The Science of Continuous Improvement

Don’t be ‘Prickly’ about continuous change!

It had been almost 10 years since I’d visited Canada – enough time to forget what a great country this is. Canada gets a bad rap in some quarters. The old joke was that the US invaded Canada, got bored and withdrew after 3 days. While funny, that’s probably unfair and Canada really has a lot to offer.

First Stop: We touched down in St John – home to those iconic dog breeds – Newfoundlands and Labradors. The big occasion was that my nephew, Peter, married a local girl. We caught up on all the family news and even got to see some Minke and Humpback Whales. The province is famous as the site for the 1st transatlantic wireless communication; the 1st transatlantic flight; the 1st responders to the Titanic’s distress signal – an event which occurred about 500 miles off their coastline. With a direct (4.5 hours) flight from Dublin, what’s not to like about this place?

Second Stop: The 2nd leg was a long cross-country trip to Winnipeg – a city that I used to refer to as the ‘Athlone of Canada.’  Winnipeg has come of age and is now well worth a visit, provided you bring your mosquito repellant. More family news and catch up – with a lot of pretending that people hadn’t gotten any older looking! Yes, lying with conviction is a key life skill!

Action Counseling: My niece, Tara, is a counsellor who works with troubled teenagers. Historically, clients came to see her at the office and they worked through the presenting issues. But the ‘no show’ rate was as high as 50%.   When people’s lives are chaotic, keeping diary appointments is seldom top-of-the-to-do-list. So, they changed the method. She now meets clients in her car. And they go to McDonalds for a coffee or anywhere quiet where they can catch up. The ‘no show’ rate has declined to 10% and the clients say they prefer the more open settings. There’s also an emerging recognition that sitting ‘side by side’ (in a car) allows a depth of conversation on topics that are sometimes difficult in a face-to-face setting (staring directly at someone can seem very intrusive).

Program Evaluation: Of course, there are often unintended consequences to change. In this specific case, there’s a risk that key signals (e.g. body language) can be missed by the Therapist. Perhaps, a more difficult issue is the potential for boundaries to become blurred. A therapist is not a friend and may need to confront clients with aspects of behaviour that puts them at risk. To determine both the upsides and the downsides of the new approach, the centre where Tara works are seeking an external evaluation from the social-science department in a University to assess the changes made and determine the exact impact.

Lessons Learned: In this instance, we see the leaders of an existing programme – already deemed to be working well – deliberately changing how they operate. It’s in line with the Charles Kettering quip: “If you have always done it that way you are probably wrong.”  They then have the courage to take a hard look at the changes implemented and learn from this. Some of us (myself included) are at fault in continually elevating ‘for profit’ organizations – seeing capitalism as the best driver for change. But, in reality, the ‘Science of Continuous Improvement’ is attitudinal. There’s something in this for all of us, regardless of where we work. So, here’s the question. When is the last time you initiated a major review of the way things work? As the Eskimos say: “If you don’t have a lead dog, the scenery never changes.”

Doubting Thomas: Perhaps you don’t believe in the necessity of continuous improvement? You might even think that ‘change’ has been oversold? Then consider the following gem from Dr. Liam Doherty. Based on information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and subsequently published by The Irish Daily Star: “Over 200 patients reportedly had the wrong body part operated on in Irish hospitals in the last 5 years i.e. 231 people had surgery on the wrong body part, place or side between 2012 and 2016.” Think about that the next time you are being wheeled to an operating theatre. Before you nod off into the fog of a general anesthetic, pray that the particular hospital you’ve chosen actively embraces the ideal of continuous improvement.It’s not just for Canadians.

Have a good week.


PS Lighter Notes:

Redundant Technology: Came across an interesting piece of technology this week called FlowLight. A small light which pulses either green or red reacts to an office workers key strokes, mouse clicks and movements. Apparently, when you are in the top 10% of your average daily activity (AKA when you are in ‘flow’) – the red pulsing light warms fellow workers to stay clear. The aim is to help people avoid the plague of distractions and interruptions – the constant stopping and starting of work that increases the risk of error and reduces productivity. In trials, interruptions decreased by 46%. Hey, what ever happened to just telling someone to F*** off?

From Tony Mooney in Canada (this joke actually makes my normal stuff look good).  A Dwarf Psychic was arrested and imprisoned but subsequently escaped. Police are now looking for a small Medium at large.

Text Message From Husband: ‘Sorry I’m late honey. There’s a competition in the pub for who has the best wife and I’ve made it into the final group.’

The Consultant (from Larry McGivern)

Farmer Sam was overseeing his herd in a remote hilly pasture in Hereford when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust. The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and said:

“If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?”

Sam looks at the man then looks at his animals grazing peacefully and says: “Sure, why not?”

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet. He then calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location that he feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Almost immediately he receives an email that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his iPhone. After 93 seconds, he receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full-colour, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer, turns to the Farmer and says: “You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.”

“That’s right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,” says Sam.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on with amusement as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.  Then Sam says to the young man: “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?”

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says: “Okay, why not?”

“You’re a Member of the European Parliament”, says Sam.

“Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “How did you guess that?”

“No guessing required.” answered Sam. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked.  You used millions of pounds worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you think you are; and you don’t know a thing about how working people make a living – or about cows, for that matter.  This is a herd of sheep.  Now give me back my dog.”

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


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Call to Action: Just Ignore it (sometimes)

You don’t always have to Act Fast!

It’s true. Great musical talent needs to be taken to an adoring public. There’s only so much practicing in the parlor – before that world tour has to be undertaken. So a call to action to conduct a paid gig is always welcome. The phone conversation (according to my musical partner) went as follows:

“Could you play a gig for my family?”

“I’m sure we could. What date are you looking at?”

“Next Thursday afternoon.”

“Let me check the diary?” (‘I’m very busy’ is a ruse deployed by musicians and management consultants the world over).

“Yeh – that might work. What’s the occasion?”

Funeral Service: Turns out we were being asked to play at a funeral. Now, normally funeral gigs work fine. In Ireland, funerals are really like weddings, with just one less person attending. The ‘front end’ of the ceremony can be sad – but the back end is normally good craic. Guilty consciences are assuaged by comments like: “This is the sort of party she (the deceased) would really enjoy” and “We’re here to celebrate a life. Another Carlsberg Martin?” But this particular gig had some interesting parameters.

