managment fables

stories and analogies
illustrations and analogies for motivation, inspiration, learning and training
Here are some stories, analogies, research findings and other examples that provide wonderful illustrations for learning, and inspiration for self-development. Read here about the travellers and the monk, tickle me elmo, get in the wheelbarrow, the person who had feelings, the shoe box story, the scorpion and the frog, murphy’s plough, Pavlov’s dogs, the monkeys and the stairs, and more. Analogies, stories, fables and case-studies are great ways to illustrate business lessons. Stories, examples, fables and research references add colour and substance to presentations and reports, and reinforce learning of all types. Some of these stories are ironic and so can best be used to illustrate pitfalls and vulnerabilities rather than best practice. If you know who wrote any of the unattributed stories below please let us know so that credit can be given.
Read and enjoy and send me your own favourite stories and anecdotes.
It has been suggested to me that some of these stories might be offensive to certain people in certain situations. If you are a strong advocate of political correctness or are easily offended please don’t read this page, or the rest of this website, and for goodness sake don’t go near the acronyms page.
So, please don’t use any of these stories in any situations that might cause offence to people.

the william pitt story (working creatively to reach agreement, managing situations and environments, facilitation of agreements)

There is the story of William Pitt, 1759-1806, British statesman and Prime Minister from 1783-1801, who once sought to expedite a crucial agreement in Parliament for the movement of the British fleet to defend against the French. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Newcastle, had certain objections, but when Pitt called on the Chancellor endeavouring to resolve the differences, he found the Chancellor distinctly unhappy in bed suffering with gout. The bedroom was freezing, and when Pitt remarked on this, Lord Newcastle replied that the cold weather would hinder the fleet movement, but more particularly that the combination of the cold conditions and the gout would prevent any further discussion of the issue at that time, which Pitt quickly judged to be at the root of the problem. Begging the Chancellor’s pardon, Pitt calmly removed his boots, climbed into bed and drew up the covers (apparently there was another bed in the room..), whereupon the two were able to discuss the matter and soon agreed a united way forward.
the biscuit factory story (making assumptions, other people’s perspectives, individual needs and motivations)

This is a true story. Some years ago the following exchange was broadcast on an Open University sociology TV programme.
An interviewer was talking to a female production-line worker in a biscuit factory. The dialogue went like this:
Interviewer: How long have you worked here?
Production Lady: Since I left school (probably about 15 years).
Interviewer: What do you do?
Production Lady: I take packets of biscuits off the conveyor belt and put them into cardboard boxes.
Interviewer: Have you always done the same job?
Production Lady: Yes.
Interviewer: Do you enjoy it?
Production Lady: Oooh Yes, it’s great, everyone is so nice and friendly, we have a good laugh.
Interviewer (with a hint of disbelief): Really? Don’t you find it a bit boring?
Production Lady: Oh no, sometimes they change the biscuits…

My thanks to Shirley Moon for this lovely story, who also points out the following lessons within it:
Do not impose your own needs and ambitions on to other people who may not share them.
Don’t assume that things that motivate you will motivate someone else.
Recognise that sources of happiness may vary widely between people.
See also the sections on personality styles, multiple intelligence and learning styles, and motivation, which all relate to this story.
a short story about eggs (time management, creative thinking and problem-solving)
A young woman was in her kitchen.
A pan of water was simmering on the stove.
She was making boiled eggs for breakfast.
He walked in.
Their eyes met.
“Make love to me here, now,” she said.
They made love on the kitchen table.
“Couldn’t resist me, huh?” he said.
“The egg timer is broken,” she replied.

Of course this story is a bit far-fetched given that an egg timer lasts for three whole minutes..
(Ack Detoxman)
the translator story (communications, assumptions, creativity, deceit, language, relationships, just deserts)
The story goes that a prominent, married, philandering, wealthy politician took advantage of a young female Italian translator during an overseas visit. Shortly after his return home he received a phone call at his office from the woman informing him that she was pregnant and that he was definitely the father.
Seemingly experienced at dealing with such situations, the politician instructed the young woman, “I will arrange for you and the child to be provided for. Do not worry about money. I will pay ten times the typical Italian settlement, but this must be kept secret.”
“I see,” said the young woman, a little taken aback, but since she knew the man and his reputation she was not unduly surprised, and was also entirely happy never to see or speak to him again.
