THE BARD & CO
Book Review - The Bard & Co: Shakespeare’s Role in Modern Business
Editors – Jim Davies, John Simmons & Rob Williams
Published – Cyan Books
Year – 2007
Place – London
No author perhaps has had the kind of influence Shakespeare has had on our lives in different forms. This book is another example of Shakespeare’s influence, this time on the business world of today. Twenty six contemporary writers have paired with a Shakespeare play and one of the lead actors of the First Folio list to give us this delightful new insight of the play and the role. The book is a delightful collection of essays on Shakespeare’s role in contemporary business world.
That we have very ...view middle of the document...
But the bottom line is not about numbers; it’s about people and emotions. And when it’s about people and emotions, it is a natural corollary that it is about communication; a linguistic balance sheet and verbal accounting. Who can play the role of language auditor better than the Bard himself?
A rather discomforting thought for all the managers who believe business is about number crunching.
It cannot have been an easy task for our modern writers. The daunting challenge would have been not just to write as well as Shakespeare but to find something “that touches us and illuminates us for centuries after its creation”.
The uniqueness of this treatise is its treatment of the writings. Whereas previous works have highlighted mostly on the potential of Shakespeares’ characters as role models of business leaders, such as Henry II or indecisive ones, Hamlet, this book approaches the subject through the context of language and the power of words.
Nowhere has Shakespeare used words as powerfully as in his sonnets. In the Introduction, Or What You Will, John Simmons introduces the readers to Shakespeare through his sonnets “a sequence of 154 poems written in strict poetic form, oft quoted but seldom read”.
Simmons bemoans that much of office time is spent in applying previously tried solutions to problems with little or no intellectual stimulation. With a deep sense of rue I realize it also applies to us in the education sector – quite a paradox.
Simmons also believes that this is largely due to the fact that much of today’s writing is devoid of metaphor and challenges businesses to compete with Shakespeare. Businesses will be successful only if the words are right, he concludes.
Stuart Delves showcases the power of Shakespeare’s pen, which he used as a means of advancement in the tortuous politics of the 17th Century court, through his (Shakespeares’) diary on the eve of the first performance of Macbeth, of which the lead actor was Shakesspeare himself. The diary entry reads more like a letter to Chuck – Shakespeares’ lover, perhaps? He describes his anxiety as the play is about to open in August in Hampton Court. Though it had already played at the Globe, Shakespeare appears more anxious as King James will be in the audience. And it is on the King that depends his survival, the King who is the benefactor of all in the ‘business of writing’. Businesses of today need also remember that the ‘pen is mightier than the sword’. And so are we all – the ‘Kings’ Men’, beholden to our employers and dependent on them for our survival.
I almost split my sides reading Dan Radleys’ take on boardroom presentations, comparing presentations to Cleopatra in Anthony and Cleopatra. He likens it to the first time one ever went up on stage, almost died and swore to ‘never go there again’ referring to the anxiety one feels before any presentation. As luck would have it, there you go again “burbling away in front of a powerpoint slide – powerless and pointless”.