Key takeaways

  • Encouraging open communication often drives business strategy forward.
  • Your response will ultimately determine how your brand is perceived, regardless of the situation.
  • Holding up or delaying a project in order to deliver optimal results, can serve to enhance your vision and galvanise your team.

In a recent article ‘The Turnaround that Kept Spiderman on Broadway‘ published by the Harvard Business Review, authors Joe Frontiera and Dan Leidl highlight four key strategies that the producers of the broadway play Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark employed in order to keep the production going and in the end make it a success.

Why is this relevant to me you ask? Although this example may not be specific to a corporate setting, the strategies which ‘saved the show’ are outlined below and adapted to be reflective of how they are applicable within a corporate context:

  • Working together – Co-leading producers Jere Harris and Michael Cohl (both incredibly experienced and accomplished) managed to share the spotlight and push egos aside in order to work through the show’s early troubles. Although an unspoken issue in large organisations, the elements of tradition, personal ego, along with internal and external politics are often contributing factors to the reason projects stall, deals fall through and/or businesses fail. Where traditional corporate etiquette is to sweep these issues under the rug is it ultimately to the detriment of the broader business?
  • Ignore the outside noise – Adding to their pressure, Mr Harris and Mr Cohl were also faced with a barrage of bad press about their seeming ‘impending failure’. Rather than go into panic mode, both producers were spurred to take action and fix the mistakes rather than continue on the path to failure. All too often the addage of ‘all publicity is good publicity’ is heresy within the world of business, especially with the advent of numerous instantaneous communication channels (e.g. email, social media, etc). While there have been a plethora of examples of social media nightmares (particularly within the consumer-driven retail sector) – often it is not the mistake, but rather the reaction and response to it that is the cause for damage to a brand. This culture of ‘living in fear’ of potential bad press and brand damage also has the potential to hinder business development and innovation.
  • Listen to the customer – In order to combat potential failure, the co-producers halted production in order to revise the the show based on feedback received from focus groups. The fast paced nature of the digital economy, often results in pressure from both internal and external markets to implement now, and it’s often hard for businesses to slow down and assess what technologies are right for both themselves and their customers. This is particularly relevant to social media channels, where many companies have jumped on the bandwagon without really understanding  how these channels work, what benefit they offer to their businesses and how they need to be managed. As demonstrated by Mr Harris and Mr Cohl, delaying and/or holding off a project to obtain quality insights or actually engage with key stakeholders for their input can pay off in dividends in the long term.
  • Stay imaginative – The scale and sensation of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was beyond anything previously attempted on Broadway and ultimately it was the drive to realise this innovative vision that drove the success of the show. Similarly it is this commitment that needs to drive change within a business in order to transform within a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive digital landscape. Where audiences, whether B2B, B2C, internal or external, are saturated with products and services, it those businesses that not only have the ability to think outside the box, but see through these innovations to completion that will survive.


Contributor Placeholder


Nirosha Methananda

With a marketing and communications background, Nirosha is the former marketing lead for PwC’s Technology Consulting services.

More About Nirosha Methananda