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October 9, 2008

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Notes on Directing

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 6:05 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Notes on Directing: 130 Lessons in Leadership from the Director's Chair by Frank Hauser ad Russell Reich, Walker & Company, 127 pages, $15.00, Paperback, September 2008, ISBN 9780802717085 Authors Joseph Pine and James Gilmore told us "Work is Theatre" in their 1999 book The Experience Economy. The authors drew on the arts, in particular theatre, and explored the metaphor between business and the stage. The script for a play is "the basic code of events," much like how a firm choreographs the exchanges between sales, order entry, operations, and distribution. The performance itself is the product delivered, the value created. The metaphor grows as human resources become the casting department, and the director's role resembles a more dynamic version of the typical project manager or business leader. We chose another book this month that exposes those same parallels. Notes on Directing by Frank Hauser and Russell Reich was written for the aspiring director looking to improve their craft. The book publisher Walker & Company recognized the same thing I did and chose the subtitle "130 Lessons in Leadership from the Director’s Chair." This book is about getting a group of people all on the same page and accomplishing something, whether it’s staging a play, launching a product, or holding a bake sale. The book is delivered in short bursts and an active voice. Do this. Don't do that. Here are just a few of business corollaries you'll find:
29. Directing is mostly casting. Some say directing is 60 percent, others say 90 percent. Regardless, it's a lot. There is not a more important single decision you will make during production than who you put into a role. ...
61. Sincerely praise actors early and often. ... Rather than correcting your actors all the time, get into the habit of frequently telling them what they are doing right. ...
65. Never, NEVER bully ... ... either by shouting or sarcasm, or worse of all, imitation. It will get a laugh and make an enemy. ...
70. Please, PLEASE be decisive. As the director, you have three weapons: "Yes," "No," and "I don't know." Use them. Don't dither; you can always change your mind later. Nobody minds that. ...
The Arts have been doing innovation and project management for several centuries longer than us business types. Notes on Directing is another example that shows there is a lot to learn from other disciplines.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.