The "Law & Order Special Victims Unit" shouldn't have made it beyond the first few episodes.
After all, it deals with the unpleasant and scary subject of sexual crimes. While watching it our minds will envision our own loved ones, as well as ourselves, as possibly those "special victims."
But it has endured 18 seasons. That ability to survive the tough, fickle world of television can teach businesspeople plenty in this Darwinian era of fierce competition.
Here are just some of the lessons.
Be passionate about the job or assignment. The detectives are certainly that. They err on the side of neglecting their personal relationships. When we show employers and clients we authentically care, trust comes. The 2017 Edelman Barometer captured how much trust has plummeted.
Reduce ambiguity. It is clear who are the bad guys. In business, there is plenty of ambiguity. However, we can reduce some of it for clients. That can be as simple as the billing. In specifying an hourly rate, agree to a cap on the number of hours. That is one thing the client knows for sure.
Produce positive outcomes. At the end of each episode, justice has been accomplished. In starting a new job or assignment, don't promise what we can't deliver. That has been the downfall, at least for the time being, of the Trump Administration. Select objectives which can be achieved.
Be human. Part of the aura created in the series is the presence of the department shrink. That function is to help the detectives navigate their humanity while doing a difficult job. Although more of business has become transactional versus relationship, it is useful for that short-term encounter to communicate a bit of our humanity. For example, we leverage social media to let the world in on who we are.
Embrace tough. The detectives leverage whatever tactics they need to catch and convict the bad guys. Likewise, in our business dealings we have to display that we know our field and won't put up with unnecessary nonsense. Respect comes. So does the money. The old version of Professional Nice positions and packages us as out of touch with current realities.
The erudite such as in management consulting and think tanks might turn up their noses at learning from pop culture.
However, as Molly Haskell points out in the 2017 biography "Steven Spielberg," that iconic player in film spent much of his childhood watching television. For Baby Boomers like Spielberg, it was a new medium. Intuitively he got it that there were something big there for him in experiencing the world visually.
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