Rock On: The deceased loved Rock music – so the set list was pre-ordained. There wouldn’t be any Partridge Family hits and we’d probably have to put a ‘red-line’ through The Winner Takes it All from ABBA. Given the sensitivity, we couldn’t play The Road to Hell, Knocking on Heavens’ Door or Sorrow. You get the picture! But it was the idea of playing alongside the open casket that really turned my friend off.   So he respectfully (and rightly) declined. At this point you are probably saying: What’s all of this got to do with me? Relax now. Be patient!

Telephone Man: Picture yourself sitting at the desk, binding the 49th version of your company’s latest strategic plan when the phone rings. It’s Francis (or Frances) from ‘World-Class Headhunting.’ Apparently, there’s a new company coming to Dublin (or Dubai or Darwin). They have a killer application and need people just like you. They’re distributing free sandwiches (every day), stock options (when they go public) and a wellness program based on the fundamental principles of Hot Yoga. The MD is 28, an IT genius who also has incredibly well rounded interpersonal skills. He ‘gets people’ and he’d like to get you. Could you rock up next Tuesday afternoon at 14:00 to meet him?

Inner Comfort: Somewhere, inside all of us, there’s a small voice saying: “The full extent of my talent will eventually be discovered.” Now, finally, someone has come knocking. Only a fool would by-pass this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure your dream job, to make financial inroads, perhaps even to meet a new life partner in a young, vibrant, dynamic company. How could you refuse?

Front Seat: A call from a headhunter is flattering. It’s akin to being ‘asked up’ at a dance, making us feel important and wanted. It allows us to indulge in the fantasy of standing in front of our boss and telling her to “F**k off” or standing in front of our father and telling him “I told you I was smart.” That’s the upside. But it could also be the wrong job, in the wrong town with the wrong company. In the worst-case scenario, all you are really doing is making your next interview story more difficult.

Your Career: My friend Larry McGivern bangs on and on about the need to be decisive. He says: “Right or wrong, make a call. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn’t make a decision.” If you buy into the philosophy that you are the CEO of your own life, it follows that you own your career. Don’t be a pawn in some headhunters’ attempt to secure their next bonus payment. Executive Search Consultants are not career coaches. They are sales people – wanting to put your bum on any seat in order to earn a fee. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – provided – you don’t switch off your brain in the process and go along like Dolly the Sheep to an interview for a job that you don’t want.

Sometimes the best response to a ‘call for action’ (like that request to play at a rock funeral) is to ignore it. You have to know when you are 92% happy – because that’s about as good as it gets.


PS Sad Note: I can’t write anything about headhunters without thinking about Paddy Feeney in Orion. In a business world that can be very grey, Paddy was a wonderfully colourful character. He has a brilliant sense of humour and, in his day, was a great judge of talent. Paddy has been sick now for some time – and has moved out of the game. But he was one of the very best in the business. I really wish him and his family well during this difficult time.

PS Lighter Note: It’s equivalent to the 4th Secret of Fatima. Where does Aidan Cahill get his material? Now, buckle in and consider the following…

Saturday Service: At the regular Saturday morning service, the rabbi announced that he was planning to leave for a larger congregation that would pay him more. There is a hush within the congregation. No one wants him to leave, because he was so popular.

Fred Shapiro, who owns several car dealerships in Newton and Brookline, stands up and proclaims   “If the rabbi stays, I will provide him with a new Cadillac every year, and his wife with a Honda mini-van!”

The congregation sighs in appreciation and applauds.

Saul Cohen, a successful businessman and lawyer, stands and says: “If the rabbi will stay on here, I’ll personally double his salary, and establish a foundation to guarantee a free college education for his children!”

More loud clapping.

Estelle Rubin, age 88, stands and announces with a smile, “If the rabbi stays, I will give him sex!”

There’s total silence in the room. The rabbi, blushing, asks her:

“Mrs. Rubin, you’re a wonderful and holy lady. Whatever possessed you to say that?”

 Estelle’s 90-year old husband, Abe, is trying to hide, holding his forehead with the palm of his hand, and shaking his head from side to side, while his wife replied

“Well, I just asked my husband how we could help, and Abe said: “F**k him.”

Work:Life Balance: This one is actually a true story. Clare Foley (who works with me) has a grandchild, Lucy, who lives in the UK. Lucy is 6 years old. On a recent visit to Dublin they asked her: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  She’d obviously given this topic some thought based on her answer: “On Saturdays and Sunday’s I’m going to be a Mermaid. On Friday’s and Monday’s I’m going to be a Doctor.  For the rest of the week, I’m going to eat chocolate!”  There you go now.  That’s you and me sorted on career planning. Best answer I even heard.

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


Posted in Career Coaching | 1 Comment

Positive Reinforcement: The Early Riser Club

Positive Reinforcement Works

We all know that positive reinforcement works. Right?   So, are you using it? For example, do you provide recognition for employees with a perfect attendance & time keeping record? Setting up a monthly draw to recognise staff who have perfect attendance/timekeeping is used to great effect in a small number of organizations.

Perfect Attendance: An employee must be at work before or at the normal, agreed starting time. Anyone coming in after starting time is late. No excuses. The same employee must attend work every scheduled day throughout the month. Non-attendance at work for valid reasons e.g. Annual leave, Public Holidays, business trips, Jury duty and so on is acceptable.

Simple Rules: You need to make the ‘rules’ simple and straightforward to avoid endless debates (it’s an incentive plan, not a pub quiz). Examples of non-attendance that eliminate an employee from the draw might be: Uncertified and Certified illness or unpaid leave of absence. An important point is that although these may be genuine reasons for absence, they mean that an employee is not available for work.

The Prizes: You set up a Monthly Draw for ‘Perfect Attendees’. The monthly draw takes place immediately after the end of the month. A little trick here is to complete this draw in a public place (e.g. the canteen) to add extra fun and razzmatazz! You might have several prizes. 1st €500.00; 2nd €350; 3rd €250; 4th Prize €100 and so on (depending on how many people you employ).

