Like a lot of people, I recently watched the Netflix documentary Fyre in total disbelief as I watched the festival slowly swirl down the drain. And now it seems the scandal of the festival has even infiltrated the documentary battle between Netflix and Hulu, raising questions about who else is really responsible beyond Billy McFarland.
As an employee experience junkie, I couldn’t help but think about the employees. Who knew what? Who asked the right questions but was denied honest answers? Why did people keep showing up without getting paid? How much leeway can corporate culture and executive swagger buy you?
At Brilliant Ink, we advocate for honest, transparent organizations that treat their employees like human beings and welcome diverse opinions and challenging debates. We’ve found that employees are naturally skeptical of leadership and are hard to fool day in and day out. So what happened?
According to the now-controversial documentary, it seemed like those who asked the hard questions and challenged directly were swiftly shown the door, likely discouraging others from doing the same. Most recently, the Netflix coverage has come under fire, too. We have to ask ourselves what is the truth and what is fabricated about this entire enterprise.
But is there more to it? Is this the inherent risk of the hustle and grind culture? After all, if employees are working such long hours at a frenetic pace, they might not have time to question the decisions at the top. When cult-like fellowship is the norm, employees might be more likely to believe their CEO is showing them the path to fortune and fame. And when every employee is anointed as a brand ambassador and expected to flood social media with pro-company posts, companies might be creating a “yes” culture with no room for dissent.
So, what can we learn from the dumpster fire that was the Fyre Festival? Unquestioned leadership is a dangerous thing, and toting the company line can have unintended downstream effects. Oh yea, and never underestimate the persuasive power of a Kardashian.