He went on, “Don’t ever call me again. Send me a postcard with some sort of coded message confirming date of birth, that the child is healthy and whether a boy or girl. Use your imagination – you are a translator after all.”
“As you wish,” said the young woman, and ended the call.
A little under nine months later the politician’s wife (who was also his PA) was opening his mail. When she came to a particular postcard the politician noticed and suddenly became attentive.
“Here’s a postcard…” said his wife.
“Oh yes,” said the politician, “What does it say?”
“Just a silly joke I think,” said his wife, continuing, as she watched the colour drain from her husband’s face, ” ‘It says: ‘March 12th – Just had three big beautiful bowls of spaghetti – all with meatballs..’ “
(Ack SF)
the helpful old lady story (check the facts, false assumptions, etc)
One afternoon, an old lady, laden with shopping, noticed two small boys on the front step of a house. With their bags and uniforms they were obviously going home after school. They were on tip-toe trying to reach the door-bell with a stick.
“Poor little lads, they can’t get in,” she thought, “Parents these days just don’t seem to care.”
So she marched up the path, reached over the boys and gave the bell a long firm push.
The surprised boys turned around and screamed “Quick, run!” and promptly disappeared over the garden wall.
the buddha and the abuse (responding to other people’s negative behaviour; angry customers, disruptive kids, bad-tempered bosses, etc)
A tale is told about the Buddha, Gautama (563-483BC), the Indian prince and spiritual leader whose teachings founded Buddhism. This short story illustrates that every one of us has the choice whether or not to take personal offence from another person’s behaviour.
It is said that on an occasion when the Buddha was teaching a group of people, he found himself on the receiving end of a fierce outburst of abuse from a bystander, who was for some reason very angry.
The Buddha listened patiently while the stranger vented his rage, and then the Buddha said to the group and to the stranger, “If someone gives a gift to another person, who then chooses to decline it, tell me, who would then own the gift? The giver or the person who refuses to accept the gift?”
“The giver,” said the group after a little thought. “Any fool can see that,” added the angry stranger.
“Then it follows, does it not,” said the Buddha, “Whenever a person tries to abuse us, or to unload their anger on us, we can each choose to decline or to accept the abuse; whether to make it ours or not. By our personal response to the abuse from another, we can choose who owns and keeps the bad feelings.”
(This is related to Transactional Analysis)
the gandhi shoe story (selfless compassion, generosity without strings)
Mohandas [Mahatma] Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), the great Indian statesman and spiritual leader is noted for his unusual humanity and selflessness, which this story epitomises. Gandhi was boarding a train one day with a number of companions and followers, when his shoe fell from his foot and disappeared in the gap between the train and platform. Unable to retrieve it, he took off his other shoe and threw it down by the first. Responding to the puzzlement of his fellow travellers, Gandhi explained that a poor person who finds a single shoe is no better off – what’s really helpful is finding a pair.
Separately, Gandhi was once asked what he thought of Western Civilisation. Gandhi replied: “I think that it would be a very good idea.”
The notion still applies.
(More inspirational and amusing quotes.)
greta garbo negotiation story (negotiation tactics, negotiating position, independence and the power of choice)
Great Garbo (1905-90), the 1930’s Swedish-born film star, demonstrated how to negotiate with a bullying adversary, and particularly the tactic of ‘walking away’. After Garbo had become established as a major star, she decided to negotiate a contract that suitably reflected her considerable box-office value to the producers. Accordingly she demanded a weekly fee of $5,000 – compared to the derisory $350 a week she’d previously been paid. When film mogul Louis Mayer heard Garbo’s demand he offered her $2,500. Garbo replied simply, in her Swedish-American accent, “I think I go home..” And off she went.
Garbo returned to her hotel and stayed there, not budging, while Mayer stewed – for seven months – at which Mayer eventually caved in and gave Garbo what she asked for.
