Lessons in Management & Business from Movies

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on July 20, 2016

Movies are a part and parcel of our lives. Importance of cinema has caught up to us in the last 20-25 years. Cinema fosters the culture, music, languages of a place and is an important medium of providing information to the masses. Not only information but also the learning that is acquired through movies is immensely valuable. There are avid movie lovers, average movie-goers and people who watch movie once in a blue moon. In this piece, The importance of movies in management context is discussed, not just for management graduates, but also for everyone and everything encompassing business.

Management is omnipresent and comprises all aspects of business and there are learnings we gain from everyday examples. In B-schools often the customary way of breaking ice is to gather all for a movie that gives insights into the world of business. 12 Angry Men was one of the first movies that was shown to us in the first week of my B-school life. It’s a movie most of you would have seen, and if you try to understand what the movie depicts you will find that it is an apt example of a movie showing group dynamics, argument pattern, laying forward your opinion and the art of debate. In business world, very often your line of thinking may not converge with what others think. You may have a killer idea but then you have to communicate its value proposition to others as well, who may be thinking in a completely opposite direction. The way you put forward your thoughts, argue in a structured manner and manage to convince others is quite important and is something that can be learnt from this particular movie. For me, it’s definitely a must watch for any MBA grad!

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‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ by Will Smith is another movie which is a must watch for all. It depicts what sheer perseverance and faith in yourself and in your dreams can help you achieve the much coveted success. It is a brilliant movie which shows the importance of not giving up and striving continuously towards your goals with utmost belief. Be it the 2 hard years in a B-school, management or business, there are ups and downs in every aspect. Intense competition, success, failures are the norm and in this context this movie is an ideal watch.

We have movies for entertainment, action, music, fun and then we have ‘Peepli Live’. A story of the hardship of a farmer, suicides, depicted in the largest state of India. It throws light on dirty politics, media, poverty and hardships of farmers. This movie can be useful if you are interested in learning about the business environment and the factors that govern its working and the policies formed to run the same. It has been duly praised by critics for the way the scenes have been depicted and the plot that has been held up in front of us.

Communication skills are as important as managerial skills in today’s business world. Managerial skills on the other hand test how well you manage your resources. ‘Up in the Air’ (George Clooney) gives interesting insights on management, communication skills, Human resources issues and others. It shows how you can be downsized in your business and then work your way through. Corporate downsizing is rampant in this changing times. This movie shows how you can be affected by it through the travels of a ‘downsizer’ (George Clooney). A good watch for anyone getting into the corporate world.

Margin Call, a recent release, is based on the financial crisis of 2007. It shows its initial stages and is cast in a large Investment Bank at Wall Street. You won’t exactly find the nitty gritties of the financial crisis, but the movie shows how a risk management head was downsized while he was working on an important financial assignment, a financial crisis followed , who all got included in the debacle and how and the consequences. It has an important movie from the management context.

‘Pirates of the Silicon Valley’ is a good watch for budding entrepreneurs. This movie depicts how Apple and Microsoft where formed. It depicts the personality of Steve Jobs, rise of Apple, business relationship between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The way their businesses their formed, the rivalry, the depiction of their real lives have been beautifully shown in this movie. It is an interesting watch for business students and entrepreneurs.

There are many other films that are throw valuable insights into the business world and its operations. It is a never–ending list. What makes it important is how our thinking processes are tuned, modified with the insights we gain. They help us in forming an analytical bent of mind and makes us familiar with various situations. Movies are often the depiction of real life incidents and events. So it also increases our knowledge base, thinking ability, critical analysis and other skills. Also you don’t want to be caught ignorant in a meeting where your boss and colleagues are discussing about popular movie events and how they are relevant in the context of the discussion. So it’s better to be prepared!

On a lighter note, amidst all the pressures in a business school or in the world of business, it eases the mind. Taking time off from your work and studies, refreshes your mind and helps you come back with renewed vigor. Films, movies are an art form that has been there for ages and will stay. They also help us learn about various cultures, languages, events; some movies also give us a global perspective and help us broaden our horizon. If we can imbibe the learnings we have from the different movies we watch and learn to apply them in business scenarios, we would become better in tackling various business problems. At the end of the day, there’s a lot we can learn from what is around us. There are ample examples, case studies, dramas, blogs and then movies. The hunger to learn can help us imbibe the lessons these sources teach us and apply them in everyday problems.


This article has been authored by Sourav Saha from IIM Raipur

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