True Measures: Night at the Museum Edition

June 1, 2009

I was nearly the last person in the U.S. to see Night at the Museum.  Very entertaining.  I saw an interesting true measure at the end.

Spoiler alert:  If you haven’t seen it yet, what I write below gives some of the ending away.  But, since I was the last guy to see it, I’m not worried.

At the end of the movie, the director of the money-losing museum sees the news reports of the overnight antics around the museum and promptly fires Ben Stiller’s character, the night watchman. 

Ben and the museum director leave his office and walk into the museum’s foyer which is full of people drawn by the news reports.  The musuem director promptly returns Ben’s character to duty after seeing the impact the free and interesting publicity had on attendance.

The museum director was confronted with a true measure and made a good choice.  He didn’t like the way Ben’s character did his job, but it appeared to be working for the benefit of the museum.  As director he had financial responsibility for the museum and overcame his personal dislike for the good of the museum.  Despite the museum director’s unlikeable portrayal, this was a good sign the right man had the job.  Great ending for Hollywood.

In the real world true measures are rarely as visible (e.g. people visiting the museum) and too often personal preference gets in the way of a good choice. In my career, many times I’ve seen leaders let valuable people leave because they couldn’t overcome their personal preferences, or maybe they couldn’t see the correct true measures

Either way, I haven’t seen any of the leaders who let that happen achieve great success in terms of typical business true measures such as business expansion.  Such people are typically skilled at politicking their way to status and obfuscating their own true measures, until they’re found out.

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