So, as a preparation for the upcoming new season of Money Heist, I decided to start rewatching the series from the start. It was fun, even though I am quite sure I will not finish all of them before the new season rolls in, judging from my snail pace of progressing at the moment. And along the way, I gathered some lessons on work, life and management, so not really a wasted effort in the end.
Part 1 episode 1:
1. Don’t mix business with personal, and leave your emotions outside the door. It’s never a good idea to mix work and life, especially when you are embarking on an important, high stake, crucial mission. Keep a cool head and avoid being emotional. That way, even when situation turns bad, you will have higher chance of finding a solution. Otherwise, you will either panic, or be overwhelmed by anger, you reasoning will be clouded, and you will likely make knee jerk reactions or stupid decisions (Tokyo shooting at the police is a case in point).
2. Have a plan and devote sufficient time and efforts to understand it thoroughly. The more important the project, the more detailed the plan should be. And the plan should contain not only the happy path but also the failed scenarios and contingency actions. Otherwise, that plan is deemed for failure, since it’s unlikely for the happy path to happen in real life. And the project team should study the plan and understand it properly, especially their own parts, but also the overall direction of the project. That way, they may be more ready to change course when things go wrong and improvisation is needed. It’s like you need to learn to jump before you can fly.
3. Be flexible and adapt the plan based on the situation. As Mike Tyson famously said, everyone has a perfect plan until he is punched on his mouth, a lot of plans crumble when they are put through the acid test of reality. That’s why it’s really important for the team to be flexible and ready to adapt it. It may sound contradicting with the point above, but it is actually complementing that one indeed.
4. The plan maker should be as close to the action as possible. The Professor was having distant and not continuous connection with the team, so he could not get hold of the situation in time. That made it difficult for him to adjust the plan accordingly. Fortunately it did not turn out too badly (both Rio and the cops did not die in the shootout), but it could have been much worse. That’s why Agile project management strongly advocates all the team members to work closely together on a daily basis instead of a traditional top down approach of project planning.
5. Avoid playing the blame game. It’s good to perform a retrospective and identify what went wrong and how to improve in the future, but it’s not helpful to blame each other when things did not work according to the plan. Instead, effort should be spent on remediating the issue at hand. Also, when the situation deviates from the plan, it’s more helpful to identify the issue and work to bring it back under control. The Professor did it, in a calm manner, and the team was not torn apart when Tokyo made her mistake, and the plan continued rolling.
Part 1 episode 2:
Episode 2 was lighter than episode 1 in terms of implications. Instead, it focuseed more on actions and setting the stage, introducing the main actors at play on the opposite side of the chess game. We got the first interaction between The Professor and Raquel, the chief hostage negotiator, and there lied the lessons from the episode:
1. Always keep calm when negotiating. Things almost always turn bad when people start shouting in negotiations. Your negotiator will try to provoke you and manipulate you, to make you lose your calm and expose your weakness. That’s why it’s crucial to stay calm and reason logically. Besides, your negotiator may also try to distract you with seemingly random questions, like what the weather like or what uou wear to work, or just introductions and nonsense pleasantry, so stay on course and focus on what you want to get out from the negotiation. Write down the objectives if you want, and tick them off everytime you achieve one. That will keep you grounded throughout the whole process.
2. Know your opponents, and also the key stakeholders of the game. The reason the Professor managed to win the first battle was he knew who he had at his custody: The lamb. That one key component managed to tip the scale in his favour, and buy him much more time to execute his plan. Without her, the plan would have failed miserably. So, identifying key stakeholders and getting their buy in is one of the most critical part of project planning and execution. That will surely increase the chance of success significantly.
And there they are, the major lessons that I learnt from the first 2 episodes of Money Heist. Not bad for a show that is meant for entertainment, isn’t it? And I believe there are more. So come back again soon, or go ahead and rewatch, and maybe you can find out some lessons for yourself. Happy watching.