6 Months: You can also have a draw for staff that have 6 or 12 months perfect attendance. That draw takes place in July/December of each year with a similar range of prizes – but only the ‘winners’ from each of the last 6 months are eligible to participate. A twist on this is that all staff with 12 months perfect attendance might receive a cash prize of €250.00 or perhaps become entitled to an extra days leave in the following calendar year on their birthday! There’s no particular magic about the ‘rules’ (as long as they are clear).

Overcoming Pushback: Oh, did I mention that you are likely to get ‘pushback’ from 2 different sources? The first are Dinosaur managers who will say: “We’re already paying people to come to work. Why should we pay them twice?” The Answer: run the numbers over your absenteeism rates and determine what this is costing you (in some organizations, this is a huge hidden cost). Then install a system which incentivises people to come to work and watch those € cost numbers fall. This type of system more than pays for itself and you are rewarding the ‘good guys’ (and girls). You will also get pushback from some people around the ‘rules of eligibility’. This will be along the lines of: “You’re encouraging sick people to come into work and bring their sickness in here.”  The Answer: “No, we’re not encouraging sick people to come into work. But we are recognizing those people who do make it into work every single day and we want to reward them for that effort.”

This works – both in economic and in staff engagement terms. Sometimes, the best ideas are simple. Try it as an experiment for 6 months and watch what happens. Now, that will cost you exactly 1 pint of Heineken the next time we meet!


PS Lighter Note:

To: All Employees From: Personnel Department


It has been brought to the attention of the Board that the attendance record of our company is a disgrace. It has therefore become necessary to revise some of our policies. The following changes take place with immediate effect:

SICKNESS: No excuse. We will no longer accept your doctor’s statement as proof, as we believe that if you are able to get to the doctor you are able to come to work.

DEATH: (Other than your own). This is no excuse. There is nothing you can do for the deceased, and we are sure that someone with a lesser number of obligations can attend to the arrangements. However, if the funeral can be held late in the afternoon we will be glad to let you off one hour early, provided that your work is sufficiently ahead so that you won’t inconvenience other employees by your absence.

LEAVE OF ABSENCE (For an operation).  We are no longer allowing this practice. We wish to discourage any thought that you might need an operation. Since we believe that as long as you are employed here you will need all of whatever you have, and should not consider having anything removed. We hired you as you are, and to have anything removed would certainly make you less than we bargained for.

DEATH (Your own). This will be accepted as an excuse, but we would like two weeks notice, as we feel it is your duty to train someone else to do your job.

TOILET BREAKS: Entirely too much time is being spent in restrooms. In the future we will follow the practice of going in alphabetical order. For instance, those whose name begins with A will go from 8:00 to 8:15, B will go from 8:15 to 8:30 and so on. If you are unable to go at your time it will be necessary to wait until the next day when your time comes up again.

The Management

 Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


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Bereavement Counselling: When should you seek support?

Seeking support is a sign of mental health – not weakness

“Bereavement is a powerful word for our reactions to the overwhelming way death attacks us in the loss of a spouse, a child or another loved one”. Kennedy & Charles

The loss of a loved one causes a broad range of reactions. In the aftermath of loss, people often find it difficult to sleep, have a decreased appetite and lowered energy. Feelings of anger, depression and loneliness are common. Sometimes nothing seems to bring joy into a person’s life with bereavement being likened to “an iceberg between the shoulder blades.” (When Death Comes – Mary Oliver). The intensity of feeling can be much worse on particular days. While it’s both confusing and disorientating, most people ‘work through’ this phase and eventually come to reconcile themselves with the loss.

Restoring Balance: Some people have difficulty in resolving grief and finding a balance in their life, adjusting to life without a loved one. For these individuals, Bereavement Counselling can help. With professional support, they are given the time and space to mourn and to imagine and plan life without the person who died. While the loss is recognised, clients are aided in bringing their grief to an effective resolution, moving into the next chapter. Paradoxically, some people feel that ‘moving on’ is somehow disrespectful. They become stuck and almost punish themselves with a continual sense of regret for what might have been. Others endlessly rehearse the last interaction (which may have been negative) and berate themselves for a single moment in what was often a lifetime of interactions.

Best Timing: “When should Bereavement Counselling happen?” is a common question. Most Counsellors suggest leaving space for the natural grieving process to take place and typically don’t see clients until six months has elapsed following a bereavement. The timeframe isn’t set in stone. Some individuals are so traumatised by the death of a loved one, that an earlier intervention is required. The sudden death of a child or a life partner can lead people to quickly seek help and General Practitioners often recommend that a patient talks to a counseling professional if they sense that additional support is needed. Sometimes, a family member sets the train in motion or the person themself feels they need to do something and seeks support.

Does it Work? Even when the death of a loved one is expected, there can be a sense of unreality, that the person is no longer there. As the client begins to talk and explore the loss, that sense of unreality becomes real and easier to cope with. Without meaning to, family members who may themselves be struggling with the loss, can block the expression of grief with comments like: “Why are you torturing yourself by going over this again and again?” which can stall or even prolong the grieving process. Bereavement Counselling allows the client to express their pain and sense of loss. The goal is to move at their pace, eventually reaching a place where they find an ability to live with the loss and begin to move forward.

Bereavement impacts each of us. Don’t be afraid to look for support when you need it. Understanding when you need help is a sign of mental strength, not weakness.


PS Lighter Note: Subject: Tesco Car Park Scam. Now, you’d need a smile after that topic. And, who better than Kevin Griffin to supply this tonic…

Please BE WARNED! Over the last month I have become a victim of a clever ‘Eastern European’ scam whilst out shopping. Simply dropping into a Tesco supermarket for a bit of shopping turned out to be quite an experience. Don’t be naive enough to think it couldn’t happen to you or your friends! Here’s how the scam works:

Two very good-looking 20-23 year-old girls of eastern European origin come over to your car as  you are packing your shopping into the boot. They both start cleaning your windscreen. When you thank them and offer them a tip, they’ll say ‘No’ and instead they ask you for a lift to another supermarket, in my case, Lidl. You agree and they both get in the back seat.

On the way there, they start undressing, until both are completely naked. When you pull over to remonstrate, one of them climbs into the front seat and  starts crawling into your lap and kissing you while the other one steals your wallet!

