March 05, 2012

BOMM business lessons


Eduardo Braniff has discovered that pretty much everything anyone needs to know about business (and life) can be gleaned from The Book Of Mormon Musical, which he helpfully sums up in the this short Fast Company article.

1. Taboos Shall Set You Free: [E]xperiences that afford us new behaviors and engender new beliefs are the ones we remember. So rather than preach the gospel, let's preach the forbidden.

Keep in mind the context. There are two problems with applying this too broadly. The first is to embrace heresy for the sake of heresy ("I offend, therefore I am"). The other is being unique for the sake of being unique, an idea that David Goldman argues has had "cataclysmic consequences in the arts."

2. Let the Philistines Past the Gate: I firmly believe that only an outsider would have been able to pull off The Book of Mormon on Broadway, and I'm not talking an off-off-off-Broadway outsider.

Not just a Broadway outsider, a non-Mormon. This goes back to 1. When Mormons (or adherents of any stripe) dip their toes into heresy, the temptation is to beat a particular dead horse with Too Much Information. Or contrariwise, to completely miss the forest for the trees.

The most problematic taboos are the ones that evolve in an organization without anybody knowing why, without anybody questioning why. But because adherence to them signals loyalty to the organization, they're treated more seriously than commandments from on high.

3. The Gospel According to Anyone: As much as we read about values-based corporate and brand cultures, it's shocking how slow enterprises have been to define and live by their own gospels. No matter where or what, people want to believe.

Enterprises? It's shocking how slow churches are to define and live by their own gospels (you can't be held to your word if nobody knows what it is), or how willing they are to kick their gospels to the curb when they become inconvenient.

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