminds the cast and crew what the vision is. We achieve it using creativity, imagination and a lot of hard work. We put aside our personal issues in service of the vision.
- Schedule -- each part of the process is tightly scheduled and all aspects of the play -- lights, set, costume -- are reviewed for progress on a constant basis. If we fall behind schedule we take action immediately to get back on track.
- Production values -- costume, set, props, lighting, venue, are all designed to create the world of the play. Everyone needs the right tools for the job.
- Audience -- meticulous care is taken with marketing so that no one comes in guessing what the context of the play is (comedy, musical, drama) or what the story has to offer them.
- Applause -- constant feedback is the norm. In rehearsals the director is constantly giving feedback on what works and what doesn't. The critics add an outside eye. The audience, of course, is the final judge, and ticket sales pay salaries and keep the lights on.
- Passion -- theater is the ultimate example of doing what you love and the success will follow. Long hours, sweat and heartache go into every production and it is never about 'faking it'; it's about believing in something so much that it becomes true.
Imagine your efforts as heading for an 'opening night'; creating not just applause, but a standing ovation. Cast the right people, give them the right tools and give them constant feedback and you're sure to have a 'hit'.