I had my wallet stolen on October 4th, 9th, 10th and the 15th. Also November 1st, 4th, 6th, 9th and 10th and twice yesterday. So please warn all the older men you know to be on the lookout for this scam.

The best times seem to be just before lunch and about 4:30 in the afternoon.

Happy Shopping!

P.S. Aldi have cheap wallets on sale for €1.99 each but Lidl wallets are €1.75 and look better!

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.

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Excellent Performance From People: Follow the ‘10 Commandments!’

We know how to manage people (for thousands of years)

Improving organizational performance by leveraging Human Resources has been a hot topic since God was a boy. Every year hundreds of titles are published around this subject. Yet most executives, suffering from information overload, have little hope of wading through the sheer volume of data. Wouldn’t it be really great if someone ‘summarized’ this stuff and made it simple? Here goes…

1st Commandment: Let people in on the BIG picture

The creation of organizational purpose is the first key managerial task. Simply stated, people need to feel that their organization ‘stands for’ something and what they do makes a difference. The underpinning thesis is simple. Most people look for purpose in their lives; if they cannot find it in work they find some external activity and place their energies elsewhere. At a societal level, the fall off in the practice of formal religion has left a ‘purpose gap’ in many peoples lives. High performance organizations’ manage to tap into this potential energy. A growing body of research suggests that an extra 30+% of effort is available. The even better news is that it’s free for those who have the managerial nous to go after it! Does everyone need a ‘higher order purpose’? While it’s difficult to generalize, there’s good evidence to suggest the following: While most of us initially focus on ‘paying the mortgage’, once this is achieved we need a higher order purpose to get into 5th gear. Paying the bills requires compliant behaviour but is not energising (for senior staff, the bills are paid by Tuesday anyway — you have to give them something to focus on for the rest of the week). To get top gear performance, organizations’ need to move beyond hygiene factors. Example: The St. Vincent de Paul Society in Ireland manage to mobilise 10,000 unpaid volunteers, 52 weeks each year and have managed to do this for the past 180 years. How? By having a noble purpose. Other organizations’ have to work harder to create a compelling purpose (some adopt emotionally loaded external causes). Letting people in on the BIG picture and convincing them of its merits converts your staff from stone-cutters to cathedral builders.

2nd Commandment: Set Crystal Clear Goalposts (then get off the pitch)

Once the BIG Picture has been clarified, people need to know their ‘role in the show’. Am I the goalkeeper or the centre forward? Ambiguity around personal goals, leads to anxiety, misplaced effort and lost productivity. Crystal clear goalposts are the building blocks of high performance. So, ‘how do you establish the correct ‘bar height? Do we look at the concept of being ‘best-in-locality’ (the best menswear shop in Grafton Street), best-in-class (the best menswear shop in the world) or ‘World-Class’ (an unmatched provider of customer service)? The answer here is often determined by your starting point (where you are today). Once the goals are crystal clear, good managers then get off the pitch.

Every Saturday morning, swarms of amateur soccer players descend on St Anne’s Park in Clontarf. On the touchline, the managers incite the players to deliver high performance. The role of these managers is to create self-sufficiency in the players; even where the players are performing poorly, the managers seldom don a jersey and take to the field. In too many business organizations’, managers misunderstand their role and try to be player/manager. The best companies set clear goalposts for people with adequate control mechanisms to monitor performance. Then they get off the pitch.

3rd Commandment: Turbo Charge your Organization with Project Teams

It‘s difficult to find a current management magazine which doesn’t make reference to the ‘wisdom’ of teamworking. From the early concept of Quality Circles (circa 1970) to more recent experimentation with self–direction, teamworking can positively affect morale, innovation and productivity. While the evidence to support the benefits of teamworking is impressive, it raises a puzzling question; why do so few organizations’ use teams? Ed Lawler   (University of Southern California) suggests an answer: “Teams are the Ferraris of work design. They’re high performance, but high maintenance.”   In practice teamworking is difficult to maintain. Full team–based organizations’ are complex social systems. To survive, they require significant support including rewards that reinforce teamwork, an effective meeting/communications structure and a supportive culture. While most references to teamworking mention the upsides, few dwell on the downsides — the significant level of energy that needs to be invested to make this work.

Turbo-Charged Project Teams: The development ‘Turbo–charged’ Project Teams offers a mechanism to get the benefits of teamworking while avoiding the constraints — the organizational equivalent of ice cream without calories! Project teams differ from work teams in that they are set up to tackle a specific problem or difficulty. The team remains in existence for as long as the problem remains; when the problem is solved, the team disbands. By their nature, project teams are focused and become ‘turbo-charged’ e.g. move to high performance levels quickly. This structure offers three specific benefits:

Bolted On: Given that project teams are ‘bolted on’ to the existing organization architecture, they don’t need a cultural shift to support them.

Fast Performance: ‘Turbo–charged’ project teams perform quickly.

Safe Experiment: The short shelf–life of project teams provides a safe mechanism for organizations’ to experiment with the concept of full team–based working.

4th Commandment: Let Everyone Wear a White Coat

In my first ‘real’ job (car seat manufacturing), all of the employees wore colour coded uniforms. The ‘workers’ (like myself) wore blue overalls; the foremen had brown coats; the supervisors were kitted out in white; the management sported double-breasted suits (the fashion at that time). This ordered hierarchy was an efficient way to denote ‘who did what’. Yet, while it had the benefit of clarity, it was based on an underlying (mistaken) assumption that the workforce could be divided into two camps— the inspired (who wore suits/white/brown) and the perspired (who wore blue). As one of the perspired, I had first-hand experience of that philosophy in action; it was demeaning and counter-productive (people found ways to beat the control systems in place, including an elaborate way of climbing over the 10 foot high back wall to ‘escape’ the monotony). Today successful organizations’ have overthrown that false division of labour and let everyone (metaphorically) wear white coats. They recognise that giving up control in a narrow sense allows them to gain control in a broader sense. Giving people influence (e.g. over the quality of the product or service they deliver) lies at the root of building spirit, morale and commitment. Reducing traditional controls, shifting the location of decision-making and getting people ‘stitched into’ the process (collectively called empowerment) are key tools. Those shop floor workers ‘hands’ are attached to a useful brain. Ceding control to the line is a key departure from past management practice. In manufacturing plants, it’s possible to have 700 Quality Control Inspectors (read as employees), rather than 2 Quality Control ‘policemen.’ Exactly the same point applies in the ‘back-offices’ of white-collar organizations’. During a school play in Belgrove Junior school in Clontarf, the most talented kids got the lead parts (Ugly Sisters etc.). My kid was in the chorus line (reflecting the general talent level in our family). She sang: “We’re in the chorus, we stand in a row. We all have talent — in case you don’t know”! It’s not just the lead players who need to be switched on, but every single cast member. Let everyone ‘wear a white coat’.

