Monday, March 2, 2009

Leadership Lessons from the 3 Stooges

Growing up, I watched the 3 stooges….a lot. In fact, I was such a fan that my mother worried about the lessons I was learning. Would I go through life slapping, hitting my friends on the head, or poking people in the eye?

The bad news is that I did learn a lot of strange behaviors from the 3 stooges. The good news is that Larry, Moe and Curley taught a lot of valuable lessons in addition to general mayhem.

What kind of lessons? Well, let’s use our handy “Way Back” machine to explore a typical episode of The Three Stooges...

A 1940 short was called “A Plumbing We Will Go”. As you might guess from the title, our 3 hero’s are plumbers and they have been called out to a large mansion to fix a leaky pipe in the basement. It takes them a few minutes to find the basement, mostly because they were looking for it, upstairs. But after they find the basement, they find the leak and spring into action. In a few short minutes they have not only NOT fixed the leak, but they have:

- Broken the pipes that are used for steam heat
- Created a new leak in the upstairs bathroom, where they also managed to ruin the floor
- Dug a huge tunnel in the front yard, looking for the ever elusive “water shut off valve”.
- Managed to put water through electrical conduits so now when you turn on the lights, the bulb fills up with water
- Not only that but in another part of the house a demonstration of the owner’s new fangled TV set turns a broadcast of Niagara Falls into a very wet, soaking, 3 dimensional experience.
- Lastly, for reasons very much unrelated, the police are after our boys as well

All the while there is a more than sufficient amount of head slapping, eye-gouging, stomach punching, and name calling to make any CEO proud.

So what are the true lessons in this episode?

1. Leadership – Moe is clearly the leader and he assigns tasks based on the relative talents of the individual. Hence Larry is outside digging the ditch while Curley, the only stooge with plumbing experience is trying to fix the leak in the bathroom.
2. Teamwork - Each stooge has their role but they are all working as a team.
3. Creativity – Every time they run into a roadblock they find a solution and keep moving forward.
4. Planning – They have a plan and are working the plan. It may not be a great plan, but hey… this is a comedy!
5. Persistence – Regardless of what problem they run into, our boys never give up. When that water shut off valve is not where they start digging, they just keep digging until they find it.

So there you have it. A birds-eye view of the lessons from the 3 Stooges. And I bet that you can think of your own lessons as well. Feel free to open the discussion and add them here.

Until next time.

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems LLC

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