New Manager

Drama in the corporate world

S Johnson | Updated on March 09, 2018

All the World is a Stage (Drama and its evidence in the Corporate World)Productivity & Quality Publishing Private LimitedPrice: Rs.350

Drama can make a unique contribution to the holistic development of an individual. It explores feelings, ideas and knowledge of one’s self, therefore leading to self-realisation. Drama, as a form of communication and self-expression, teaches cooperation, empathy, responsibility, builds confidence and self-esteem, refines presentation skills, and encourages acceptance of others and self along with management and organisational skills.

TT Srinath's new book All the World is a Stage starts on a philosophical note. Drama is apparent in every walk of life or as one of Annamacharya’s Telugu keerthana says: “ Nanati Batuku Natakamu” (this day to day life is Drama).

Each chapter unfolds like a different scene in a drama, with the curtain raising, a concept enacted with perfect blend of storyline, suspense, dialogues, humour and lessons for life and with the learning the curtain comes down. The author draws from his rich experiences in facilitating workshops, social interactions, consultations held in different organisations, his theatrical experience, to drive home powerful lessons.

Below the surface

When two or more people get together in any social setting, there is likely to be Drama present. Meetings being an inherent part of any organisation, each manager attends at least one meeting every day. Communication is through presentations, proposals and conversations, but then there are many things left unsaid. Glances exchanged, looking at the mobile, restlessness, using laptop, inactive participation, leaving the room are some of the evident behaviours in the organizational set-up analysed by the author in his book.

Training methodology

Preparing people to face life, to cope less painfully, to trust the process of living is the basis of any training and Drama is an ideal tool for such a process.

Organisations use different methods such as lecture methods, discussion method, case studies, e-learning and the like for training people to enhance their knowledge and skills. One such method is Drama as it is an appropriate tool when working with adults. Drama is inherent in all human interaction and its use as a tool for self-expression and empowerment reaches the crevices of the mind and soul, rarely impacted by other techniques. Drama is interplay of body, mind and soul. Drama excites spontaneity, creativity, widens role repertoire and brings vitality and playfulness. Drama combines words, feelings and emotions; it is the blend of body, mind and emotion plus the drawing upon all senses, such as visual, auditory, kinesthetic and digital. Drama helps an individual experience the situation, for it employs all his or her faculties in assessing and deciding how he or she can respond.

Drama techniques in organizational training have been used extensively in the areas of Personal Effectiveness, Communication, Leadership, Dealing with change, Energizing and Motivation and Team interaction and bonding.

Wearing of masks and their role

In an organizational setting, individuals sometimes are forced to wear a “mask”; a mask of correctness, of appropriateness and effective functioning. Thus they get so used to wearing “masks” for self-preservation that disclosure of who they are becomes an issue. Sheldon Kopp, a famous author, in his book ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him’ says, “I have worn a mask for so long that if I take it off, I am afraid, my face might come off”. It is such for many people in organization and even in life!


The word dialogue first evolved through drama as it is the very basis for interaction. It unfolds the interplay of relationships between characters as they communicate with the audience both verbally and non-verbally. One of the techniques that an actor learns through practice is dialogue delivery. Clarity, timing, pause, tone of voice, loudness, clarity, emphasis are some of the many intricate aspects of dialogue delivery an actor has to learn in order to have an impact on the audience.

In organissations too dialogue happens, especially when a bunch of individuals interact. In Drama, a character is encouraged to complete what he or she is saying before the other responds, unless it is so structured that one must interrupt the other for dramatic effect. A similar process also happens in organisations, however most often one person’s talking is interrupted by another. While dialogue is employed consciously in an organization setting, it requires for one to listen before responding.

Living in the now

Drama is one of the few mediums where a person has to necessarily live in the “now”. There is no past to his performance nor is there a future. What an actor does on the “now” on stage, is the only truth. An actor cannot say that “I did well yesterday” or that “I will do well tomorrow”. An actor is only as good as his current performance. One can draw parallel to the corporate world from this aspect of Drama. The performance of the past nor the potential to perform well in the future matters; but the performance in the ‘now” is most vital.

Giving or Giving-In

In Drama actors “give” audience an experience by convincingly playing their roles, in a way that the audiences don’t see the role but only the character the actors play. Giving is a part of our daily living, an important part of relating to others. We give people a book, a glance, a meal, a ride etc. At an emotional level we may give ourselves to them. Such giving experiences who we are, what we think and what we feel. In close relationships, emotional giving becomes intense and is an intricate part of relating. It involves not only a deeper sharing but also a deeper level of commitment.

In Organisations, when a person unwillingly performs a role and therefore “gives in” he cannot be effective in that role and it will never add value to himself or people around him. When we give in we may do so out of fear. Thus, giving in has a flavour totally different from the willingness and conviction of giving. “Giving in” sabotages intimacy and leads to false and superficial closeness. It may solve a problem temporarily but in the long run such peace and conformity only creates emotional conflict and thwarts relationships.

Importance of being uncertain

Suspense is a state of feeling excited or anxious when there is uncertainty and lack of knowledge about what may happen. Keeping audience in suspense is an element of drama and audience like to experience suspense in drama. There cannot be a movie without any suspense apart from the other usual elements.

As an organization consultant, the author mentions that he is often invited with the brief that there is no team work; alignment is lacking; ownership is not being demonstrated; there is poor accountability; reliability is inconsistent and the list goes on. The author infers that the relative truth is that we live in a world that is largely unstructured, unpredictable, whimsical and quixotic. Given this belief and assumption, leaders may help themselves and those they oversee and guide by factoring in the ability to cope with uncertainty and ambiguity. By building into their armory resilience and tolerance for ambiguity, they will become less “restless”.

In many ways, thus, organizations need leaders to learn to live with uncertainty, celebrate and embrace it and thereby, encourage them to keep their temper on ice.

What is in it for me?

In drama, the actors derives his motivation by expecting and anticipating how he is going to impact the audience. The applause by the audience and a review in the local newspaper is the reward that an actor receives at the end of a play.

Research, supported by psychology, has shown that every human being looks for personal gain, material or otherwise, for meaning and purpose when he has to commit himself.

The author concludes by stating that what is required is for the organisations to build into their education what the employees’ contribution means. He feels that there are several ways this can be thought through. Perhaps, it is time for organisations to appoint a “Chief Belief Officer” as the Future Group has done-one who believes in people and helps find ways to give them reasons to own the organization.

The book is a must read for every trainer, all corporate professionals and any individual who wants an insight into the corporate world. Reading the book does give a feel of watching the life drama enacted before your eyes. In short, the moment you transact with anyone or within yourself, be aware or be-aware that a drama has already unfolded!

The book does confirm and reinforces that:

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances.

“As you like it”, Act II, Scene VII

(The writer S. Johnson, is Senior Manager- Human Resources, The Hindu Group of Publications, Chennai ).

Published on December 24, 2015

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