(Interestingly Garbo never actually said, “I want to be alone”. There phrase was in fact “I want to be left alone,” which her character Grusinskaya said in Garbo’s 1932 film Grand Hotel. The resonance of the words with Garbo’s real life didn’t just extend to her negotiating style: she retired in 1941 with the world still at her feet, and lived the rest of her life an obsessive recluse in New York after becoming a US citizen in 1951.)
jesse james story (tactics, morality, good and bad in us all)
The notorious American Wild West bank robber Jesse James (1847-82) was hunted and demonised by the authorities, but was held in high regard by many ordinary folk. Here’s an example of why:
The story goes that Jesse James and his gang had taken refuge for a few days in ramshackle farmhouse after one of their raids. The old widow who lived there fed the men, and apologised for her modest offerings and the poor state of the accommodation. While the gang laid low, they learned from the widow that she faced eviction from her landlord and was expecting a visit from his debt collector any day. Taking pity on the old lady, as they left, the gang gave her some of the spoils of their robbery to settle her debt – several hundred dollars, which was a small fortune in those days. The gang moved on, but only to a nearby copse, where for a couple more days they watched and waited for the arrival – and departure – of the debt collector, whom they promptly held up and robbed.
Of course robbing anyone is bad, but if you’ve got to rob someone…
the gorilla story (negotiating, understanding communications, agreeing clear objectives and responsibilities)
A zoo had among its animals a female gorilla, whose mood was becoming increasingly difficult. The vet concluded that she was on heat and that a mate should be found. The vet contacted some other nearby zoos to find a partner for the broody female, but to no avail. The female gorilla’s behaviour continued to worsen, but the vet noticed that she grew calmer, and strangely responsive, whenever a particularly well-built and none-too-handsome keeper entered the enclosure. Being an unprincipled and adventurous fellow, the vet put an outrageous proposition to the keeper: For a fee of five hundred pounds would the keeper consider spending a little ‘quality time’ with the gorilla, purely in the interests of research of course?….
The keeper, also an unprincipled and adventurous fellow, pondered the suggestion, and after a few minutes agreed to the offer, subject to three conditions. The vet, intrigued, listened to the keeper’s demands:
“First,” the keeper said, “No kissing.”
“Fine,” said the vet.
“Second, no-one must ever know – if this gets out I’ll kill you.”
“You have my word,” said the vet, “And your final condition?”
“It’s just,” said the keeper a little awkwardly, “Can I have a couple of weeks to raise the five hundred quid?”
(With acknowledgements to Shane and apologies to vets and zoo-keepers everywhere.)
the priest and the politician story (time management, being late, public speaking)
After twenty-five years in the same parish, Father O’Shaunessey was saying his farewells at his retirement dinner. An eminent member of the congregation – a leading politician – had been asked to make a presentation and a short speech, but was late arriving.
So the priest took it upon himself to fill the time, and stood up to the microphone:
“I remember the first confession I heard here twenty-five years ago and it worried me as to what sort of place I’d come to… That first confession remains the worst I’ve ever heard. The chap confessed that he’d stolen a TV set from a neighbour and lied to the police when questioned, successfully blaming it on a local scallywag. He said that he’d stolen money from his parents and from his employer; that he’d had affairs with several of his friends’ wives; that he’d taken hard drugs, and had slept with his sister and given her VD. You can imagine what I thought… However I’m pleased to say that as the days passed I soon realised that this sad fellow was a frightful exception and that this parish was indeed a wonderful place full of kind and decent people…”
At this point the politician arrived and apologised for being late, and keen to take the stage, he immediately stepped up to the microphone and pulled his speech from his pocket:
“I’ll always remember when Father O’Shaunessey first came to our parish,” said the politician, “In fact, I’m pretty certain that I was the first person in the parish that he heard in confession…..”
(Ack Stephen Hart)
lipstick kisses on the mirror story (creative thinking, creative problem-solving, creative management techniques, avoiding confrontation)
A school head was alerted by the caretaker to a persistent problem in the girls lavatories: some of the girl students were leaving lipstick kisses on the mirrors. The caretaker had left notices on the toilet walls asking for the practice to cease, but to no avail; every evening the caretaker would wipe away the kisses, and the next day lots more kisses would be planted on the mirror. It had become a bit of a game. The head teacher usually took a creative approach to problem solving, and so the next day she asked a few girl representatives from each class to meet with her in the lavatory.
“Thank you for coming,” said the head, “You will see there are several lipstick kisses in the mirrors in this washroom..”
Some of the girls grinned at each other.
