Delfont Mackintosh Theatres
What does it take to run a successful West End show? Actors, for sure, plus a good story and a beautiful theatre. But it also takes a small army of people working front of house to make sure that every customer enjoys a magical and memorable experience… and possibly with a song in their heart.
Science has shown us that humans don’t typically respond well to any change. It upsets the delicate balance that tells us who we are and what our purpose is. If we are knocked off balance, it can have a profound effect on our behaviour … and prevents us from being at our best.
This was the situation that Delfont Mackintosh Theatres (DMT) found themselves in, following the decision to refresh Les Misérables – the second longest running show in the world. Endings are never easy, nor are they always immediate and in this case, the show literally had a target date to move on to a different venue and new version of the show. There were growing concerns about the impact this decision was having on its front of house staff; there were signs of tension growing behind the usually smooth operations.
Positive input from the DMT senior team identified what mattered most and shaped a bespoke workshop design for the front of house team – we call this a ‘create balance conversation’. This helps the teams reflect on who they are, what they do and why they do it, to start to recognise their issues and priorities and to come up with ideas to restore their balance. Like any balance conversation, our goal was to find the ‘answers in the room’ and help our client create their own solutions.
What we discovered was a team who were, understandably, nervous about their show moving on. But we also heard an immense amount of pride. So, we tapped into it and said, ‘what if we made this the best ending to a West End episode the world has ever seen?
We always know when something has landed well with a group. You can feel the electricity in the room. That electricity powers everything we do. By the end of the session, the team had rediscovered their DMT identity and sense of ownership, creating a new, shared vision for the final days and weeks of their show.
The final months of the show created unique memories and experiences, retaining balance throughout.
“Working with create balance was exactly what we needed. With Martin’s ability to take a room’s temperature and Mel’s extensive knowledge of business psychology, they were able to intelligently navigate us towards finding balance and use this to respond to the issues we were facing, so that we could get back to doing what we do best. They gave us the luxury of guided thinking time – something that can get lost too easily in the day-to-day bustle of running a theatre.
At no point did we feel like the create balance team were forcing a ‘one size fits all’ package on us. At every stage they tailored their approach to the specific needs of our theatre. And in the balance conversation they reacted live to curveballs and unexpected discoveries, working their magic to help the team help themselves. That takes real talent and an innate understanding of humanity.
We’ve seen first-hand how quickly a lack of balance in business can throw everything out of kilter. It isn’t something you can dismiss or pretend isn’t important, especially in our business where everything is about people. This whole experience is unlike any other consultancy we’ve encountered. We’re excited to continue working with this team to help us maintain our balance.” William Differ – Operations Director DMT.
We continue to enjoy balance conversations with the wider Delfont Mackintosh team including operations, security, property, technical and sales and ticketing - helping the organisation create balance as a mindset and a capability across the critical areas of their business. As we emerge from the pandemic, we continue to work with their Transition Team, using a balanced approach to help the leaders and teams deliver a ‘better than ever return’ to the West End.
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