5th Commandment: Unchain the Right hand side of the Brain

Ask 100 people “In what profession do you need to be creative?” and 90%+ will tell you ‘Advertising’, ‘Marketing’ & ‘R&D’. Yet creativity is as necessary in the dustbin collection arena of Dublin City Council as it is in the Nassau Space Agency. All organizations’ are in business to satisfy a customer need — creating and delivering quality products or services. The smartest organizations’ recognise this as a never ending goal i.e. “There is no finish line”. In some cultures this is a given e.g. the concept of Kaizan from Japan; in others, managers need to ‘socially engineer’ this culture and develop appropriate reward systems to support. The best organizations’ release oil gushers of creativity and high performance. Example: We worked with a client company (120 employees) in the financial services sector. Using a creative technique from the world of advertising, the group managed to generate 4000+ ideas for customer service improvement (4,000 is not a typo) in a single-day session. These ideas were subsequently ranked with circa 7% (the A+ ideas) being implemented. Systematically communicating the outcome to staff who participated — guaranteed that people were switched on for the ‘next round’. Bottom Line: Senior Management don’t have a monopoly on good ideas.

Pre-planning Creativity: One of the key lessons about creativity in organizations’ is that it is not something which ‘just happens’. It’s actually consciously planned. At first glance this idea seems contradictory. Can a ‘creative process’ be pre-planned? Yes it can. Top companies are better at innovating, not because they hire more innovative people, but because they are better organized to be innovative. Through a range of ‘shake the tree’ events, they systematically produce crop after crop of new ideas. Many people will already be familiar with the system in operation at 3M where people are allowed to devote 15% of their time and budget to any project that they wish. This institutionalized lawlessness (internally known as ‘bootlegging’) would not be tolerated in most organizations’. Continuous improvement is key to the ongoing success of high-performance organizations’. Rosabeth Moss Kanter said “the only sustainable competitive advantage is the ability to learn faster that your competitors.” Great organization leaders unchain the right hand side of the brain of their employees. Do you?

6th Commandment: People will embrace change if they construct it

Successful organizations’ have an ability to constantly introduce changes in work practices, procedures and products. In the best-managed companies, change is not viewed as the equivalent of a visit to the Dentist for root canal work! Involvement of people in the planning of change is a key factor in the acceptance of this. I never tire of saying that the first principal in psychology is: “People don’t resist their own ideas”. It’s not so much that people resist change; they resist being changed. Sometimes they resist it because they don’t believe that the specific actions proposed are necessary. Yet underneath this ‘rational’ resistance, people are often reluctant to embrace fundamental structural shifts because they feel disenfranchised; it’s not ‘theirs’. To label this as ‘getting people to buy in’ is somewhat trite. It does not do justice to what is a deep psychological need — putting a personal stamp on important life events. The most effective change managers distinguish between controlling people and controlling results. In the USA, Dwight Eisenhower used to demonstrate the art of leadership with a piece of string. He’d put it on the table and say: “Pull it, and it will follow you anywhere you wish. Push it, and it’ll go nowhere at all.”

Example: The offices in one of our client companies needed to be rearranged with people moving between floors. While people had ‘more room’ under the new arrangement (desk space, floor space, filing etc.), the level of grumbling was high. Complaints ranged from the lack of ventilation, to distance from the coffee machine. During a second move the company employed a different strategy. The new office layout was posted on a huge ‘blow-up’ and left in the middle of the old floor for 1 month. During this time employees could comment on the suggested layout and several minor modifications were made. The second move was a resounding success, with the virtual absence of ‘moaning’ about the new locations. The message is simple but not simplistic. Take the time to stitch people into the change process at the front end or take the trouble (and twice the time) to fire-fight this later. Caveat: Participation in input doesn’t imply equity in decision-making. Managers make the final call (unless you are running a Kibbutz).

7th Commandment: Become an Ambiguity Sponge

In a world where change is the only certainty, a key dilemma for managers is to predict the future. As Mark Twain said “I was delighted to be able to answer quickly. I said I don’t know”. Great managers act as an ‘Ambiguity Sponge’, soaking up the concerns and the normal uncertainties of business life while providing a safe space for employees to work. There are two elements to the provision of short-term certainty.

Communication = Religion: The first is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Mostly face to face (avoid lobbing ‘hand grenades’ into the email system; use this to confirm information already communicated). Some managers are fearful of communication when there is an element of uncertainty: ‘we don’t have all the answers.’ It’s a mistake. In an information vacuum, ‘answers’ will be provided by the grapevine or by a third party organization. Let’s assume that you can’t answer the question “What will we do if the FDA don’t approve our new drug for killing all known dog fleas?” You then address this issue: “This is what we need you to do to make a difference in the next 3— 4 weeks”.

Worst Case: In counselling, a technique sometimes deployed is to ask the client to envisage the worst-case scenario: “If your kids all decided to move to Argentina tomorrow, what would happen then?” (for some, this might be a cause for great celebration). A similar technique can be used to good effect in managing. Where there’s a ‘felt threat’ to income or job security (however distant) the best companies address this up front (“In the unlikely event of a redundancy situation occurring, this is the way it will be handled…”). Having the courage to confront the issue openly — and laying out a plan to resolve the ‘worst case’ — allows people to let go of the uncertainty and focus on the day job. Providing short-term certainty, by acting as a sponge for ambiguity, is a key managerial task.

