When Method Meets Methodology: An Actor’s Insight into Leadership in Project Transformation

Quay recently brought business leaders and one of Australia’s most highly regarded actors together for an exploration of what it means to lead transformation in the not-for-profit space and what parallels if any exist between the project world and the silver screen.

 You’ve probably seen his face and thought, “I know that guy.” And if you saw his performance in Paper Giants, then you’ll know the indomitable talent of actor, writer, producer, and director, Rob Carlton. Oh and in his spare time he surfs too.

And such is his gift for storytelling that Rob engaged more than 20 not-for-profit leaders over a two-hour lunchtime session taking them through the challenges that come with leading and delivering transformation – or in his world quality movies and TV programs – when faced with ambiguity, working with often minimal budgets and faced with the realities of getting the job done with deadlines that won’t shift.

Quay co-founders Rod Adams and Michael Bolton had heard about Rob’s presentation and recognised the parallel struggles that often co-exist between the arts and the not-for-profit space, as well as in delivering projects and transformations in general.

“We have seen how hard it can be for many NFPs to get projects off the ground much less lead their organisations through major transformation. Rob’s insights into the similar struggles when making television and films seems a natural inflection point between the two worlds with many parallels” said Rod.

“Rob gave the room a very dynamic view of what it takes to deliver quality, particularly with limited budgets and other constraints. HHis key message was you must have a vision and this vison must be shared with the team around you, who should be then allowed (even encouraged) to interpret it in their way. By sharing it in this way you help empower the team and thus unlock their potential. This willingness to allow others to add to the vision, have rope enough to fail, and that ability to learn from failure will ultimately lead to a better outcome. These were all elements that NFPs can relate to. ”

As a jobbing actor, Rob understood that the keys to success in the Australian film industry was making the leap to producer. He also recognised early that it wouldn’t be easy to bring it all together without the right people on board.

In leading the audience through the risks, the opportunities, and the tough conversations that come with delivering a film, his ability to engage the audience through storytelling proved to be a refreshing approach to underscoring the importance of effective leadership.

Michael also saw the benefits of the storytelling approach.

“There’s a lot to be said about this approach to encouraging the audience to be part of the story.

“His approach to exploring how a script comes off the page and onto the screen is a powerful way to illustrate the challenges and enable the group to recognise their own struggles with culture, skill gaps, and sustaining creativity when faced with real financial limits.”

The ultimate take away was that whilst the NFP space and the film Industry are very different, there is always things that can be learned off each other – even from Australia’s best Kerry Packer. Well, since the original one anyway. 

To find out more about joining us for a future session with Rob or to discuss how to engage Rob to work with your team, contact us on 02 9098 6300.

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Quay Consulting
Quay Consulting is a professional services business specialising in the project landscape, transforming strategy into fit-for-purpose delivery. Meet our team ...

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