Collective Ownership – The Theatre Paradigm

(Excerpts from a response to a client brief)
Taking Ownership – A play happens when many skill-sets, functions, perspectives, and expertise come together.  There are Actors, the Director, Music composer, the Light andSound Crew, the Set designer, the Props specialist, Costumes, Make-up.  Among the actors themselves, there are several roles with clear cut hierarchies and motivations. However, acrossroles, across functions and skill-sets, everyone takes COMPLETE OWNERSHIP of the play, and accountability for the audience (customer) experience. Everyone is acutely aware that unless the audience gets up and applauds the play, no role, no function, has been worth it.  Strong egos are not dropped or diluted, but powerfully aligned to the play and the response of the audience.  This ensures Collaboration, open and trusting Communication, the willingness to give and receive Critical Feedback, and facilitates Situational Leadership where people can give suggestions and ideas across roles and functions even if they are not directly part of that particular role or function.
Understanding the Marketplace – As the success of the play is almost entirely defined by the response of the audience, everyone involved ensures that they have adequate understanding about the nature of the audience andthe cultural elements that could change from audience to audience.  Even so, it is never possible to fully estimate how an audience will respond. The group therefore has to be willing to assess the audience (market place) show to show, moment to moment.
Result-Orientation – Few things can be more ‘result-oriented’ than a theatre performance.  No matter how skillful the performance or perfect the stage-craft, the success of the play is measured by the audience response.  Everyone is totally tuned to what needs to be done not only from show to show, but even within a show to enhance the audience experience.  Quality and Kaizen become practical applications and not just generalised or esoteric concepts.
Trust in One Another – Theatre practitioners are not by any measure, ego-less or selfless.  They can be highly competitive and ambitious, and are oftencompelled by the desire for ‘stardom’.  They are keen to be seen and rated as good, sought after performers.  In spite of this, once the play is in process, everyone is clear that they can only win together.  They are also clear that everyone involved is equally committed to the play as a whole and to a positive and excited audience response.  This trust in each other’s clarity and commitment, and not necessarily in each other as people, is what matters. While it may sound ideal to have a team where everyone likes and trusts each other, that would be next to impossible.  Whereas, as consistently experienced in theatre, it is possible for even people who may not personally like or trust each other, to have complete trust in each other’s clarity of, and commitment to, the common goal, and collective success as defined by the customer experience.

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