Conflicts of interest seem to be incredibly easy to clearly spot when they involve other people. They somehow become “complicated” or even completely invisible, however, when trying to spot them in our own lives. A conflict of interest suddenly becomes a “business opportunity,” “savvy maneuvering” or simply “striking while the iron is hot.”

Use this clip of Gollum scheming with himself to keep his promise to safely lead Frodo to Mordor… by way of a deadly spider. That will allow him to simply pick up the coveted ring — not (technically) steal it or personally murder Frodo. This clear case of cinematic conflict of interest should create an entry point for you to have an instructive conversation with your team.


What was Gollum’s conflict of interest?

How do people justify conflicts of interest in business?

What conflicts of interest have you seen in business — ours or others?

What potential conflicts of interest could catch you or people on your team?

Where should you go if you witness or suspect a conflict of interest?


Bryan Belknap, an award-winning screenwriter and speaker, is Creative Director at Resonate Pictures, which specializes in story-based training and branding films. His new ebook “How to Teach Ethics and Compliance with Hollywood Movie Clips” is available for free download.

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