Friday, August 06, 2010

What the Biz Rep Has Learned -- #5

Tonight's lesson:

New management always rolls into town and reinvents all the wheels ... Whether the wheels need reinventing or not ...

I've seen this happen time and again.

An animation division has some failures, and the conglomerate's Top Dog (whoever that Dog happens to be) replaces the executive(s) deemed to be causing the under-performance. A "fresh, innovative team" is brought in to repair the division.

So far, so wonderful. But what then happens is: as bad elements get tossed out and re-engineered, so do the parts that run like a well-oiled machine. The result? Sometimes the division runs better, and occasionally the division runs worse. And here and there the end results are a wash. Performance and end-products remain crappy, just in new and different ways.

What it boils down to is, better outcomes depend on how smart incoming managers are. If they sit down and ask the right questions of the right people, finding out what the processes are, they can usually bore in and make genuine improvements. But when new management marches in, barks out orders, and fails to address the actual underlying problems, the only thing that happens is one set of debacles replace the older set. (I can think of one animation studio that has stumbled along for years and is now on its fourth set of managers. In the last few months, the crew's morale is somewhat better, but prior to that I was resigned to the consistently dour faces -- and accompanying complaints -- that I found every time I walked through the place.)

Smart managers make smart course corrections; bad managers are like bulls in Florentine glass shops, stomping around and smashing vases that shouldn't be smashed (along with some of the glasswhare that should). Years ago when I was a swabbie in the U.S. Navy, a wise old CPO (Chief Petty Officer) told me:

"We get new Ensigns and Lieutenant j.g.s on board every few months. They all get assigned command of a ship's department, and the smart ones talk to the senior enlisted man to find out what's going on and then take his suggestions about what to do until they figure things out.

"The dumb ones? They mostly don't listen and usually fuck things up. They might have gone through Annapolis or Officer Candidate School, but it don't mean they know a hell of a lot about what goes on aboard ship. Especially when they've only been there a week."

The moral of the story: Just because you've been hired to "make changes" doesn't necessarily mean you have the best idea of what changes need to be made. Acquiring quality information first is always useful.


Anonymous said...

Do you think the the suits ever read this blog?

If they do.....the artist's are in trouble.

Real trouble.

Steve Hulett said...

Why would artists be in trouble?

I just regurgitate what I observe.

Anonymous said...

Artists are always in trouble. Thank god we have the mighty T.A.G. behind us. "I just regurgitate" kind of sums our reps. Go team! Oh wait a minute, what team?

Steve Hulett said...

Thank god we have the mighty T.A.G. behind us.

A guild or union is as strong as its members want it to be.

We're having nominations for new officers in a month, so why don't you come on out and put yourself up for office? Make a difference?

Or do you just sit on the sidelines and whine?

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