9 awesome learning points from ‘Can video drama change workplace culture?’ 

To mark the launch of our new service Drama for Change, we held a one-hour webinar in which Tom Hickmore and Georgia Rooney addressed the question ‘Can video drama change workplace culture?’ You can watch the full webinar here:

Here is a handy summary of the 9 key learning points from the session:

  1. There are many examples from the worlds of film, TV and advertising that illustrate the tangible impact of media on attitudes and behaviour in society. Examples include the original Top Gun movie, which was made with the support and approval of the US Navy. Applications to enlist in the US Navy went up by 500% after the release of the film. 
  2. Drama creates active engagement. Drama’s greatest strength is to get people thinking actively about a problem.  A well-constructed scenario draws you in.  Quickly it introduces a few characters and their world – and immerses them into a challenging situation.  Without really being aware of it, the viewer thinks “what would I do in that situation?”
  3. Drama has far more potential if it is seen as the starting point, and a wider learning campaign is built around it. It’s not uncommon to use drama to address a cultural issue. However, it’s often the case that the drama is a secondary thought – an additional piece of content in a wider programme. 
  4. Choose your ground. This is the first of five principles, developed by Tom Hickmore, that need to be met in order to create effective ‘Drama for Change’. Choose your ground means determining from the outset that your problem is behavioural and / or cultural and identifying elements with dramatic potential. 
  5. Respect your audience. This is the second principle. If you are going to use a sophisticated medium like drama, it’s key to understand that it’s all about the audience. Drama isn’t any good at telling people what to do, but it’s extraordinarily good at asking people what they would do in a situation. The drama should be constructed around the issues posed by your audience, it should then dramatize those issues, and the audience should be the ones to tell you how to solve the problems.
  6. Be fearless – explore the grey. Conflict and confusion need to be minimised ‘at work’, but they make great drama. Here you are being asked to not flinch from looking at the hard reality of what is going on in your organisation. If your ‘Drama for Change’ campaign is going to be meaningful, it needs to address the real issues, challenges and conflicts. There is often fear of causing offence by addressing intimate subject matter. In fact, the opposite is true. If done with respect, your staff / audience will appreciate the opportunity to open up about what matters.
  7. Trust the process. “Drama”, as Alfred Hitchcock remarked, “is life with the dull bits cut out”. It provides a method for taking intimate and difficult issues and compressing them into a convincing but heightened form. When we watch a drama, we don’t actually expect it to be realistic, but we do expect it to reflect our real feelings and concerns. Corporate drama is often made with the mistaken assumption that if you don’t make it as banal as the average working day it will be unconvincing. Instead, you need to take an everyday issue and push it to the extreme.    
  8. Listen, learn and leverage. The fifth and final principle to create an impactful ‘Drama for Change’ campaign is to listen learn and leverage. All of that effort in producing drama content and campaign assets that are pertinent to the issues at hand and highly engaging for your audience is going to create conversation and feedback – you want to capture this and your organisation needs to learn from it. 
  9. Design a campaign with external support. An effective campaign involves digging deep with the people in your organisation. This will require research methods that are ethical and that protect the privacy of those consulted with. This is the best way to generate honest answers that will inform the drama content as well as the future recommendations generated from the ‘Drama for Change’ campaign. Nice have a structured approach ready to share with any interested parties.  

If you have a workplace behavioural / cultural issue that you suspect will benefit from a ‘Drama for Change’ campaign get in touch for a no obligation chat. 

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