E-F-C Movie Reviews

It’s almost Oscar time so why not post a few Engine for Change (E-F-C) movie reviews, highlighting three fabulous driving change themes.

The King’s Speech 

The movie’s driving change theme is: Measure someone by their results instead of the letters before or after their name.

I blogged about my love for the movie last February in the post, “No Letters After My Name.” My favorite character in the movie wasn’t the king, but rather I enjoyed watching what happened to his speech therapist, Mr. L. Logue.  He had no lettered training and yet his methods worked.  The crucial scene comes when the king must decide if he would rather have a pedigreed doctor who can do nothing for him or the unlettered man who has already helped him so much.  How I wish more people would take away from the movie that they are too often hiring consultants because they have Dr. in front of their name and are likely overlooking excellent implementers that produce amazing results.  The same is true within organizations where consultants opinions are valued and peer or subordinates with the same (or better) ideas are dismissed.


The movie’s driving change theme is: Create the change you believe in, even as the world calls you crazy.

I watched the movie before I read the book and I loved both because they show you the torrent of emotions and self-doubt someone goes through when they choose to go against the “wisdom” of tradition to find new, better ways to win.  In Moneyball you follow Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane as he takes on all of baseball to create something entirely new: a team that can win for pennies on the dollars the Yankees and other big teams spend.  Our Engine for Change parallel is when you start driving change (instead of driving people) you, like the Oakland A’s, seem to get wins for cheap.  Since the “wisdom” of tradition says this isn’t possible–no one chooses to change and volunteers to participate–they dismiss your successes.  In the end, just like Billy Beane, you change the game by sticking with the method you know works and slowly spreading your new way through the larger organization.   See “I Still Shout” for another way to tell the same sort of story.


The movie’s driving change theme is: The people with the best solutions are the ones doing the work. 

An inspired-by-true-events story about a runaway train in Pennsylvania, the movie follows an experienced engineer (played by Denzel Washington) as he and his young conductor (Chris Pine) try to solve the problem in their own way.  Dismissed by company leadership, the engineer and his conductor refuse to comply and instead apply their knowledge of the reality of the rails to save everyone along the tracks from certain terror.  This story should speak to all my friends who have good reasons to mistrust senior managers who have become too far removed from the day-to-day details of the work.  Each time I watch the movie I am more in awe of the power that a job well done instills in a man, and how that power can be put to the best uses if only someone would listen and gets out of the way.  If you ever need to remember that you should listen to the people who do the work, just watch Unstoppable one more time.

Now for Your Thoughts:

What do you think of these three movies? Do they live up to my high praise?

What other movies with strong driving change themes would you recommend?

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