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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.

Make sure you understand your information sources

A film crew was on location deep in the desert. One day an old Indian went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow rain." The next day it rained.
A week later, the Indian went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow storm." The next day there was a hailstorm.
"This Indian is incredible," said the director.
He told his secretary to hire the Indian to predict the weather for the remaining of the shoot. However, after several successful predictions, the old Indian didn't show up for two weeks. Finally the director sent for him.
"I have to shoot a big scene tomorrow," said the director, "and I'm depending on you. What will the weather be like?"
The Indian shrugged his shoulders. "Don't know," he said. "My radio is broken."

Make sure that you fully understand your sources of information - and any drawbacks or weaknesses associated with them, before using them for any major plans.


Department Store Service

A woman walked up to the manager of a department store and asked. Are you hiring any help?
The manager answered: No - We already have all the staff we need!
The woman responded: Good - then would you mind getting some one to wait on me?

How is your customer service? Are you risking sales and customer dissatisfaction because the staff you have do not focus sufficiently on your customers? It's easy to recognise the department store or shoe shop with sales agents busy talking to each other about what they were doing the night before, rather than helping us make a purchase. The same applies to non-retail businesses. Rather than hire new staff, make sure that the staff you have focus on the customers you need.