Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is Spider-Man Version 2.0 an Improvement…and What Can Entrepreneurs Learn from this Saga?

As detailed in my first post on this subject, I continue to be interested in the development of "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark." The $70 million production finally opened last week after the longest preview period in Broadway history.

The most obvious question is whether Version 2.0, launched after a three-week hiatus in late April to implement changes, is an improvement over Version 1.0 (the Julie Taymor version). Version 1.0 was universally hated by critics back in February. While many critics still didn't embrace the new version, they all seem to agree that the new version, reworked by a team of “outsiders” brought in to fix the show after Taymor was removed from the helm, is an improvement.

I saw Version 2.0 over Memorial Day weekend (along with seven other new musicals…I know, it’s an illness). While it wasn’t even in the same universe as my favorite of the group, recent Tony Award winning Best Musical "The Book Of Mormon," I have to admit that it was OK. This may seem like faint praise but, given that the New York Times had called Version 1.0 “amongst the worst musicals ever made,” I assume it’s an improvement.

Most telling to me is that the plot, which had been called everything from muddled to incomprehensible, was linear and easy to follow. While the score is unmemorable and the story predictable, it has some positive attributes, including the sometimes incredible and sometimes distracting flying sequences and other special effects.

The less obvious questions are what happened to make it better and what could an entrepreneur learn from it?

In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” composers Bono and The Edge (of rock band U2) surmised that Taymor (who over the weekend commented on the experience of creating the show) had gotten too close to the production to see its flaws. While Taymor was working around the clock for months immersed in all aspects of the production, Bono and The Edge were off on tour, thereby allowing them to intermittently return to see the work with a fresh set of eyes. They basically admitted that they had some of the same concerns as the February reviews, but they and others couldn’t get Taymor, who clearly had creative control, to listen.

Sometimes I see the same problem with entrepreneurial ventures. Too often, the founder or CEO, who is immersed in the business 24/7, can’t see the flaws, recognize a changing landscape, or identify new opportunities. This is why it is so critical to foster a diverse work environment that is open, values fresh perspectives, and encourages questioning. Outside advisors and a strong and inquisitive Board can also certainly help.

Of course, it’s also important to be a good listener, something it appears Taymor couldn’t do. Her inability to see through the web of obstacles to a successful musical could have made Spidey come crashing to earth. With a dose of fresh perspective from the new creative team, he may continue swinging on the Great White Way for a while.

No comments :

Post a Comment