Friday, May 11

Dear Hollywood (a heads up from the training world),

Dear Hollywood,

I bring you tidings from the Corporate training world. I hope you are doing well, and am looking forward to your summer fare.

I just have two pieces of bad news for you, and as a friend, I thought I would break it to you directly. Here is the first: your movies are just too long.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Hot Fuzz: 2 hr. 1 min.
  • Spiderman 3: 2 hr. 20 min
  • Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest: 2 hr. 20 min

Plus, when you add driving, parking, and previews, we are talking about a 3 to 4 hour commitment or longer. Who are you trying to kid? WAKE UP!

I can tell as a fact that no one has 3 hours anymore. No one. It is IMPOSSIBLE to find 3 hours in people's schedules. People are just too busy.

Learn from me. If I propose any program, I make sure it takes less than 30 minutes, and maybe even less than 15 minutes of a person's time. My motto is deliver a bit of information exactly when they need it and move on. My ultimate goal is to be a faint, useful smell wafting through the corridors. That is, after all, the easiest conversation to have with my business colleagues.

Now granted, that means I can't actually develop any new capabilities. But I can, using this "wafting" strategy, get enough funds to scrape together program pilots, as long as I only put one group through it of less than twenty people. I know, I know, you are producing blockbusters, and I am facing another budget cut. But that's just because your audiences don't get the new realities, and mine do.

I just thought of another great example. YouTube is doing so well because it provides short movies. My IT people tell me that employees entertain themselves for hours at work watching these clips and.. (oh, wait. Never mind. Bad example.)

The second piece of bad news is actually worse. Your movies take too long to produce. Two years? You have got to be kidding me. Ask any "expert" from the training world (and we have a lot of them). THERE IS NO WAY OF PREDICTING THINGS that far in advance. We have to react constantly. Wait... hold on.... THERE! Everything changed. Did you feel it? Entire social orders were up ended. Old models fell apart. Things change every second. The fact that you actually think you can know what people will like and need two years from now if frankly, a little embarrassing. (And the best part is, "embracing" constant change really means that you always have an excuse for not doing anything very well. Why research anything when you can "gut check?" Why design a program when you can just use Google? Why take responsibility or ownership at all?)

So, I thought I would give you the two pieces of bad news, and please accept my deep, deep condolences. And, of yeah, my resume.


The Training Community


Peter Shea said...


A correction: "Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End" is the name of the latest installment in the Disney pirates saga.

On another note: isn't it distressing that our tolerance for experiences longer than thirty minutes has vanished? Think of those actions which require longer concentration, like reading a novel.

Clark Aldrich said...

You are right about the new Pirates movie. In two minutes of looking up running times, I couldn't find it so I just used the last installment.

doofdaddy said...

Considering that two of those three movies are big hits your argument is kind of moot. Another way to look at it is that you get more movie for the money:)

If people are entertained or engaged, the time isn't an issue. However, if they are bored then it is.

Look at the Ken Robinson video on TED. It's just a talking head for about 20 minutes, yet very engaging. However, put me in the video, and people will complain that it's about 23 minutes too long.

Dave Lee said...

Bravo, Clark. For all the talk about "edutainment" over the past three centuries or so (at least it seems that long), you'd think we training folk might have paid a bit more attention to hollywood. Our tinseltown colleagues are focused on two key things. 1) doing whatever it takes to put butts in those movie theater seats. and 2) giving them an experience that they will remember positively and will recommend to others.

For those who still aren't convinced, let's here from everyone whose mid-manager leadership training brought in $351 million in the first three days after launch.

Anonymous said...

Really interesting post. I agree with doofdaddy. I don't mind investing time in a good movie. On the other hand, if a movie is a drag, I crib about the money and the time spent. :)

Talking about books... There are some books that we just can not put down. I am willing to compromise my sleep to finish them.

The truth of the matter is anything that is engaging is worth the time and money spent. We can actually learn a lot from good movies and books.

Think about it. A good movie can have a person so engrossed in it that they forget time. When I read articles on learning by doing, interactivities and so on, I think of how we sit through a good movie 'doing nothing'. What we need is something that will stimulate our brain that's it.

PS: I am eagerly awaiting the release of Pirates of Caribbean-At World's End.

Anonymous said...

One of the reaons that the Hollywood feature films make so much money and take so long to produce is that the producers spend the time it takes (a year or two just in pre-production on a Pixar film) to craft and polish a compelling story. The though process of well-disciplined pre-production is something sorely missing from much of the amature "new media" and "trainging" that I've seen. Bear in mind I'm not a training expert so my exposure to good training is limited.

Unknown said...

Brilliant satire.

This does a great job of undermining the 'my people can't be bothered to learn for 4 hours'. In my experience, when this argument overcome, the root argument of "I don't want them spending time that I can't bill to a client" usually comes up. IF only there was a way to learn and bill clients at the same time...some sort of less formal learning...oh well.


Clark Aldrich said...

See, JOE, I am an equal opportunity offender.

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