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The Planview AdaptiveWork Holiday Movie Guide (with a Fun Project Management Twist!)

Published By Team AdaptiveWork

Another holiday season is here, which means it’s time for holiday movies, holiday movies, and yet more holiday movies.

However, while plenty of choice is usually a good thing, sometimes it can be overwhelming. Deciding what to watch can be a challenge. It might even lead to battles with family members to see who commands the remote control — which is a more powerful than winning the Iron Throne or being Lord of the Rings.

At Planview AdaptiveWork, we want you have a great holiday season. To that festive end, here (in alphabetical order) are 10 seasonal movies — some classic oldies and some more recent entries — that we think you, your family and your friends will love (with a fun project management twist!)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

What it’s about: This animated holiday classic tells the tale of good ‘ol Charlie Brown, whose attempt to find the perfect Christmas tree is met with scorn and ridicule by the Peanuts gang — that is, until Linus (with his signature blanket nearby) steps in and delivers a delightful and heartwarming speech about the true meaning of Christmas. With a runtime of about 30 minutes and some of the most iconic holiday music ever made, this is a perfect selection if you don’t have a lot of time, or if viewing audience includes kids.

If project managers made this movie: Charlie Brown would have sent out a list of Christmas tree criteria to all stakeholders (from Snoopy through to Lucy), and engaged in focused collaboration that supported both top-down and bottom-up project planning to select the perfect conifer.

A Christmas Carol (1951)

What it’s about: While there are many editions of A Christmas Carol — including Bill Murray’s “Scrooged” (1988) — most fans and critics point to the 1951 version as the definitive version of this Dickens classic. It stars the incomparable Alastair Sim as Scrooge, who on Christmas Eve — and after a typical day of being mean, stingy, miserly, and uttering a few humbugs! to his most loyal employee Bob Cratchit — is visited by three ghosts; including one who warns Scrooge that he must change his ways to avoid a most heinous fate. All of this leads to one of the most inspiring and memorable final scenes in the history of cinema; just ask Tiny Tim!

If project managers made this movie: Scrooge surely would have realized that disengaged employees like Bob Cratchit are less productive, less efficient, and less profitable than their engaged counterparts. As such, Scrooge would empowered Bob and his colleagues with tools to eliminate redundant tasks, foster transparency, and inspire a sense of participation and shared purpose.

Die Hard (1988)

What it’s about: Hard-nosed New York City police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) flies to Los Angeles to visit his estranged wife, and hopefully to patch up their marriage. However, his wife’s corporate Christmas party is crashed — literally — by a gang of terrorists who don’t care much about decking the halls with boughs of holly or roasting chestnuts on an open fire. They’re after cold hard cash, and it’s up to lone wolf McClane — with some help from a beat cop and a funky limo driver — to send the bad guys packing. Note: because of the violence and language, this probably isn’t a good movie for kids. But when they go off to bed (or get bored and hop on their iPads), then the grown-ups can settle in for non-stop action.

If project managers made this movie: The security vulnerabilities that the terrorists exploited would have been proactively identified in the risk analysis, and so instead of breaking in and wreaking havoc they would have been caught red-handed — and perhaps forced to listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks in the back of the police car until the confessed to everything they did (and maybe a few things they didn’t).

Elf (2003)

What it’s about: Buddy (Will Ferrell) isn’t just the first human being ever raised by elves in the North Pole, but he thinks that he actually IS an elf — that is, until the day he is sent (with Santa’s approval of course) to New York City, so that he can meet his real family. What follows is one hilarious mashup after another, as Buddy goes from being the Big Apple’s weirdest citizen (wait until you see what he does with a bowl of spaghetti), to a hero that saves Christmas.

If project managers made this movie: Buddy could have remained in the North Pole and connected with his family via a designated virtual collaboration space in the cloud. They could have all sent emails and IMs back and forth, exchanged pictures and videos, and so on. Hey, we’ve all heard of remote workers. Why not remote elves?

