Innovation lessons learnt from Matilda

I confess that I am a musical tragic and took my daughter to see Matilda The Musical last Saturday.  I found myself relating the story to my work in innovation and entrepreneurship. 

In 2000, struggling to make a living from theatre and music, and fascinated by the work of Roald Dahl, Tim Minchen wrote to Dahl’s manager asking for the rights to Matilda to write ‘the musical’ for an amateur theatre company. He was asked to send a sample of his score so Dahl’s team could consider his request. Stunned he actually received a response; Minchen deleted the email but thankfully not the idea. Fast-forward to 2008 and he wrote the songs for Matilda in a seven-week period. 

Lesson one is never kill an idea, just park it. You never know when you might resurrect it. Lesson two, in Branson’s words, “Next time opportunity knocks, just say yes". Matilda faces Miss Trunchbull to realise her dreams. Miss Trunchbull instills fear and commands, “You have to stay inside the circle”. In business, we know it is the lack of empowerment and unwavering rules that inhibit creativity and stifle innovation. Lesson three, don’t choke those around you by locking them in physically or metaphorically. Encourage experimentation and experiences.

Lesson four is to ‘keep it real’. Matilda boldly claims, “Just because you think that life’s not fair it doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it”. We are each responsible for our actions. Clients, employees, and business owners are thankfully demanding authenticity. Be respectful, be considerate and certainly don’t stand by when you know something is “not right”. With Women’s International Entrepreneurship day on November 19, my ‘inner voice’ cheered each time Matilda emphasised, “I’m a girl”. Lesson five, it is inspiring to see support and recognition for women as they take on entrepreneurial roles and step into the innovation space. Finally lesson six, you get what you pay for: at $150 a ticket we had an amazing experience. If you are going to invest in yourself, don’t short sheet your business and cut corners. If it’s worth doing, do it believing you cannot fail.

A final word from the star of the show, “Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty”. Let’s face it, is there an entrepreneur who has never challenged or broken rules? 

- Christina Gerakiteys is an ideator, innovation and creativity expert, and facilitates the Rippler Effect Innovation Program.