Everything is awesome! Or, what I learnt from the Lego movie

awesome

A 24 hour plane journey from Melbourne to London and a multitude of movies I would otherwise never watch led me to a memorable hour or so watching the new Lego Movie.  A bit of ‘The Matrix’ meets ‘Family Guy’ I thought and all was good. Then, darn it, something started happening. I started thinking that there were messages hidden in this ingenious cartoon creation that I could learn from.

Perhaps it was jetlag but I was getting intrigued. Was this the subtext that I’m told is always submerged for adults only that is apparently part of every feature-length animated movie these days? You tell me.

So if you don’t know the movie, the evil Businessman is trying to ensure that everything stays perfect for ever and that the world works according to his and only his plans.

Mostly Lego world is doing just that until a humble construction worker stumbles upon a great secret that will change the world. He is the chosen ‘Special’ one (getting the matrix metaphor yet?)

Up to now we see an almost automated world where everyone knows where they should be, what they should be doing and what song they should love the most hence: ‘Everything is awesome!’ Yes this song is very annoying but you can’t help singing along! (Try the video and you’ll see…)

So get on with the learnings you say!

1. Being creative does not mean being random and disorganised

As the ‘special’ becomes known to the underground Lego resistance (yes I said that) he gathers together his band of merry men and women and they try to fight the bad guy in their own individual ways which leads to chaos and almost disaster. Teamwork is the answer – creative teamwork.

2. A charismatic leader is not needed

The Special tries his best to be inspirational but as he’s never been much more than ordinary humble construction worker who has always followed the rules he doesn’t know how to be a leader in fact he doesn’t have any real ideas at all. This does not stop them.

3. We are all special.

The lonely guy Emmet (the Special) discovers that he’s sort of not really the special after all. But it doesn’t matter! He’s special in a way no-one else can be and in a way no-one else expected! Go figure!

4. Following the rules is not always bad

Our little anti-hero Emmet (the Special) encourages his gang to fight the badguys with their own rulebook and use  it in their own way, an unexpected tactic which means that they work together as a team and beat the villains at their own game.  This they do to great success.  But they still manage to use their individual skills and creative expression. One even gets to build a spaceship and he is very excited. But I digress.

5. Trying to make everything perfect (or awesome) is not always very much fun or very helpful.

We want to give people enough guidance to work in effective collaboration to achieve positive results but not so much that all freethinking is stifled and they become robots following orders.

6. Help me clarify my objectives, give me a set of tools and some guidelines and let me at it.

A wise advertising man once said: “Give me the freedom of a tight brief” and he wasn’t discussing his underwear. Clarity of goal and methodology is very useful if we allow for individual skills and ideas and if we accept that ideas we wouldn’t have thought of while different are not necessarily wrong and could even be exactly what we needed at that moment.

7. It’s only work right?

When we take it all too seriously it becomes onerous for everyone and no fun at all. When you think we’ll spend 1/3rd of our lives asleep and 1/3rd (or more) at work (I don’t recommend you do them at the same time) it makes sense to make it interesting, engaging and allow for use of our diverse and unique skills.  I mean in that way, everything may actually be awesome! Yay!

 

Thanks for your interest. I’m writing this from the International Fundraising Congress in Holland where I am meeting and hearing from many hugely inspirational people who have to work with incredibly complex rulebooks and still manage to be creative, highly effective and in some cases, very charming. So far no spaceships, but there is time.

Until next time.