Home Alone (1990)

What it’s about: When they head out on a Christmas vacation (just as the Griswold’s — we’ll get to them in a moment!), some parents forget to take care of little details. For example, they may leave the garage door open, the basement light on, or neglect to turn down the thermostat. However, when the McCallister’s fly off to celebrate Christmas in France, they forget something somewhat more important: their eight-year old son, Kevin! That sets the stage for a battle between Kevin (who is “home alone”), and two of the dumbest, but funniest, burglars in history.  

If project managers made this movie: The McCallister’s could have created a customized workflow that would have alerted them about their missing son before they reached a stage gate — like leaving the house or boarding their flight. Or at the very least, they could have connected with their son and given him instructions to keep him safe and sound (like stay away from the after shave — ouch!).

Home for the Holidays (1995)

In this hilarious and relatively lesser-known holiday gem directed by Jodie Foster, after losing her job Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) does what millions of people do this time of year: they head home for a family dinner. Sound ordinary? Well, wait until you meet Claudia’s dysfunctional clan: from her snobby brother-in-law, to her gloriously eccentric aunt. While there are some tense scenes between angry siblings, the movie’s feel-good ending will put a smile one everyone’s face — and maybe even trigger a tear or two.

If project managers made this movie: Claudia’s organization would have been using a top-rated collaborative work management (CWM) solution to drive and lead digital transformation, and so instead of losing her job she would have been promoted and given a raise. Of course, she still might have opted to go home for the holidays — but she would have traveled in style, and stayed at a luxury hotel with day spa and on-staff massage specialists.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

What it’s about: George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is at the end of his rope. After a series of unfortunate events involving misappropriated bank funds, a despondent George is convinced that his family, friends, and community in general would be better off if he was never born. That’s when an angel named Clarence shows up, and ultimately helps George realize that not only is he vitally important to the people around him, but indeed, it really is a wonderful life.

If project managers made this movie: George would have replaced spreadsheets at the bank with tools that drive visibility, collaboration and governance — which would have given him the flexibility and freedom to go off to college, become a brilliant architect, travel the world, and have a wonderful life.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

What it’s about: After a trek to Wally World and a journey through Europe, the Griswold clan decides to stay put and celebrate Christmas at home. What could possibly go wrong? In a word: everything! There’s a cat that thinks an electrical cord is a chew toy, the sudden appearance of cousin Eddie and his (aptly-named) dog “snot”, Clark Griswold’s EPIC meltdown — and the list goes on, including some truly heartwarming scenes that will remind you of what Christmas is all about (that is, until cousin Eddie blows up the sewer with a cigar…).

If project managers made this movie: Managing stakeholder expectations is a critical part of project success — especially if this involves one (or in the Griswold’s case, many) stakeholders from taking over a project and unintentionally, but inevitably, hurling it towards disaster.

Trading Places (1983)

The ultra-wealthy Duke brothers can’t agree on whether nature vs. nurture determines a person’s destiny. And so, they decide to turn upside-down the lives of two innocent bystanders: a snobby and rich investor named Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Ackroyd), and an impoverished con artist named Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy). With the holiday season serving as the backdrop — including an epic sequence aboard a special New Year’s Eve train from Philadelphia to New York City — the Duke brothers settle their debate in a way that they never, ever imagined.

If project managers made this movie: The Duke brothers would have been exposed for having dangerously low levels of emotional intelligence — especially with respect to empathy, ethics and relationship-building — and so they would have either received coaching to boosts their EQ, or they would have been escorted out of the building for the sake of the team.

Honorable Mentions

This list has 10 holiday movie recommendations — but it could easily have 20, 30, or even 50. But if we went in that direction, this wouldn’t be a guide: it would be a book! Still, some honorable mentions that could easily have made the list include The Night Before Christmas (1993), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Gremlins (1984), and the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).  

Holiday Wishes

We hope that the above suggestions help you pick great movies to watch this year — and ideally, for years to come as you make them part of your annual holiday viewing tradition.  Happy holidays from everyone at Planview AdaptiveWork!

(PS: it’s a good thing that project managers don’t make holiday movies, isn’t it?)

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Written by Team AdaptiveWork