July 6; Tell a Story On ‘Why We Work’
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Seven: Power; 6 July

So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”

Matthew 13:35

Tell a Story On ‘Why We Work’

Influenced

General George Marshall knew his country and countrymen well. He was bringing men who were drafted into the army during World War II and was molding them into a cohesive organization with a will to win.

The country in the early 1940s was divided about international involvement. Not all draftees were excited about serving. They came from different ideologies and backgrounds and regions. And the American male is not a compliant creature.

How did Marshall move them?

Marshall insisted that the young men and the mothers who sent them, have the war explained to them. He knew that the nation could not be dictated or lectured – people would have to be persuaded with a compelling argument.

Who did Marshall enlist, so to say, to sell the war?

Hollywood.

Frank Capra, who actually did enlist in the Army, offered his services. Capra was already known for his work in the Academy Award winning Mr. Smith Goes To Washington in 1939. Wearing an army uniform, he would direct a series of seven films on Why We Fight commissioned by the US government to educate the Army’s recruits. Disney did the animation of the maps.

It is often said that we live today in the sight and sound generation. But images, especially those that move with an audio accompaniment, are the most convincing in any age. This was important. General Marshall put Capra in an office near to his own. A Colonel explained to the creative genius,

You were the answer to the General’s prayer. . . You see, Frank, this idea about films to explain “Why” the boys are in uniform is General Marshall’s own baby, and he wants the nursery right next to his Chief of Staff’s office…

Leaders will use the tools of persuasion and must know what they are. And what they are not. Management has four well-known principle parts: plan, organize, lead and control. The verb ‘to lead’ is thought by amateurs to be the command component of managing where orders are barked out and then instantly obeyed by compliant subordinates.

This is a fantasy. And Marshall knew it. This is what made Capra’s work in story telling vital to the war effort.

The Frank Capra films were broadcasted in the medium of the day, movie theaters, to a nation hungry for news. The influence and magic of the motion picture industry rallied the nation to war. The first film, Prelude to War, earned an Academy Award in 1943 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Documentary film.

General Marshall understood the American soldier of the 1940’s just as outstanding managers understand the company employee of today’s generation. The individual contributor, a soldier with a weapon, or the carpenter with nail gun or knowledge worker on a keyboard are each motivated in the same way. They all, indeed all of us, are stimulated best–not when externally coerced by outside pressures–but when internally driven to deliver. Marshall and Capra captured this internal drive and motivated millions in Why We Fight.

Today’s manager best exercises influence in ‘Why We Work’ by telling a story.

So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” Matthew 13:35.

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