8th Commandment : Expect ‘A’? Then reward ‘A’

A fundamental management principle = what you reward is what gets delivered. It sounds simple. Devise a reward system that reinforces what you want to achieve. The problem here is that ‘what’s actually being rewarded’ in an organization is sometimes difficult to define. A couple of years back my then 6 year old daughter had a recurring problem. Each evening, about 1 hour after she went to bed, she would complain of stomach pains. Over a 2-month period this necessitated two trips to the local GP, one night-time GP house-call and one ‘midnighter’ to Temple Street Children’s hospital. Frustrated (because there were no obvious physiological symptoms), we tried the positive reinforcement route. Trouble-free nights were rewarded with a packet of popcorn the next day (technically seen as ‘sweets’ and highly regarded). Within 1 week the problem magically went away (watch this space for the next installment: “How we weaned her off the popcorn”).

Many organizations’ are the commercial equivalent of ‘bad parents’. They   reward (heap attention on) inappropriate behaviour like those pretend stomach cramps. The best-managed organizations’ have an explicit scorecard of high performance standards (both outputs and managerial behaviour) which they measure and directly reward. In the worst managed organizations’, rewards are based on a combination of perceived performance and personal lobbying (when asked to detail the ‘criteria for success’ in one client company, a manager replied “Get a timer on the light switch in your office and make it look like you’re working late every night”). The best companies communicate what’s important and measure/reward this. Don’t let the cynics win!

9th Commandment: Count the Score at the end of the Match

Keeping score and giving feedback on results seems so self evident that we could almost omit it as a key principle in managing people. Almost. Staying close to the business ensures that results are never too far off track and avoids an end of the year ‘crop failure’ which can so easily occur in businesses where the ‘score’ is not explicit (e.g. try to measure embedded value in the pensions industry). The best-managed companies understand that there are critical and non-critical performance measures. They have mechanisms to capture this information, distil it into lay language and graphically transmit this to the staff.

Critical Performance: When driving to work there are a couple of key car performance measures.

  1. What speed is the car travelling?
  2. Do I have enough fuel to get to the destination?

While there is a myriad of additional information (car tyre pressures, outside air temperature), it’s not core. You need a scorecard to differentiate core from non-core information and constantly communicate this to staff. Poorly managed companies either try to overcompensate by measuring and recording everything or leave an information vacuum (when we conduct audits, staff often feel that the company is making ‘fabulous profits’). The source for information in some companies is through the Trade Unions, with managers delegating this vital ingredient of their role to shop stewards or full-time officials. Feedback acts as a self-correcting mechanism. Empowered with the correct information, employees will find ways to ‘fix’ performance deviations. What’s needed is a ‘dashboard’ that’s understandable and accessible. Trade off the potential loss of commercially sensitive information against the positives of employee support and performance. Here’s the skinny. Count the score at the end of the game and tell the players. Simple, isn’t it?

10th Commandment” Celebrate the Success (“Pump up the volume”)

Most people want to be appreciated for their contribution. Yet, the concept of ‘celebrating success’ for many managers seems somehow ‘over the top’. In contrast, we have little problem using the psychology of reinforcement outside of work. I observed a ‘hard nosed’ manager becoming ecstatic about a simple line drawing of a house completed by his 5 year old son (the kid was no budding Picasso). The ‘artist’ was dragged to the newsagent and rewarded with a MAGNUM (€2.50 for those of you not in the know about these ‘health foods’). Several weeks later I mentioned this to him as an example of positive reinforcement.

“That’s different, he’s only a kid”

“Why is it different?”

“People at work get paid to do what they’re told”

“And do you want them to be highly productive?”

“Of course” (somewhat more tentatively)

“Then why don’t you recognise it when they achieve something significant?”

“They wouldn’t like it — it’s embarrassing”

“For you or for them?”

“Look, all this being Mr. Nice is not my style. I call a spade a spade. That’s the way I am.”

The best-managed companies understand that ‘attention – only when I screw up’ is a big source of dissatisfaction. They actively create heroes and champions. They make the extraordinary ordinary, highlighting small success stories around cost improvement and customer service. They look for ways to celebrate success and pump up the volume. They don’t fear disturbing 50-year-old pay relativities to which poorly performing companies are held hostage. They even make work fun (spread the word).

Conclusion: A manager is defined as “someone who gets her/his work done through others”. How? You can put a human face on this by asking the simple question “how do I like to be managed?” and applying the answers to people who work for you. Leading people requires the ability to generate high levels of energy, to focus that energy on selected goals and to sustain enthusiasm through the ‘white water’ of normal business life. Done well, it can unlock phenomenal performance. A combination of technology, better-educated workers and sophisticated systems for getting-work-done have made the old ‘just-tell-them-what-to-do’ style of management obsolete. The ‘10 Commandments’ detailed above offers a checklist for you to test current practices. The prize for getting it right may be no less than the very survival of your organization.


PS Lighter Note: Lets go completely ‘non-PC’ this week. Do you agree? Thanks to Kevin Griffen…

Q: What’s the difference between a boyfriend and husband?

A: 45 minutes.

Q: How do you get a sweet little 80-year-old lady to say the F….. Word?

A: Get another sweet little 80-year-old lady to yell *BINGO*!

From Aidan Cahill: In today’s business world the MARKETING issue can be confusing.
People continually ask for a simple explanation of ‘Marketing.’
 Well, your prayers have been answered…

  • You’re a woman and you see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to 
him and say, “I’m fantastic in bed.”

 That’s Direct Marketing.

  • You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a handsome guy.
One of your friends goes up to him and, pointing at you, says,
“She’s fantastic in bed.”

 That’s Advertising.
  • You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and get his
telephone number. The next day you call and say, “Hi, I’m fantastic
 in bed.”

 That’s Telemarketing.
  • You see a guy at a party; you straighten your dress. You walk up
to him and pour him a drink. You say, “May I?” and reach up to
straighten his tie, brushing your breast lightly against his arm 
and then say, “By the way, I’m fantastic in bed.”

 That’s Public Relations.
  • You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks up to you and
says, “I hear you’re fantastic in bed.”

 That’s Brand Recognition.
  • You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He fancies you, but you 
talk him into going home with your friend.

 That’s a Sales Rep.
  • Your friend can’t satisfy him so he calls you.

 That’s Tech Support.
  • You’re on your way to a party when you realize that there could be
handsome men in all these houses you’re passing. So you climb onto
the roof of one situated towards the center and shout at the top of 
your lungs, “I’m fantastic in bed!”

