Monday, April 25, 2011

Best ideas come from the bottom - Burlesque

BurlesqueBurlesque should be seen at least for its soundtrack. Divas do not die - Cher and Christina Aguilera drive the audience to the extremes of aesthetic pleasure with their vocal stylings and (yes!) artistic abilities to a greater or lesser extent.

In a nutshell, it is a story of a young but talented singer (Aguilera) leaving "beloved" Iowa and moving to Los Angeles, where she falls in love with a Hollywood club called Burlesque run by an eccentric (of course!) but no less talented diva (Cher). Getting through a chain of fortunate and mis fortunate events in private and professional lives (some of them are having issues differentiating one from the other), both find love and happiness in some form. The movie trailer will give you a better idea of what it is all about:

Burlesque raises some important issues of communication between employees and management, when those who are on top do not want to and do not hear what their subordinates have to say, no matter how important, innovative or stupid that might be. "Do you listen to anything other than the sound of your own voice?" throws Aguilera a wet towel over Cher. Only then does the latter start listening to what the young rising star has to say. In the end, her suggestion saves the club from an imminent bankruptcy.

The club praises itself on "being like a family" but in reality there is only one voice that is being heard and only one opinion that matters - that of the owner. Fair enough, in the world of business one who has the power and legitimacy to be autocratic is welcome to do so, but in order to move the business forward, it is critical to gain input from everyone else. Aguilera had to wait tables for quite some time until she had a chance to sing on the stage and Cher was absolutely dumbfounded by the beauty and strength of her voice. "I had no idea you could sing like that", says she. Well, that is only because she never had the interest to ask...

In Burlesque being a Hollywood movie, all problems get miraculously resolved in the end and they live happily ever after, but out there in the real world, normally the workforce gets disillusioned and leaves. Those who stay prefer to keep silent as they know that initiative is punishable and tacit compliance is best rewarded. Employee opinion surveys become a joke and suggestion boxes are ever empty. It is because it is only genuine interest that drives employee engagement forward. You only hear if you listen and you only listen if you are empathetic or there is a personal gain. So if you don't do it because you truly care for how people are feeling, do it simply because it is what is best for your business.

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