Annie Get Your Gun and Dissertations

On May 16, 1946 the hit musical Annie Get Your Gun made its Broadway debut. I’m not really that into musical theater, but it turns out the show was nearly a complete flop because of a little thing that happens to dissertation students all the time…

There are only two numbers from Annie Get Your Gun that you’re likely to recognize: “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” and the show-closing  hit, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” These are the only two tunes people would walk away from the theater humming. They’re the reason for the success of the show.

Well, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was almost not included, because the show’s composer and lyricist, Irving Berlin, mistakenly got the impression that the show’s producer, Richard Rogers (of Rogers & Hammerstein fame), didn’t like it.

I haven’t seen the show Annie Get Your Gun. But, I am familiar with the song “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” As I mentioned earlier it’s one of only two songs from the show that almost anyone has likely ever heard of. It’s a pretty famous song!

And, the fact that this hit song, that really had the power to make or break the whole show, that fact that it  almost got left out of the musical altogether because of a faulty assumption is a really a big deal!

This sort of thing happens all the time. And, it’s probably happening to you right now with your dissertation committee.

Take a look at all the things you’re trying to include in your dissertation. Why are they there? Are there things you’re doing just because you assume that your committee wants them?

Go through your dissertation plan. If there are things you’re doing because of underlying assumptions about what your committee wants, go ahead and make yourself a note about those assumptions.

You know what? Your committee may letting those things stay because they assume that you want them in there!

Communicate with your committee! Clarify your assumptions, and theirs. It will save you a lot of time.

“When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.”
— Oscar Wilde

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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