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Business & Management Lessons from Humour

Businesses (and people) over time develop habits and patterns of working. Sometimes these lead to success. However often they stop management from seeing reality – especially when the business environment changes. Competitive intelligence can identify these business blindspots – both in the company itself, and in its competitors. Taking advantage of competitor blindspots is a major way that a company can beat its competitors, so it is crucial to understand one’s own blindspots so as to protect oneself from possible attack.

Business problems can be shown through humour. Humour allows businesses to take a step back and see a problem applied to a situation that appears different to their own. One can also sometimes see similar behaviour in one’s own organisation – thus highlighting a possible blindspot. Humour is just one technique for showing blindspots. Others include the use of drama workshops and story-telling, or war-gaming where the business environment is modelled and management try and take an external look at their and their competitor situations.

The following “stories” and office “theories” are taken from our humour database – with a random selection shown. Refresh the page for further examples.

Job Advertisement translator

What they say What they really mean
A highly visible position. We can't afford any office partitions, let alone offices.
Flexible Hours - 35 hours pw. Plus whatever your supervisor asks you to.
Duties will vary. Anyone in the office can boss you around.
Must have an eye for detail.

We have no quality control to speak of.

No phone calls please. We've filled the job. This ad is just a legal formality.
Seeking candidates with a wide variety of experience. You'll need it to replace three people who just left.
Seeking candidates who require little or no supervision. You're on your own here; sink or swim.
Problem-solving skills a must. This is a company in perpetual chaos and turmoil.
Requires team-leadership skills. You'll have the manager's responsibilities, without the pay.
Good communication skills. Management communicate, you listen and figure out what they want.
Ability to handle a heavy workload. Whine or complain and you're fired!

Rules of Work

Your look
Always try and look impatient and annoyed - this gives the impression that you are are extremely busy on important, yet difficult, work.
Sigh loudly when people pass by. This gives the impression that you are under enormous work pressure.
If you work in a big open plan office, make sure that you have two jackets. Always leave a spare jacket over the back of your seat. This gives the impression that you are in the office - throughout lunch, early in the morning and late in the evening, when actually you'd left early to watch a football game.

Based on ideas from BBC Television's The Office.

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