Sometimes it's believed that business, or science ( or the business of science), takes a lot of education. I am here to tell you, my friends, the only education you need can be found in one easy location, it only takes 94 minutes of your time, and I am giving you this secret to you for free: it's the Weird Science DVD.
Sure, on the exterior it may look like just another 1980s John Hughes rite-of-passage comedy, but that's the beauty of a parable. It makes you think one thing while it head-fakes you with important business lessons.
Whenever I walk into a company I immediately look around and try to figure out what makes each person tick. Imagine my surprise when I watched this movie and realized I didn't need to overthink it any more, it was all right there on celluloid - well, polycrystalline in this case. I can now compartmentalize everyone I know into a few easy-to-remember categories. Before I get comments telling me not to pigeon-hole people, I will go ahead and drone "we're individuals ... and unique ... all 6 billion of us," though I don't believe a word of it.
What we are is an archetype with some subtle variations. Pepperoni Pizza is different than Canadian Bacon Pizza but it's still pizza with meat thrown on it. Knowing this, and the sage wisdom John Hughes delivers in this movie, will take you pretty far in the corporate world.
First things first, when you walk in to run your company, is to figure out the cast. So I made this handy picture ------>
There may be slight variations on these personalities, but not by much. I left out Hilly, for example, because she's really just Deb, only as a brunette and therefore extraneous. Not because we don't need more Debs, but because we need fewer brunettes.
Let's talk about Lisa first, even though she isn't the star of your company. Lisa is your product. You want her to be sexy, you want her to do what you want, and you want people to be impressed by what she offers. The problem with Lisa is, once she is out of your hands, weird stuff can happen. Make sure you know Lisa inside and out before she leaves your sight.
Gary is your ambitious type. He's not the smartest, he's not the best in anything, really, but he is the one most likely to get weird stuff done when you need it done. Gary is a facilitator. 90% of the people who read this will think they are Gary. What 50% of the people who think they are Gary really are is ...
Wyatt, and that's not an insult. Wyatt is a mile deep and a yard wide in his abilities. The world does not run without Wyatt. Without Wyatt at the keyboard there is no Weird Science but Wyatt is motivated by something most people don't understand; Wyatt wants to create Lisa, not date her. And he'll never be happy with her. Get to know your Wyatts and reward them accordingly. Note: obviously Wyatt doesn't have to be a boy. You can see in this picture he could go either way.
Chet likes to make Gary and Wyatt miserable. He serves you best outside the office. Lisa doesn't give a crap about him while Gary and Wyatt pretend to hate him but they secretly want to be more like him. He's probably your sales guy. Unfortunately for Gary and Wyatt, they cannot turn him into Jabba The Hutt, like in the movie.
Deb is what motivates your Gary's and Wyatt's once they realize there is no perfect Lisa. She is settling for what she has right now even if she is quietly disaffected with it. The Debs of your company tend to achieve to the level of the people around them. Deb is the backbone of your company because she is the catalyst for the weirdness that Lisa will bring. Without a Deb, no one is happy. She's probably from Texas.
Ian and Max I don't even bother to separate because they're foils for Gary and Wyatt. They're always together and they probably drink a lot of the free coffee and talk about you behind your back. Your Debs were probably hanging out too much with these guys, which is why they had to bring you in to run the company.
The Lord General thinks he should have your job. He is a little reckless, even to a point of risking getting whacked to try and create a culture of destruction that probably helped cause the failure of the guy you replaced. More businesses are ruined by this guy than competitors. So he has no value, right? Not so. It is unlikely you will get him on your side but when you get the rest of the cast on your side his presence will make the Gary's and Wyatt's go from role-players to stars. Conflict isn't always bad; remember that saying about how 30 years of Borgia poisoning, murder and deceit gave us the Renaissance while 500 years of Swiss peace only gave us the cuckoo clock.
The mutant biker is the example that will motivate everyone else because you're going to take him down quickly. First, because he's an anarchist who is used by the Lord General and, second, because you can replace him within minutes. It's never a bad thing to whack someone right away when you take over. It often helps, in movies, in science and in business, if you come across as someone who will pull the trigger on the bad guys.
There you go. Now get thee to Amazon, buy this movie and use my handy key guide to put the pieces together and run your own company. That John Hughes sure knew his stuff in this film, didn't he? Just try getting business lessons out of Ferris Bueller.
And until you run your own company, the next time you see weird stuff happening at the place you are, ask yourself which cast member you are being.