A shift of opinion

April 16th, 2011  |  Published in Innovation  |  3 Comments

Here are the opening ten minutes or so of A shift of opinion the finest management training film produced – ever! Apart from the black and white recording, the smoking, the blackboard and chalks, and one or two dinosaur-esque behaviours the issues in the story – creating change with people in organisations – are as relevant today as they were when it was filmed back in 1969.

This clip shows the opening 10 minutes but the film lasts for around 37 minutes overall and I’d be very keen to know what the copyright situation is with this material, last I heard it was a BACIE resource but I believe they were absorbed by the CIPD in 1994 – all updates welcome.

Here’s the pitch:

A film which shows the benefits that potentially accrue from involving staff in decisions that affect the way they work. A detailed dramatic reconstruction, showing a cross-section of employees brought together to make suggestions and amendments to a plan for a new compressor that will increase productivity. The employees are unused to being asked their opinion and the mix of older and younger, sceptical and naïve workers discuss the details. From the general review that the whole thing is a waste of time, the workers finally leave believing that the meeting was useful thanks to the skill of the chair.

Made with the co-operation of ICI Gas and Methanol Section Power and Ammonia Works, Agricultural Division. Made at Granville TV Studio with the Gemini System.


  1. Christopher Langley says:

    February 16th, 2012 at 23:18 (#)

    Shift of Opinion was made by a company called SB Modules. I think SB Modules & its properties were sold to a company called Lifetime in the 90s.

  2. Fay Kelly says:

    February 21st, 2012 at 11:09 (#)

    Christopher Langley wrote this and numerous other scripts for training videos – all of them are superb quality and if you can get hold of “Gone today, here tomorrow” I urge you to do so. It’s the best resouce for managing absenteeism I’ve come across. I don’t know where the copyright of “Shift of Opinion” resides unfortunately. Judging from Chris Langley’s comment it isn’t with him. Shame. He deserves the credit.

    Fay Kelly, Principal, LTM (Learn to Manage)

  3. Jon says:

    July 24th, 2012 at 16:53 (#)

    This comment is taken, with permission, from an email that arrived a couple of days ago from Chris Langley, the script writer:

    “About 25 years ago a personnel manager asked me if I knew of a video on discussion leading. I lent her a copy of Shift of Opinion. It came back faster than a shuttlecock. Too sexist. I was a bit disappointed that the banter of an all male work team could cause offense but I accepted that the Shift was toast. So when a friend discovered Castleton opining that Shift still had something to say I felt the astonishment of a fisherman who sees a coelacanth rising from the depths. I’ve always thought of dramatised training as biodegradable. Human behaviour may be a constant but not other stuff , like sideburns or flares or beehives. So I dug out my very blotchy VHS of Shift. It was less antiquated than I feared. For a start, big plus, the cast is no longer over-familiar. 40 years is a long time. Most are dead (probably from lung cancer). Short back and sides throughout. No Keegan afros. Another plus, no voice over. Initially I thought why didn’t we use one? But VOs date. They can easily end up sounding omniscient & smug. I think at that time we thought a freestanding behavioural model was some sort of ideal. The unforeseen benefts of that shot in the dark soon became apparent. Shift was used for leadership/discussion management/dealing with change/ industrial relations/ and god know for what else. As a trainer active at that period said to me – there wasn’t a lot else around at the time. It was filmed, pre video, on 16mm. That meant setting up projectors and all that palaver. Initially there was some trauma over processing. How that got sorted I’ve no idea but the film stock was always substandard. There were two things that struck me revisiting the video. The quality of the camerawork in what must have been a cramped studio. Very 12 Angry Men. James Ferman, the director, did us proud. I can still hear his voice (American) in the rehearsal room saying ‘This is almost as good as a television script.’ Thanks, I thought. Still there is something extra there. It’s about managing change but it’s also about the discovery by the workforce that task experience has upped their status. But that’s not it,is it?

    So why this E mail? Just to thank you for luring up the coelacanth from the depths. I assumed it was extinct.

Leave a Response

September 2021
« Oct