One of my favorite shows of all time recently came to an end. Sooner than I wanted, but they went out on their own terms and left us wanting more rather than wondering why they were still going, milking the story for more than it was worth (The Simpsons, I’m looking at you). The Good Place, the smartest, dumbest show on TV, gave us a finale that asked more questions than it answered. And the part I loved most about this show is that it kept us guessing through all 4 seasons. The show took risks. And the creator of the show, Michael Schur, kept some pretty big secrets from pretty much everyone. Which is a big no-no in most project planning.
As I was listening to the podcast (which is really a must as it adds so much to the story!) I was thinking about a project I’m getting ready to lead and how I’m working to be sure I have the right people on the team and getting the right buy in before we get started. We want this to be successful, and we all know the secret to a successful project is transparency. In the Good Place, Michael Schur did none of that. I know he didn’t know exactly how he wanted the show to end when he wrote the pilot, but he sure knew how the first season would end. There is a great video of the first season twist being shared with Tahani, Janet, Jason & Chidi. Michael Schur only shared the twist with a select few. And we all know how that usually goes with an HR project!
So I’m listening to the series finale podcast and it hits me. There are probably a few leaders that could lead like Michael Schur and get people to follow. And it all comes down to TRUST. The people working on The Good Place trusted that Michael Schur knew what he was doing because he had been a good leader and a good teammate on past projects (The Office, Parks & Rec). They might not have known exactly where they were going, but they knew he was taking them somewhere good. People wanted to work on the show and didn’t care if they knew the whole story or not. There were so many stories on the podcast of guest stars on the show not knowing ANYTHING about the show but willing to be a part of it because of Michael Schur.
But you can’t be a Mike Schur overnight. It takes time to build those relationships and connections. The time will be worth it.