This is a splendid management narrative of a (value) chain of command: a tv Network Controller, emails a Director (his boss) that a Chief Creative Officer (the producer) has doctored footage to give a misleading impression. Worse, and typically ‘creative’, he has made much media capital by blagging it. However, the Director doesn’t read the email as she is too busy asking other producers if they have any skeletons in their cupboards.
What should a manager do in this situation? Ignore, nod and wink (like here) or use leadership behaviour to front up, admit, and transform the agenda -even if this means drawing attention to the production process itself, rather than the ‘content’, a scowling crown.
So when some (so far) of these managers eventually do resign, rather than ask what values does ‘management’ add, the concerns expressed are that BBC ‘witch hunts risk stifling creativity'. (Observer). In this instance, we should ask what ‘creativity’?
A really creative response could have been: (i) to fawn less and ask what relevance a tired institution, (or photo) has to modern life or (ii) to recognise that creativity is ‘appropriate novelty’ which doesn’t function independent of the ethics, integrity and critical thinking but as well as. Just as careless sub-prime lending is poor business so is sub-prime creativity.
There have been reversed narratives before at the BBC, with far more damaging consequences -though few enough noticed it. In 1984, BBC news reversed the order of events at Orgreave, when it depicted striking miners (‘the enemy within’) chucking bricks at mounted police. An individual producer admitted this, more or less privately…in 1991. (Thanks for this, Simon Pirani)
As learndontlearn hopes to illustrate, real creativity transforms. It uses risk to ‘turn things around’. And challenges manipulated voicelessness.
So where does that leave ‘management’? For what a good manager should do see Simon Caulkin Now wouldn’t it be great to sit in on a course he’d run for BBC managers …