Management Lessons from Movies

Apr 10, 2017 3 MIN

Management Lessons from Movies


Had the pleasure of hanging out with my longtime friend Gokul last evening. We were chatting about his book “Management Lessons from Movies” and I was  excited to get a signed copy from him. It is a quick read and I really enjoyed it. I was surprised to find that I had seen 20 of the 33 movies he refers to in his book – not being as big a movie buff as Gokul – he sees on an average 230 movies in a year across most Indian and world languages!

I have created a IMDb List for those interested in checking out these movies. The average IMDb rating is 8.25 for the movies and so a good collection. Gokul has classified these movies into 25+ categories such as the few listed below and in each category he has listed at least 4 movies (in addition the movie he reviewed) and so in all there are more than 100 good movies to checkout from the book. Some of the more fascinating categories that I plan to check out (Can you guess which movie belongs to which category from the above IMDb list?):

  1. Reverse Chronology
  2. Parallel Universe
  3. Time-loop
  4. Docu-fiction
  5. Hyperlink Cinema

And a handful of takeaways from the book that I found particularly relevant to startups – listing a few of them here so that you can checkout the rest in the book directly.

  • Sky is the limit (Forrest Gump)In the book, Gokul quotes how Forrest keeps stretching his goals while running “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama”. The same applies to startups – first you focus on getting one customer, then ten, then a hundred and the good ones just keep scaling – and there are challenges all along the way, which you take it in your stride.
  • Managing with Limited Resources (Children of Heaven, Persian; Taxi, Persian; The Birds, English) – There are multiple examples of managing ones meager resources and this is a theme across three movies at least – its either the protagonists managing meager resources (Children of Heaven) or the director making the most of his limited resources (Taxi). It goes without saying, startup journey is all about making the most from very limited resources of time, money and talent.
  • Know your team’s strength (Lagaan) – One of the few Indian entrants in the book, it talks about how the protagonist builds a strong team with a handful of riff raffs just by identifying special skills that each of them possess. Goes without saying how applicable this is to startup leaders.
  • Small Joys Matter (Amelie, French; Lagaan, Hindi) – In this busy world, we don’t end up celebrating small successes as much as we should – this is well highlighted in these two movies and very relevant for most of us reading this blog and in particular startups that are always running at light speed with very little time to stop and celebrate the small victories.

There are 100 such takeaways in this small but very delightful book. Hope you get a chance to check it out and maybe the movie buff in you will spot a movie and a lesson that Gokul missed. If so, do highlight it here in the comments.

Note: Blog also posted here