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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.

How to delay paying your bills

Wait until they send the bill the third time then write. (Never phone, or use e-mail - writing is slower) and ask why you haven't received an invoice. Demand a written reply for your auditors.
Ask for an itemised account but don't explain what you mean by itemised. When you receive the invoice, write back saying that it was not what you had wanted at all.
Send a cheque with figures not matching words. When they call to complain, send a corrected cheque - but omit to sign it
Send a copy of their invoice with a torn corner of cheque stapled to it. This will start a frantic hunt for your missing cheque. When you eventually hear from your supplier - delay further while you check with your bank. And all the time they'll be apologising to you!
Tell them that your cheques require two signatures and the other signing officer is on prolonged sick leave/sabbatical/silver anniversary cruise for the next month
Send a cheque for the wrong amount made out to a completely different (fictional) company. When they call, promise that you will sort it out - but will have to track down how the mistake occurred and contact the other company to get the cheque back.

The 4 Ps of debt collection:
Payment - achieved by following the next 3 Ps
Personal Contact - deal directly with your debtor.
Patience - be prepared to wait.
Persistence - but don't ever give up.
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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.


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