Reaching an Audience for Learnings From the Financial Crisis

Joachim Maier

Cinematic Consulting supports disruptive innovators with social filmmaking tools in their quest to ask the right questions, observe the world like anthropologists, network for novel ideas, and experiment to make things work—convinced about the accuracy of Henry Mintzberg's advice to focus on the people on the ground, not "detached experts," for ideas, for real improvements. Every cineaste knows: Movies convey and contain emotions, and leave you in the audience with a clear head. If a movie makes an impression, once it ends and the lights turn on, you know exactly what to do.

In organizational development (OD) learning is a characteristic of an adaptive organization. Social filmmaking is the user-generated fabric of a movie in an organizational context. Social filmmaking homes in on a reply upon the commonly neglected question what should we really adapt to and react upon. The short answer: one should act upon the stories that make up the living reality of all the people, whose jobs and passions are the reproduction of the focal system. The purpose of this text is the introduction of social filmmaking as a low-cost and do it yourself tool for organizational development activists. By means of giving voice to the corporate crowd in strategic, transformative or educational processes all-alike. This chapter intends to inspire your OD repertoire and shall address three issues:

1. Reveal the single most touching customer feedback upon a social filmmaking intervention.

2. Address the biggest concern of my customers, namely, will employees speak out in front of a camera?

3. Portrait the dynamics of my own quest for reaching an audience for learnings from the financial crisis.


In autumn 2011, I have been invited to run a one day user-generated video workshop with 15 people from a small branch of IBM. M. was the gatekeeper—a senior team member, who was not the formal boss at the time. In the advent of major leave-takings (including his own), M. initiated and facilitated a series of six meetings. M. wanted to counteract the teams' expected breakup by fueling the team members with pride and a sense of purpose. First, everybody was invited to come up with a 60 second micro-story upon the question: "What is it that you want to experience, before you move on to the next team and your next role within or outside this organization?" The participants made use of their iPhones to film their statements. In a second (so-called story-battle) step, the team opted for one favorite story. Subsequently, that champion story was developed, enacted and shot under the auspice of the initial storyteller. At the end of the day, one group accomplished the final editing of that champion story, while the other team members polished and arranged the 15 individual short statements. Closure approached. With a public viewing of the days' work, everybody received all the clips on a memory stick, before the participants went on to enjoy dinner.

After the workshop, M. went for a late visit to his friend S.—a male, in his late 40s. S. has been on sick-leave for consecutive 3 months due to burn-out symptoms. Over a beer or three, M. unpacked the flash card with the days' work. S. was deeply moved by the various energetic recordings on the "what do you want to experience here, before you move on to the next business role?"—question. Before long S. starts to weep and opens up for a serious discussion regarding his own chores and unfinished businesses. I was touched by this side-story, too. Apparently beyond my initial claim movies do not only convey and contain emotions, and leave you in the audience with a clear head, but just as well trigger emotional responses. If a movie makes an impression, once it ends and the lights turn on, you know exactly how you feel and what to do. The take away for OD-people? When was the last time that you heard of a story starring a 40-something year old-male moved to tears and willing to acknowledge and act upon a difficult situation? And in terms of workshop-work-reality-transfer: assume that, say, one-third of the participants chose to display their movies by the end of the day in a similar fashion— and fed-back their echoes?

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