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Case Lens on Hard Work In the Backdrop of Hollywood Movie, The Pursuit of Happyness*

CASE LENS, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR
ET Cases, 3.12 Minutes
AUTHOR(S) : Y. Bala Bharathi and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Teaching Note Preview

Case Lens on Hard Work In the Backdrop of Hollywood Movie, The Pursuit of Happyness

 

Synopsis

The Case Lens on Hard Work in the backdrop of the Hollywood movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, aims to sensitize participants to the need and importance of hard work in achieving their personal and professional goals. The movie depicts Chris Gardner (Chris) a sales person who strives hard to make ends meet. Despite his poor financial status, Chris dreamed big to gift a good life for his son and lead a happy life thereafter. It was a moment of epiphany when he realized that he can accomplish his dream by getting a job at Dean Witter, a renowned stock brokerage firm.

In the process of getting a job at Dean Witter, he faced several hardships - became single parent, became homeless, had to sleep with his son in the public restroom, etc. Nevertheless, undaunted by surmounting problems, he had put in great deal of hard work and fought against all the odds which came on his way. Finally, his perseverance paid off and he was chosen as a best performing intern and was offered a job at Dean Witter. Later, he also became Founder & CEO of Gardner Rich & Co. The Case Lens on Hard Work which is based on an astounding true story of rags to riches offers several insights to the participants to understand what it takes to accomplish one’s aspirational career.

Prerequisite Viewing/Mandatory Viewing

The students/participants need to watch the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, mandatorily. Honoring all the expected IPR issues, every participant must be encouraged to buy a DVD of the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. The temptation of either exhibiting the movie in the classroom or the students/participants downloading the movie from any hosting sites should be desisted lest we set unwarranted precedents in violating mandatory IPRs.

Classroom Orchestration

This Case Lens (The video introducing this Case Lens and the accompanying 5 questions) can be orchestrated in the classroom in the following suggested flow:

1. Asking the students/participants to view the movie 2-3 days before the classroom discussion
2. Playing/exhibiting the Case Lens video in the classroom
3. Ideally, faculty/facilitator should analyze the first question and the remaining four questions should be analyzed by the participants/students. The class should be divided into 4 Learning Teams and ask them to prepare for all the 4 questions. After giving them about 15 minutes, the classroom discussion/analysis should be attempted. This can happen by asking one of the teams randomly to present their analysis or each team can be allowed to lead a discussion for each of the questions.
4. Each question would take varying times (the suggested timings are given in Exhibit (TN)-I) and it is highly recommended that the last 5 minutes should be spent on debriefing and synthesizing. The debriefing segment should be used to synthesize the expected learning outcomes of this Case Lens.

Expected Learning Outcomes

• Understand the importance and nuances of hard work in shaping an aspirational career and enabling a fulfilling life
• Discuss and debate on the characteristics of Chris that helped him in achieving his pursuit of happiness
• Draw relevant lessons from the six parts of Chris’ life as depicted in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness

.........................

Assignment Questions

The assignment questions, as outlined in the Case Lens video, are:

I. What according to you is hard work? Why Chris had to work so hard across various facets of his life?

II. Chris asked two questions to the man who parked Ferrari outside the Dean Witter’s office (00:09:30-00:10:05):

a. What do you do?
b. How do you do it?

What is the importance of this episode in Chris pursuing very passionately the choice of being a broker at Dean Witter?

III. What is your analysis of the first interview that Chris had at Dean Witter for the internship (00:41:31-00:46:00)? What specific insights do you emanate from this episode?

IV..................

Preamble to the Case Lens Discussion

The purpose of this Case Lens is to understand the importance of attributional trait, ‘Hard Work, in one’s personal life as well as in professional career. The students/participants need to watch the movie before the classroom discussion, as this Case Lens poses a series of questions which enable an understanding of the importance of hard work in Chris’ pursuit of happiness as demonstrated in the movie.............

Case Lens: Classroom Discussion and Analysis

I. Discussion on the 1st Assignment Question by the Faculty

What according to you is hard work? Why Chris had to work so hard across various facets of his life?

Faculty/Facilitator began the discussion with a question on what it took for Chris to accomplish his pursuit of happiness. Participants unanimously opined that Chris had to put in a great deal of hard work to realize his dreams in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. Then the discussion moved on to defining ‘Hard Work’. Participants deliberated on the topic for some time after which faculty concluded the discussion by defining ‘Hard Work’ as a function of an individual’s aspirations less his/her existing abilities or capabilities. For instance, a student who has the ability to get 60 marks on an average in any given examination may aspire to get 100 marks in his/her next examination. However, he/she has to put in lot of hard work to get 40 more marks and achieve his/her aspiration of 100 marks................


Exhibits

Exhibit (TN)-I: The Case Lens’ Classroom Orchestration

Exhibit (TN)-II: Discussion Questions

Exhibit (TN)-III: Chris’ Aspirations and Abilities

Exhibit (TN)-IV: Chris’ Aspirations and Abilities

Exhibit (TN)-V: Chris vs Owner of Red Ferari

Exhibit (TN)-VI: Inferences from the First Interview of Chris at DeanWitter

Exhibit (TN)-VII: Movie Instances of Rubik’s Cube and the Inferences

Exhibit (TN)-VIII: Identifying High Potential (HIPO) Employees

Exhibit (TN)-IX: Common Themes Across Six Parts of Chris’ Life

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Abstract

This Case Lens on Hard Work is prepared in the backdrop of the Hollywood movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. This internationally acclaimed movie, inspired by a true story, is an engaging and highly stimulating saga of how an African-American, besieged with financial and pecuniary hardships, becomes a successful broker at a financial services firm with his sheer perseverance and hard work. Long touted to be a virtue of the middle-class, the value of hard work cannot be over-emphasized in the modern age. The movie narrated through six parts of Chris Gardner's (Chris’) life, is replete with proverbial and anecdotal evidences of how hard work can catapult someone to his/her aspirational horizon. While the odds may weigh against a person, the hard work compass can steer him/her through the hardships eventually. Several insights might emerge from a clinical analysis of the movie that can have profound impact on everyone's personal and professional lives. What does each of the six parts of Chris' life teach us? What are the distinguishing and truly inspirational lessons from Chris' life?


Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand the importance and nuances of hard work in shaping an aspirational career and enabling a fulfilling life
  • To discuss and debate on the characteristics of Chris that helped him in achieving his pursuit of happiness
  • To draw relevant lessons from the six parts of Chris’ life as depicted in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness

Case Positioning and Setting

This Case Lens, as a pedagogical tool, can be used in either of the following:

  • MBA Programs – Organizational Behavior Course – Career Management Module – To understand the importance and nuances of hard work in shaping an aspirational career and enabling a fulfilling life
  • Executive Development Programs/MDPs – To sensitize the participants to the importance of hard work by discussing the differences between hard work and smart work and debating on the efficacy of each one of them under different circumstances

  • *It should be noted that participants/ students are expected to see the movie before they participate in a classroom discussion/analysis of any of the CASELENS’ products



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    - Abstract
    - Case Lens
    - Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
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