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Money Heist: A lesson for people managers

By People Matters

September 29, 2021


5 min read


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Taking inspiration from the popular show, HRs can enhance productivity by strategically planning agile goals, forming cohesive teams with defined key roles, and by providing decision empowerment.

There is a lot to learn from this famous web series for everyone across the levels and roles in the corporate setup. The Money Heist series focuses on the organization’s key elements: talent acquisition, talent management, and business planning.

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OTT (Over the top) platform has changed the concept of the entertainment industry by launching some amazing content lines, and it has given avenues to many creative people to showcase their caliber and leave an impact. In the last couple of years, I have developed an interest in web series, and I must confess that I am totally smitten by Sergio Marquina, a.k.a El Professor. What a genius character of the most-watched Spanish web series “Money Heist (La Casa de Papel). The plot revolves around a group of robbers led by the character Professor, who plans a heist at the Royal Mint of Spain. The web series is popular amongst all age groups because each of the characters from Berlin to Tokyo, Nairobi to Helsinki, or Palermo to Denver stirred one or the other part of our lives with a strong message. While watching the series, I could resonate with it at so many levels that were closely stitched with an organization’s key elements, (that I was living, day in and day out at work) be it talent acquisition, talent management, and business planning. Think about money heist in the corporate scenario where El Professor is the CEO or founder of the organization who is setting up everything from scratch for a trillion valuation. Here are a few key lessons:

Planning is essential

The professor visioned every possible scenario, both positive and negative. Most importantly, he apprised and trained people to handle grave situations and manage the unpredictable ones. As a leader, he focused on critical areas and prioritized the task, and defined the rules to work for everyone with the explicit mandate that everyone should stick to it. The learning is research & planning like a master player, which keeps you ahead in the game once you are done planning to the minutest of the details and ready with an action plan, all you need to do is, execute it.

Defining Role

El Professor identified and hired all the team members of the robbery based upon their strength. He laid down the CTQs in three parameters technical /function, behavioral and emotional. He also invested for a couple of years to identify people based on the skills required for the different roles fitting the CTQs and started preparing the talent hunt well in advance rather than just in time for hiring. He hired people who were passionate and who had nothing to lose in life. The team he hired was all high headed, strong, and intelligent people and not who is comfortable to work with. For example, Moscow was recruited into the team for his mining skills while Nairobi was in charge of printing money and overseeing the melting of gold because she was an expert counterfeiter and forger. He made a diverse team with a presence of 3 women, one from LGBTQ and other members

Agile Goals

A perfect example of setting KPIs for each team member and creating back-up. The KPIs were agile, and people knew what and how to do. . To align everyone, he had set the objective right for everyone, and all were aligned to the goal mentally and emotionally. The message was clear that the objective is more important than the individuals. There was no ambiguity, and people were mentally ready about it

Succession Planning

El Professor anticipated that the Spanish army and police won’t keep quiet during the heist. Therefore, the professor has identified each team member’s strengths and weaknesses and has delegated the task and decision authority accordingly. Most importantly, he envisaged surprises and shocks; therefore, to manage it, he has identified successors for each person in case of any casualties. He did person-to-person marking and devolution of power for the role and people adhering it. When Police officer Alicia caught the professor, the robbers in the bank didn’t hear from him; however, they continued to work towards their mission and following orders of Tokyo and Palermo. The message was clear to all of them; everything was part of the plan

Power of a strong and cohesive team

Professor led the heist from the forefront, even managing it from the backend. He ensured that his core team stayed together and tried to kill the differences at the right time. This way, he retained his team and continuously engaged them. The professor has managed every situation very calmly and always mentioned that everything is a part of the plan. This way, he has comforted all the gang members and prepared for all the losses and failures.

Understand your market

Professor created every possible scenario in his head and was always ahead. He knew all the moves police and agents were going to make and planned them well ahead in time. He did this by a thorough research and by sometimes going to that place where the heist was supposed to take place and sniffed every important person out there. He did not leave a single detail related to the bank. For a smoother execution, it was a sheer research and attention to details.

We are in the midst of the biggest talent war of the decade where candidates have the upper hand. Organizations and HR leaders need to quickly adopt and execute the progressive talent management concepts to stop their “talent heist.”

Author Amit Jain

Amit Jain is the Group HR Head (Vice President – HR) for PeopleStrong and Taggd.

This article was published on People Matters

By Amit Jain

Amit Jain is the Group HR Head (Vice President – HR) for PeopleStrong and Taggd.

This article was published on People Matters