Breaking Bad: Show’s over, but the business lessons remain

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT. If you read further, you will be aware of how Breaking Bad ended. We warned you…

Breaking BadIt’s hard to believe Breaking Bad has reached its conclusion. Who imagined that Jesse would take out Todd, Walt would take out everyone else and that Lydia would succumb to Stevia (in a way…).

It has been a five season thrilling ride from the early days of inept, naive Walter White to Walter’s alter ego, Heisenberg, to Walter on the run. Sunday nights will never be the same without the Whites, the Shraders, Jesse, and Lydia, “Gomey” and, of course, the world’s most crooked attorney, Saul Goodman.

What Breaking Bad taught us

While the show has ended, the lessons it brought don’t need to go away. Sure, you might say it was just a TV show and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but it actually made excellent points that directly relate to the business world. When you read further, we think you’ll agree.

Here are our three takeaways:

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 3.35.00 PM1. Don’t keep an employee that doesn’t align with your culture – Remember when Todd, the dead-eyed, quasi-charming psychopath took care of the kid riding the dirt bike? That was a clear sign that he didn’t need to be on the team. In fact, looking back, that was the point that the story turned around and Walter and Jesse wouldn’t have ended up where they did without Todd. Never keep an employee that doesn’t fit the culture and morals of the team.

2. Don’t make partnerships with organizations that don’t share your beliefs and goals – Todd’s neo-Nazi uncle is a perfect example of how we are who we do business with. “Uncle Jack” is loathsome on many levels but a convenient relationship when Walter needs to effect change. Stay out of desperation and you won’t need to partner with the Uncle Jacks of the world. No matter how desperate you get, there are options that aren’t really options.

RV in underwear3. Understand and accept the risks before you get started (and then constantly review along the way) – Walter thought he had nothing to lose when he starting cooking crystal meth way back in Season 1. As he aspired to greater amounts of money (and power/control), Walter forgot the risks to his family and even his own legacy, which suddenly came back into consideration just a little too late. Great businesses constantly evaluate the risks associated with new products, new markets and growth in general. “How did we get here?” If you’re asking that question, you haven’t been assessing and responding to risk along the way.

Ah, Breaking Bad. This is a tough goodbye.

Before we leave the show behind as part of our combined experience, we’d like to give you one last great memory…the montage in Season Four with the track, Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells:


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Categories: Workplace Reality

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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3 Comments on “Breaking Bad: Show’s over, but the business lessons remain”

  1. September 30, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    Great analogy on how to run a successful (clean) business and hopefully companies do not put themselves in a situation Walt found himself in. That being said, there are always tough choices to make and what is important is doing exactly what you said: “understand and accept the risks” so hopefully everyone can work efficiently to best minimize them.

  2. October 8, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Excellent Blog! Breaking Bad had a really strong underlying message about right and wrong. You are right that the lessons learned are universal.

    • October 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      Thanks, Daniel. Enjoyed writing that one immensely (more than usual).

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