The Dance of Business: Choreography vs. Performance
Have you ever watch somebody dancing on the stage or on TV? If it’s done well, the movements flow easily into each other. Each movement is performed with maximum energy, maximum stretch, maximum power, maximum concentration. Each segment leads to another which builds on the one before. There’s economy of movement meaning that there are no stray movements that distract or waste energy or don’t contribute to the value presented to the viewer. There’s a planned use of all the space on the stage or within the viewing angle of the camera. If there are multiple dancers, they don’t run into each other or trip over each other. They sometimes move as a unit, and when they don’t, they complement each other. The purpose of the dance is to present a theme, picture or story, to communicate to the audience an experience portrayed through dance. Often the movements are done in conjunction with music.
Is all this random? Hardly.
Behind all this movement is a choreographer who has created a concept, orchestrated the players, selected the music, laid out each performer’s path through the space, coordinated their efforts, demonstrated the power and intensity and shape of each of the movements to convey the theme, determined the rhythm and timing to maximize the audience’s perception and enjoyment, selected the right performers for the right roles, determined the deadlines so that the performance would be ready for opening night.
Here are 10 business planning parallels between the world of dance and the world of business?
1. A business without a plan is like a dance without a choreographer. Movements are haphazard. The purpose is fuzzy. It’s a mish mash of what everybody (every body) thinks might work, but it most likely doesn’t work together.
2. Employees like dancers create more value (a better dance) when they work together toward a common purpose or theme.
3. When everybody knows the path (direction) and what they are supposed to do, they can dance (execute company goals) more freely with greater concentration, conviction, energy, strength and stretch (of their comfort zones). It’s very freeing to have indecision removed and know precisely what will lead us to complete our purpose.
4. Better use of resources and less waste. When the choreographer (like the business leader) determines a progression toward a destination, resources such as space on a stage or dollars in a budget can be better leveraged for highest and best use.
5. When a dance is well choreographed, or a business is well planned, it is highly sustainable. Just like legendary ballets such as ‘Swan Lake’, well planned businesses such as Southwest Airlines have long standing reputations and legacies for their ability to delight the audience.
6. The performers often help the choreographer plan the dance. The choreographer has an idea (sometimes the performers, also) and she tries it out with the dancers. The performers help her to know if it works, if it fits, if what’s in her mind plays out well in reality. Isn’t this true in your organization? If an idea really doesn’t work, there is push back and the plan is modified or better communicated. The performers (employees) create reality checks for the business owner (choreographer).
7. When the performers (employees) buy into the choreography (business plan) because they perceive it works, and when it furthers their own personal and professional goals, they will support it and execute it with engagement and commitment. They will become better dancers and better employees because they want to, not because you want them to.
8. Great choreographers (and great business leaders) attract great dancers (and great employees.) Everyone wants to work for the best because they want to maximize their potential and be part of something wonderful and significant. Well planned businesses don’t have trouble recruiting or retaining top talent.
9. Choreographers know the talent they need for each role and select dancers for their strengths. Business leaders do the same.
10, Great leaders (and choreographers) mobilize and motivate, set deadlines, handle obstacles and help the employees (performers) accomplish the strategic business plan (dance performance).
Whether on the dance stage or the theater of business, a famous line from Yogi Bera puts it into perspective, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”