In Good Company


In Good Company

Written by 
Paul Weitz

Director Paul Weitz
Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson

Category    Management Change,Organizational Culture      


Universal Pictures



Language English
110 min

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“In Good Company” is a 2004 film written and directed by Paul Weitz. The film stars Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson and Marg Helgenberger.

In this alternately funny and poignant comedy drama, Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) a middle-aged family man finds a less experienced (Topher Grace) 26 year old, usurping his professional life and worming his way into his family.

Dan Foreman has spent 20 years as the head of advertising sales for "Sports America," a leading athletics magazine. While he is ready to enjoy the fruits of his well-earned midlife security, Dan's comfortable life is given a major shake-up when a massive, Orwellian conglomerate, Globecom, buys Waterman Publishing, the owner of Sports America, and replaces senior executives with its own people. To this end, Management hands the plum position of head of advertising to 26-year-old Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), demoting the 20-year veteran (Denis Quaid). On top of his demotion, Dan is suddenly faced with his wife’s unplanned pregnancy and his elder daughter’s decision to attend New York University, taxing the family’s finances. Dan's wounded ego makes working with the arrogant Carter an uphill battle, but his is no position to quit with all his financial obligations.

Throughout the film we are able to identify two professionals, each of them strong in their own way. Carter is the young high flier who has the energy, stamina and creativity to bring changes to the firm and who talks a good game about sales but obviously has no practical experience in the field. On the other hand, Dan is the mature specialist who has developed his expertise through years of experience and hard work. He is respected by his team, a respect that Carter finds difficult to achieve at first.

The film portrays a pragmatic picture of the current situation we are experiencing in various markets and industries here in Cyprus but also across Europe. As a result of the world economic crisis, we observe various corporate changes, mergers, acquisitions, while some companies are even closing down. While companies try to survive or increase their profits, through decisions regarding human capital that are driven primarily by cost savings, the film reminds us now more than ever corporate decisions, should always take into consideration the fact that people are the core contributors to the success or failure of every company.

The company in the film is a true example of how a traditionally successful firm is run; with a strong corporate culture that has been developed over the years reflecting the years of experience, knowledge and expertise that it has accumulated through the commitment, loyalty and drive of people who have worked hard and contributed to the growth of the firm. Sound familiar?

Well just like in reality so also in the film management decide to dismiss a significant number of these seasoned highly effective and committed employees, silently but clearly sending out the message that “no one is irreplaceable”, which naturally results in the disturbance of the internal balances within the organization and severe drop in employee morale. Once again a very familiar picture for us HR professionals, a reminder that the unique nature of human capital, requires vigilant and proficient consideration and management, especially during times of change.

Although changes are healthy and company progression is mandatory in a competitive environment, while making these changes happen, special attention should be given to all those success factors which helped the company achieve impressive results in the past. In this case, the magazine was successful due to the quality of its contents, the relationship which was built with the clients (advertisers) and the attention that was paid to the end customer (readers), all key success factors that are directly related to the human element. The new leadership failed to understand and take this into consideration and as a result it had to abandon all subsequent acquiring decisions.

The movie proves what all good HR professionals inherently understand…Successful change cannot happen overnight. It is a long term process and one which requires investment of resources, outstanding leadership practices and a clear strategy. However, all great journeys begin with a single step and in the case of change that step must entail the commitment of the leadership to support and sustain the organization’s legacy and to achieve change through the inclusion of its human capital in the change process!

Contributed by: Anna Mylona