TV Soap Operas

Most television series devolve into soap operas over time.  As explained in that source of all true knowledge, Wikipedia, “most soap operas follow the lives of a group of characters who live or work in a particular place”.  Don’t get me wrong. Soap operas have an important place in the universe of entertainment.  It’s just that not everything has to become a soap opera.

Witness the show “West Wing”.  At first it was all about a glimpse into how some fascinating characters dealt with events with a national or international impact.  Over time, it became more and more about how those characters dealt with each other than about how they dealt with outside events – a soap opera.

Organizational Soap Operas

The issue is that the same thing happens in many organizations.  The organizational members lose their focus on the outside world of customers, collaborators, competitors and ever-evolving conditions, and devote more and more energy to dealing with the lives of the other characters with whom they work.  The internal plot and sub-plot lines around who’s in whose favor, and who’s doing what to whom take over people’s discretionary thinking time.

Joining the Cast

It’s hard to sort out the soap opera-esque plot lines before joining.  Few organizations even recognize that this is happening to them, let alone talk about it.  But, be aware that they exist.  Be careful about which sub-groups you join early on.  Stay as focused as you can as long as you can on the external stories.  It’s safer, more important, and makes for better television in the long run.