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  • RiverForest Connections

Managing Talent - Organizational Mindset

In 2013 issue of HBSWK Sean Silverthorne declares – “Blockbuster! Why Star Power Works”. Here are few excerpts from his interview with Anita Elberse. “I define a blockbuster strategy as one in which a content producer makes huge investments to acquire, develop, and market concepts with strong hit potential, and then banks on the sales of those titles to make up for the middling performance of their other content. Today's leading film studios, television networks, book publishers, music labels, video game publishers, and producers in other sectors of the entertainment industry live by this approach. You might think that spreading resources evenly across product lines is the safest approach, especially because no one seems to know for sure which products will catch on. Or you might think that making big bets in general is too risky a strategy, and entertainment businesses should vigorously try to save costs in an effort to increase profits. But in my research I have found that betting heavily on the most likely blockbusters and spending considerably less on the "also-rans" is in fact the surest way to lasting success in show business”. Talent management, often is at the mercy of organizational leaders who articulate a need for talent based on their short term business and staffing needs, rather than a long term pipeline building process.


In her book, writes, Anita Elberse, “I show that the biggest investments have the highest average returns. Take the example of film studio Warner Bros. When I analyzed the performance of its films over a five-year period, I found that the studio's 10 percent most expensive films—its so-called tent-pole movies—accounted for roughly a third of its production budget and nearly half of its revenues. There can be big flops, of course, but in general the blockbuster strategy works” just as much for talent stars in the corporate world!”

Anita Elberse elaborates, “Conventional wisdom dictates that the involvement of "star" creative talent is critical to the success of entertainment products. That belief is particularly apparent in the motion picture industry, where some actors and actresses command fees of millions of dollars per movie, and their participation alone can trigger commitments from producers, distributors, and exhibitors. However, evidence of the return on this marketing investment is inconclusive. In this study, I attempt to shed light on the relationship between creative talent and the performance entertainment goods. My empirical analysis, which focuses on the motion picture industry, takes the form of an event study. I assess the impact of over 1,200 casting announcements (covering over 600 stars and nearly 500 movies) on the behavior of participants of a relevant stock market simulation, the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX). The findings provide strong evidence for the hypothesis that the involvement of stars impacts the expected theatrical revenues, and shed light on the determinants of the magnitude of that impact. Furthermore, an extension of the analysis using data on the "real" stock market performance of film studios listed on the NYSE fails to provide evidence for the view that stars increase profitability. I discuss implications for research and practice”.

STARS! A new set of rules for the business of staffing. In the context of Leadership Centers more variables have emerged to counter those of the changing business scenario. The definition of time has changed with ‘flextime’ coming into the picture. Workers are now allowed to choose their working hours in the factory. Work is thus being spread throughout the day and also into the night. Temp, Contract, Staffing, Off Shoring, Part-time jobs are in vogue and so is 24-hours banking. This restructuring of time has its effects on our social schedules on peak hour rush and on pollution levels. High caliber skills in executing a job and working with others are in great demand today, but they are hard to find in the same person. In every corporation, top management is constantly trying to raise the quality of their talent through advanced staffing processes and training programs, but it takes a great deal of perseverance as well as wisdom and resourcefulness on the part of the manager to improve the caliber of her staff.

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