Hollywood’s lessons for working with IT on SharePoint

Turns out blood-and-guts director Quentin Tarantino is eager to hear criticism. Steely Captain Kirk and Spock offer lessons in conflict resolution. Can’t you and IT just get along?

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You may or may not feel warm and fuzzy about the gore-is-cool oeuvre of film director Quentin Tarantino, but he has a couple lessons for you and your IT department.

Tarantino has a vision of what he wants to do, says SharePoint expert Jody Rosner, an admitted movie buff. And he is eager to listen.

“He talks to everybody,” says Rosner, an IT Manager and former communications officer for the State of California’s Office of Legislative Counsel. “He literally talks to the lighting person. He talks to the person—I’m not kidding you—getting his coffee. ‘What do you think? What do you think of this?’ ‘Oh, it’s a little gory.’ ‘Well, why?’ And he’s been known, on the set, to reverse direction.”

From Start Trek movies to directing legend D.W. Griffith, Hollywood has lessons for working with IT (and others) on a SharePoint project, Rosner says. It all comes down to communication-and that means listening as well as the “Pulp Fiction” director does.

Here are some tips:

Find out what others think.

We all like to talk about ourselves. And, admit it, we sometimes let our minds wander when they talk. Learn from Tarantino, Rosner says. Don’t blank out. Listen.

“Hearing is a physical process, and listening is a mental one,” he says.

The nice thing, he adds, is that if you sincerely hear what they want to say, they’ll listen to you.

Hold a “read-through.”

Often people won’t tell you what’s really bothering them, Rosner says. But in the movie industry, they create a forum to discuss a project. They gather the writer, director, actors and others together for a script read-through.

Participants ask questions, and an understanding evolves. An actor, Rosner says, might object, “I don’t think my character would say that. I’m going to think of something different. I think they would be mad at this point.”

Another actor says, “If you’re going to be mad, I’m going to do this.”

Don’t work out your differences when the cameras are rolling. “When you roll out SharePoint, everything should be worked out already,” Rosner says.

Learn from Spock and Kirk: Skip the debate.

Captain Kirk: I would not presume to debate you.

Spock: That is wise.

If “Star Trek’s” Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) can work his differences with Spock (Leonard Nimoy) without turning it into a debate, you, too, can sort things out with others in your organization.

If IT tells you, “No way,” try saying, “Huh, that’s interesting that you can’t do that. Can you do this?”

Learn the language.

Napster founder and early Facebook partner Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake in the movie “The Social Network”), was called to the principal’s office in high school because he blew off a counselor’s demand that he enroll in a foreign language class.

According to Rosner, the principal said, “You have to take a foreign language. By state law, I can’t graduate you.”

The computer whiz insisted he was too busy. But he wanted to show the principal the program he had written. Revealing the code behind the project, Parker convinced the principal that it was a foreign language, and got credit for two years.

Learn the language of your own social network. Communicators tend to be sensitive sorts who begin their sentences with “I feel,” Rosner says. IT people tend to say “I think.”

IT is more likely to respond to logic, as when you say, “We’re going to put this in, and this is going to save you time,” Rosner says.

Thank the gang in IT.

Rosner doesn’t offer a film industry example, but how about this famous Hollywood line: “I would like to thank the Academy…”

People typically look at IT as a service. Their job is like that of the electric company: The only time they hear back from others is when the power goes out (or the Internet goes down). Nobody drops by to say they appreciate that the email is working.

“Tell them what you appreciate,” Rosner says. “I’m telling you right now: IT people never get this stuff. It’s amazing. Everybody just overlooks them. They are the basis of everything you’re going to be doing with SharePoint.”


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