The Sharknado Effect—Why Crazy Ideas Succeed
Sometimes, the best things come out of left field
Every once in a while, time on social media can be a revelation. No, not about your lifelong friends’ views for or against President Trump, but something that can really make a difference in your life (although those political posts can be … interesting these days!).
And so, just the other day, I had one such experience. As a management consultant and professor myself, I can safely say that one could pay a highly-priced corporate advisor or an individual career coach many, many dollars for such sage advice as I found in my friend’s simple share of a church sign (a subgenre of Facebook posts that is becoming almost, but not quite, as popular as funny cat videos).
Clearly, this clever pastor (or whoever had the job of putting the message on their sign) was referencing the movie—or rather, now, the whole series—“Sharknado.” And yes, somewhere in a production office in Hollywood for the Syfy Channel (part of the Comcast entertainment empire), someone had the bravery to speak up and pitch either an existing script or just an idea about making a real movie that cost real money with this premise. And the rest, my friends, is history.
Sure it was laughable, but in the end, the tornado full of sharks became a cultural phenomenon, and even with the film industry’s notoriously creative accounting, I am certain that the six Sharknado movies (yes, you read right!) have produced some kind of sizable ROI for those behind the films based on an implausible but no doubt effective concept!
What I call the Sharknado Effect is something that we should all consider the next time we’re in — or in charge of — one of “those” meetings where we ask for and, yes, need everyone’s input and ideas. One thing that I know as a management “expert” is that the best ideas almost never get out there in a group setting.
Oftentimes, individuals are afraid to express their thoughts, thinking they’ll be laughed at, or worse. They’re intimidated. They’re shy. They’re insecure. They’re afraid of how those around them will react. They’re afraid that speaking up at all and offering that particular idea might be job- or even career-risking. And so they sit passively. Yes, someone else may express the same idea or something similar, and either get the glory or be shot down (figuratively, we hope!). But for that individual, the moment—and the opportunity—is lost.
And yes, we all know the meeting leader’s plight. As a boss, you might well intimidate people into not wanting to talk, intentionally or not. You may be “that person” who holds meetings for input, but doesn’t genuinely want any—and that inevitably shows! If you’re the person tapped to lead a project and run things, you may worry how your peers will react to you suddenly being in charge, as well as maybe being a bit gun shy (we can still use that term today, right?) about taking chances based on what might be riding on the success of the marketing campaign, product launch, or redesign effort that you’re heading. And if you are an outside facilitator, people may simply not connect with you for a multitude of complex and often undefinable reasons. Sometimes those connections are there, and sometimes, well, they just aren’t.
So the next time you have a meeting, remind everyone of the “Sharknado Effect”: as this movie series shows, there really, really isn’t a bad or dumb or implausible idea. And the next time you go into a meeting, remind yourself about the Sharknado idea that someone actually had the courage to say out loud.
In the end, all of us could benefit from constantly trying to be innovative in our jobs and careers by keeping the Sharknado Effect at the top of our minds. You simply never know in life what could be your—or your company’s—Sharknado moment! So encourage new ideas and thinking. And by all means, speak up yourself and encourage others to do so! In short, the Sharknado Effect could pay off for you—“bigly!”
As a postscript, if you want to stump your friends at a trivia night or win a bar bet on the question, “Can you name the titles of the Six Sharknado movies?” here’s the list and their brief plot descriptions from the IMDB site:
- Sharknado (2013) (“When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace.”)
- Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) (“Fin and April are on their way to New York City, until a category seven hurricane spawns heavy rain, storm surges, and deadly Sharknadoes.”)
- Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015) (“A monstrous tornado unleashes ravenous sharks from Washington, D.C., all the way down to Orlando, Florida.”)
- Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016) (“Fin, his family and the cosmos have been blissfully sharknado-free in the five years since the most recent attack, but now sharks and tornadoes are being whipped up in unexpected ways and places.”)
- Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017) (“With much of America lying in ruins, the rest of the world braces for a global sharknado; Fin and his family must travel around the world to stop them.”)
- The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018) (“Fin has to go back in time to rejoin his shark-battling friends to stop the first Sharknado and save humanity.”)
About the Author
David Wyld (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Professor of Strategic Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, publisher, executive educator, and experienced expert witness.
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