 That’s Facebook.
  • You are at a party; this attractive older man walks up to you and 
grabs your ass.

That’s Donald Trump.
  • You didn’t mind it at the time. But twenty years later your attorney decides
 you were offended and you are awarded a major settlement.

 That’s America !

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.

Posted in Effective Leadership | 2 Comments

Skip Engagment: Run ‘attitude adjustment’ sessions (starting with yourself).

Leaders Role: It’s OK to demand high performance

I suppose it was only a matter of time until my musical talent was discovered. Perhaps a more realistic telling of the tale was that I’d blagged my way into a paying gig (€200) for an afternoon session in the Hollybrook Hotel in Clontarf. Brian Kennedy (a real musician) would be my sidekick. The problem: Brian was arriving from Portugal on Friday, lunchtime. Playing on Sunday, gave us a day and a half for rehearsal. We went into overdrive.

Music Stuff: Here’s the science. We had to figure out how the hotel’s Public Address system worked (and integrate our own gear). A 3-hour ‘gig’ translates as about 40 songs which had to be agreed and then individually worked out. When you play solo – you can do what you want. But playing alongside someone else requires being in sync. Introductions, chord sequences, riffs and endings have to be bang on. Because we had no real idea who’d be in the audience, we needed a range of material (blues, pop, ballads). Then we had to ‘transpose’ (change the musical key) of several songs – to suit either Brian’s or my voice. Alongside this, I was trying to figure out the correct harmonica keys (my latest obsession) to accompany Brian’s blues stuff. Are you getting tired already? It took hours and hours and hours and hours. By the time we’d divvied up that €200, we were probably paid about €4 an hour, half the rate earned in Burger King.

Strong Deadline: Brian is normally busy and ‘hard to get.’ I was feeling a bit guilty as this gig was eating up a huge chunk of time. When I asked if he resented the hours, he replied: “People are paying to listen. It’s their night out. We give this 120%.” We were certainly engaged – putting huge effort into getting it right – for less than the minimum wage. Some of this was probably driven by a common fear e.g. ‘avoiding screwing up in public and looking like a prat.’  For sure, that was part of it. We were definitely alive during the preparation and performance. Good news: the night went well and the preparation (broadly speaking) paid off.

High Versus Low Engagement: Professional managers are paid to secure high output performance from others. The currently fashionable way to do this (and management trends are a ‘fashion item’) is to secure employee engagement. On face value what’s not to like about this idea? We are bombarded with the idea that ‘high engagement’ delivers happy staff who, in turn, ‘mind’ customers. It’s a win: win. But how then do we explain ‘high productivity’ in environments that are typically low engagement? The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a legendary tough leader. One of his quotes: “You can work long, hard or smart, but at you can’t choose two out of three.” In 2017, first quarter revenues for Amazon rose 23% to $35.7 billion. Amazon ranks as Number 2 on Fortune’s list of most admired organizations and on LinkedIn’s US Top Companies list. So, is there a disconnect between niceness and financial performance? I’m constrained here in telling the full story, but the highest performing multi-national I’ve ever worked with probably had the lowest employee engagement scores ever measured. While this is sometimes explained away as ‘bullying people’ into short-term performance, the link is not as straightforward as you might think.

Answer Driven: Some of this confusion is consultant driven. Consultant’s are great at coming up with solutions, sometimes to problems that don’t exist. The usual way to describe this is ‘selling.’ Who doesn’t want their company to be a ‘great place to work?’ Lets have a quick show of hands. Who wants a competitor company to be winning ‘engagement awards’ with Black-Tie photo opportunities?  Who doesn’t love odd-shaped pieces of Galway Crystal displayed prominently in the reception area? But is lack of engagement a real problem? Well, it’s hard to argue against this because no one knows what it really means. One report (MacLeod) came up with more than 50 definitions of engagement. So, lets’ spin the question a different way. Does high-engagement actually lead to high-performance? The answer is: it depends. Some elite organizations that are difficult to get into (e.g. Goldman Sachs) are extremely difficult to work for. On the Investment Banking side, new recruits regularly work 80+ hours each week (my nephew often slept under his desk or in a conference room in New York). If you were using a ‘typical’ engagement instrument to measure these practices, the scores would fall through the floor. The disconnect is that, at the same time, the Goldman Sachs performance was going through the roof! So, it’s difficult to talk about ‘Engagement’ as a concept – when most people can’t agree what this term means. Employee engagement has become a sort-of ‘snake oil’ (a formula which supposedly cures all organization ills). Engagement is used as a proxy for productivity – as if the two terms were interchangeable.  They aren’t!  Consider the following story….

Attitude Adjustment: When I worked with GE, a new Site Leader was appointed to a factory in Coolock. He was ex-military (US Airforce) and ‘donned the garb’, wearing leather boots and an aviators jacket. Most days he started work at 4:30am and left at 15:00. So, he was somewhat eccentric in both dress code and working hours. Every month he held management meetings to check progress on a complex plant start-up. The official title of those meetings were the ‘Attitude Adjustment Sessions.’ There was no quarter, taken or given. You ponied up, detailed your performance in the previous month and (hopefully) survived until the next month. Somewhat brutal, it was perhaps the most authentic performance review sessions I’ve even witnessed. Contrast that with some of the ‘high engagement’ organizations that I’ve worked in. Arguably, the not-for-profit sector, is the worst offender here. Many times I’ve seen the process (“everyone has to have an input”) getting elevated above outputs (‘results pay the bills’). In other words, it’s possible to have very high levels of engagement and very low levels of organisation performance.

High Performance:  So lets go back to some basics. In developing any high performance organization, there are two fundamental questions  (1) What is the mission/purpose of this organization? Is this clear? Can this be described in an emotionally compelling way? (2) How well are we performing against this mission? Techniques (like employee engagement) are subsidiary to these BIG questions i.e. everything else is noise.

Employee engagement is a means to an end – not an end in itself. Some low-performance organisations should skip engagement and start running ‘attitude adjustment’ sessions to drive performance.  Perhaps start with yourself by asking: “Am I over-delivering in this job? Am I giving this ‘gig’ 120%? And, as a leader, am I making this same demand on others?

