“I know what to do.” These simple words can be used to twist an entire situation. The animated movie ‘Finding Nemo’ was a blockbuster experience indeed, however when I watched this with my daughter, little did I know that I would be privy to one of the greatest corporate lessons ever taught.
In the final and very dramatic scene when the clown fish father locates his son Nemo after travelling the vast ocean with a solitary accomplice, the pleasantries they share are disrupted by a fishing net which plunges in to the deep ocean and captures a fleet of fish.
As the fish yell out hopeless cries, the father notices that the accomplice who served him well throughout his voyage is now squashed in the midst of the inmates held in the net. The father cries out helplessly but Nemo the kid fish says, “I know what to do.”
In the global business environment many find it safer to give in to convention just like the fish captured in the net gave up on life. And you need a Nemo to stand up from the crowd and fight against the tides. Through his own experience Nemo knew how to save Dory. But his first task was to convince his father who had just found him to let go.
The father had to first believe and to ensure this Nemo played an “emotional trick”. Nemo doesn’t only tell his father that he knows what to do, he stresses that he knows how to save the father’s friend. In the corporate world “friends” are the stakeholders, employees and anyone who seeks to benefit from the prosperity of the government.
To put it into perceptive, Nemo the new or the young executive convinced his father the management that he knows how to save his friend or the company. If an executive makes such a bold statement, he will be followed by a trail of whispers and likewise Nemo met with a group of citizens who could barely hear him over their hopelessness.
But our tiny fish never faltered and he yells out the command “swim down”. He urges and commands those etched in to the system to break away from the chains of convention. The first command reached the ears of a very few and was not quite a success. But Nemo’s consistent command finally got through to those trapped in convention only when Nemo himself dived into the situation.
The father now joins his son’s cries and commands the fish to swim down as well. This cry elucidates that the management has complete faith in the daring executive and the rest have no cause to question. When everybody believed and did their bit to the best, the breakthrough solution emerged.
What is then the take away?
a. For the new recruits, apply your little life experience to work, as you never know how it can change the course of the company, and your careers.
b. Let know what is in it for the key person in the department or the company.
c. Even if you are ignored, keep shouting.
d. Ignore experience for it gives old solutions to new problems.
Every time we employ someone new to our corporations we introduce a Nemo to the conventional system. However, instead of allowing him to innovate, we bombard the individual with existing procedures and eventually kill the spark within.
The fish listened to Nemo out of desperation. However, would they readily accept his idea if they were in control of the situation? Would the father have allowed his son to dive into the depths of risk if he was in control of the circumstance? We find it difficult to listen to the newcomer, but we must do so or how will we adopt a new method to swim against the tide.
The song ‘Kolaveri Di’ took the entertainment industry by storm with one million YouTube hits in only a matter of days. I was shocked to hear this song being aired at the duty free shopping complex in Dubai. The song breaks away from convention. The lyrics stick to no format which currently exists and the music is unique. But it is clear that this is what the world wants.
Whenever you recruit someone new, do not bombard him with what not to do, instead open up the minds to find new ways to take the company to its desired destination. What managers need to do is to find Nemo and step out of his way. Would you dare?
(The writer is Regional Director – Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.)