All great movies have few things in common. Same is true with all-important programs or projects. More importantly, there is so much similarity between the great movies and great projects.
Some of those are successful because of the main character taking them on their own shoulders while most are a result of great teamwork and driven by great directors. Even the superhero (or heroine) movies are really a result of great teamwork who comes together to produce that great experience.
1. The grip
The best of the movies gets your attention within the first few minutes and then never let it divert. As soon as the movie starts, everything else gets blurred — Just as the light around you.
You immediately forget your tensions, your challenges, your struggles. You are taken into an entirely different world where your complete focus is on the proceedings, and you cannot wait to see what happens next. The director of the movie is able to achieve this with various aspects that constitute the movie.
Leaders should be able to learn from these directors on how to engage the entire team involved in whatever the project is — right from the start of the project and then be able to keep that engagement until the end of the project.
2. Roles and Teamwork
Another aspect of great movies is that there is excellent teamwork visible all over. Every character has been given an importance, time to introduce them properly so they are remembered right from the entry point.
No matter how small, but everyone plays a significant and memorable role, and everyone gives their best. This includes the visible roles which we can see on the screen as well as other invisible roles — like the story writer, the music director, the editors, the choreographers, the costume designers, and so many others.
Leaders should select the right team members for the roles they will have in the project, understand their capabilities to suit those roles and then introduce them to everyone — and they, in turn, pick that up right from the start — making the first impression which then is continually maintained throughout.
Obviously there is key front ending team who is interacting with the customers/clients. But there is a much bigger team which is working behind the scenes and still making their impact visible — the engineers, the designers, the programmers, testers, the planners, the production line staff and many more. Many departments within the organization and also outside parties may be involved and are working cohesively towards the project deliverable.
3. The bond
The bond between characters is very strong. There are emotions attached and roller coaster moments of the peaks and valleys, interests and conflicts, but the bond is so strong that by remaining together they work towards the end goal and not get distracted.
It is for the leader, program or project manager to make sure there is a good bonding developed between various team members — no matter if they are all at one location or diverse locations. There will be conflicts but those should be resolved by the leader/manager by pitching in and sorting out the differences and bringing the cohesiveness.
4. Presence of the leader
The real leader whether visible or invisible on screen, is always felt in every moment.
The project leader/manager will have to bear that in mind always. Whether he is in action in front of the team, in meetings, or even when not available for any valid reasons, the team should have the feel that she/he is always there for them and when in need, will jump in.
5. The Twists and Turns
The twists, turns in the plot which appear from nowhere, and how they get handled by the characters to come out winning from them.
There are always going to be plans — whether there is plan A, plan B — but then there are going to be realities which will force deviations from the plans and then having to re-plan by re-calibrating everything to focus on the target and bring things back on track.
Certain situations cannot be foreseen but when they hit, it is for the leader to come up with the right strategy to overcome the situation and don’t forget that everyone and anyone from the team can come up with that brilliant idea.
There is continuous engagement — no time to think anything else or get bored.
It is the responsibility of the leader to continuously provide updates on the progress or deviations related to the project and make sure that all the Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed team members (commonly known as ‘RACI’), as well as all Steering Committee members and all Stakeholders, are getting up-to-date information about the various aspects of the project.
There are enough lighter moments to ease things up.
Project milestones should be celebrated which help in bonding as well as add some zest once getting back on the project work. Even during the normal weeks, deadlines, hurdles, differences, conflicts can add to the stress and hence it is critical to have some teamwork activities built in on a regular basis.
8. The Impact
The impact lasts long after the movie ends, making you wish to wait for the next movie from the same team again. Some of the actors/players may change or may have entirely different characters to enact or play.
When the project ends successfully, the impact and reaction of all involved should be such that they get really interested in working together on the next project/next challenge together and maybe with different enhanced roles for everyone to make use of the experience gained.