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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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Rules of Work

Voice Mail
Never answer your phone. People don't call you because they want to give you something for nothing. They call you because they want you to do work for them. By not answering your phone and letting all calls go to voice mail you can screen the calls.
If somebody sends you a voice mail message that sounds like it will result in work, then respond during the lunch break or when you know the caller will not be there. It'll look as if you are hardworking and conscientious - even though you're actually shirking work.

Based on ideas from BBC Television's The Office.