Like skinny jeans, the engagement fashion trend will eventually move on. Perhaps we are already seeing the signs of this in the emergence of the ‘healthy organisation’ (with a focus on fitness and food).  Here’s an idea. Forget the ‘trends’. Focus on performance.

Have a good one.


PS Lighter Notes (this week Menu is fairly ‘mild’).

 Last week, I went to see my Doctor. He wasn’t well.

My father was a comedian. I was his first joke.

Q: What was the first thing Adam said to Eve?

A: Stand back -I don’t know how big this thing is going to get!

WHO DREAMS THESE UP?   Why, a Lexophile of course!

  • How does Moses make tea? Hebrews it.
  • Venison for dinner again?   Oh deer!
  • A cartoonist was found dead in his home.  Details are sketchy.
  • Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.
  • England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
  • They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Typo.
  • I changed my iPhone’s name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.
  • Jokes about German sausage are the Wurst.
  • I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
  • I did a theatrical performance about puns.  It was a play on words.
  • Why were the Indians in America first?  They had reservations.
  • I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
  • Velcro – what a rip off!
  • Don’t worry about old age; it doesn’t last.

Waiter, Waiter: I was in a cafe and I ordered the beef burger. The waiter came back and told me there’s no beef burger. So I ordered the steak burger. He came back. No steak. I tried the corned beef hash. He was clearly getting frustration from the kitchen because he shouted at me:

There’s no F in beef (that’s how it sounded).

Q: How can a waiter not know how to spell beef?

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.

Posted in Employee Engagement | 1 Comment

How to Grow Old Disgracefully (and guilt free)

Grow Old Disgracefully









Here’s the question. At what age should you stop celebrating birthdays? Perhaps when the candles cost more than the cake? In May, I was 60 and went a bit crazy. Golfing outings in Wicklow with the regular 4-ball. Followed by 3 days with 9 musicians on 2 boats, navigating the Shannon, testing the outer limits of sleep deprivation and alcohol poisoning (confirmation: there’s no ‘closing time’ in Roscommon). Family trips to Canada and Portugal. Both official and surprise birthday parties. More new shirts than in a Penney’s Winter sale. A Travel guitar added to the collection. And on and on and on in what began to feel uncomfortably numb — a contradictory pull between gratefulness for the effort invested (by everyone else) and a feeling that there was too much fuss and materialism.

Vote Hedonism? So where does celebration end and indulgence kick in? How many musical instruments do you need, before thoughts turn to homelessness or some other social issue? At what point do you stop wanting new stuff and start enjoying old stuff? The root of the question is easy enough to trace. It’s Catholicism and the liberal sprinkling of guilt that underpins this particular religion. Growing up, we were informed that ‘It’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.’ From memory, we heard that line about 42,337 times. As children, we took these stories literally, and honestly believed that it was somehow ‘wrong’ to be successful (I definitely should have been a Protestant). The irony that the institutional Catholic Church was itself massively wealthy, somehow got lost in the debate. I’ve now come to the view that my ‘indulgence’ does not steal from others. It’s a false dichotomy. On a political level, I subscribe to the Gary McGann school of thought. He argued (IBEC conference, 2016) that before wealth can be distributed, it first has to be created. But is this just a rationalization for selfishness? A thin veneer of justification to overcome guilt and make me feel good?

Creating Boundaries: In navigating this contradiction (coming to terms with modest success versus feeling a need to contribute), my personal recipe is as follows. Tandem Consulting offers a fixed amount of unpaid time to not-for-profit organizations. I also do some individual coaching outside of my immediate (middle-class) circle and give a fixed amount of money each year to specific charities. With that system firmly in place, I then buy as many golf shirts and guitars as I want. The good news is that they arrive with a special ‘guilt free’ packaging.

Useless Emotion: Guilt is the most useless of all emotions. It’s drains energy. It evaporates the feel-good factor when you do something for yourself or your immediate family. In the worst-case scenarios, it can create mental torment. And, here’s the kicker. It adds zero value. G is for giving, not guilt. Consider the following 2-step process. First, draw a boundary line around what, if anything, you want to contribute (time/money), something that feels comfortable and you can live with. Second, assuming that you deliver on the commitments made, consign guilt to the wastebasket of history. It should become something that ‘used’ to bother you. Past tense.

Now, be careful with that cork. Opening champagne can be dangerous.


Ps Lighter Notes

Vet Visit: Guy goes to the doctor carrying a Rottweiler and says: “He got sick this morning. I just gave him his normal feed and he’s been like this, completely lethargic all day.”

The vet takes the dog in his arms and says:

“I’ll have to put him down.”

“Jesus, why?”

“He’s too heavy.”

 Doctor Visit: Guy goes to the doctor and says: “This is a bit embarrassing.” The doctor replies that he’s seen all sorts and there is no need to be embarrassed.

 “Well, I don’t quite know what it is, but I seem to have a terrible smell all of the time. I shower twice a day and I’ve used every personal hygiene product on the market. Nothing’s working.”

Doc says: “Hymm. Tell me what you do for a living.”

Patient Says: “I’m an Elephant Bunger.”  

Doc: “I don’t really know what that job entails.”

Patient: “I’ve worked for Duffy’s Circus for 5 years. It’s not widely known that elephants have a ‘loose bowel.’ So, before each show I have to ‘insert a bung’ to stop them destroying the arena. Then, immediately after each show, I have to remove the bung. It can all get a bit messy.”

Doc: “Well, this is hardly a complex diagnosis. It’s simple. That’s where the smell is coming from. You will just have to leave that job.”

Patient: “WHAT! And give up show business” 

From Ger Coey: “Watched a program last night on how ships were built. It was riveting.”

On Getting Old….

 “One of the hardest decisions to make in life is when to start your sixties.” Zsa Zsa Gabor

“I recently turned 60. Practically, a third of my life is over.” Woody Allen

“One day when I was 45, I went into the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. When I came out, I was 68.” Thora Hird

“The greatest advantage of having babies in your 60’s is that you can both be in nappies at the same time.” Sue Kolinsky

“I’m at an age where my back goes out more than I do.” Phyllis Diller

“My mother is over 60 but she still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right from the bottle.” Zero Mostel

“When you get to 60, you lose interest in sex, your friends drift away and your children ignore you. There are other advantages too.” Richard Needham

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


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