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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Super-marketing

Robert Smith was devastated. As the owner of a small retail business selling various groceries he had always recognised the threat posed by major supermarket chains such as Tesco, Walmart, Carrefour and the like. Now a branch of Tesco had opened next door, and business was tailing off. He told all his friends how worried he was - and that things couldn't possibly be worse. And then a branch of Walmart opened on the other side. Robert now told friends that he expected to be out of business within the year.

His friends were really surprised when they met him a few months later - getting out of a top-range Mercedes wearing an expensive suit and with a big smile on his face.
We thought business was so bad that you were about to go bankrupt. What happened?
Robert replied: Well that is what I thought. And then I remembered that one secret to effective marketing is to make sure that your potential customers know where to find you. So I changed the name of my company. Come and look!"
Robert's friends followed him to his shop, sandwiched between Tesco and Walmart. Over the front, the new name was posted in big neon letters ENTRANCE

How do you promote your business? Can potential customers find you? Do your marketing promotions send people away, or invite them to come and buy. You need to ensure that all your marketing promotions allow customers to enter.