“As you will understand, modern lipstick is cleverly designed to stay on the lips, and so the lipstick is not easy at all to clean from the mirrors. We have therefore had to develop a special cleaning regime, and my hope is that when you see the effort involved you will help spread the word that we’d all be better off if those responsible for the kisses use tissue paper instead of the mirrors in future..”
At this point the caretaker stepped forward with a sponge squeegee, which he took into one of the toilet cubicles, dipped into the toilet bowl, and then used to clean one of the lipstick-covered mirrors.
The caretaker smiled. The girls departed. And there were no more lipstick kisses on the mirrors.
(Thanks H)
measuring by averages story (analysis, measurement, statistics, etc)
Three statisticians went hunting in the woods. Before long, one of them pointed to a plump pigeon in a tree, and the three of them stopped and took aim. The first fired, missing the bird by a couple of inches to the left. Immediately afterwards the second fired, but also missed, a couple of inches to the right. The third put down his gun exclaiming, “Great shooting lads, on average I reckon we got it…”
(ack K Hutchinson)
the blind golfers story (an ironic example of lack of empathy, and different people’s perspectives)
A clergyman, a doctor and a business consultant were playing golf together one day and were waiting for a particularly slow group ahead. The business consultant exclaimed, “What’s with these people? We’ve been waiting over half and hour! It’s a complete disgrace.” The doctor agreed, “They’re hopeless, I’ve never seen such a rabble on a golf course.” The clergyman spotted the approaching greenkeeper and asked him what was going on, “What’s happening with that group ahead of us? They’re surely too slow and useless to be playing, aren’t they?” The greenkeeper replied, “Oh, yes, that’s a group of blind fire-fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.” The three golfers fell silent for a moment. The clergyman said, “Oh dear, that’s so sad. I shall say some special prayers for them tonight.” The doctor added, rather meekly, “That’s a good thought. I’ll get in touch with an ophthalmic surgeon friend of mine to see if there’s anything that can be done for them.” After pondering the situation for a few seconds, the business consultant turned to the greenkeeper and asked, “Why can’t they play at night?”
(Other job-titles can be substituted instead of business consultant to suit the purpose of the story, for example, government advisor, venture capitalist, engineer, project manager, accountant, finance director, quality manager, etc)
the sales and marketing rugby analogy story (for teams, motivation, team-building, departmental cooperation, training, public speaking)
I am assured this is a true story. A consultant was asked to give a talk at a sales conference. The CEO asks him to focus on the importance of cooperation and teamwork between the sales and marketing teams, since neither group has a particularly high regard for the other, and the lack of cohesion and goodwill is hampering effectiveness and morale. The marketing staff constantly moan about the sales people ‘doing their own thing’ and ‘failing to follow central strategy’; and the sales people say that the marketing people are all ‘idle theorists who waste their time at exhibitions and agency lunches’ and have ‘never done a decent day’s work in their lives’.
Being a lover of rugby, the consultant decides to use the analogy of a rugby team’s forwards and backs working together to achieve the best team performance:
“……So, just as in the game of rugby, the forwards, like the marketing department, do the initial work to create the platform and to make the opportunities, and then pass the ball out to the backs, the sales department, who then use their skills and energy to score the tries. The forwards and the backs, just like marketing and sales, are each good at what they do: and they work together so that the team wins…” said the consultant, finishing his talk.
The audience seemed to respond positively, and the conference broke for lunch. At the bar the consultant asked one of the top sales-people what he’d thought of the analogy – had it given him food for thought?
“Yes, I see what you mean,” said the salesman, “It does make sense. The sales people – the backs, yes? – the backs need the marketing department – the forwards, yes? – to make the opportunities for us, so that we, the backs, can go and score the tries – to win the business. We work together as a team – each playing our own part – working as a team.”
The consultant beamed and nodded enthusiastically, only to be utterly dashed when the salesman added as an afterthought, “I still think our forwards are a bunch of wankers…”
(with thanks to Martin Deighton)
the lock and key story (kindness and generosity, ‘good pebble ripples’, memorable customer service experiences)
A British family were on holiday in a rented motor-home in the USA. Travelling through California they visited the Magic Mountain amusement park close by Los Angeles. Mid-afternoon, halfway through what was turning out to be a most enjoyable day at the park, Mum, Dad and the three kids came upon a particularly steep plummeting ride. In the queue, the ride attendants strongly warned everyone about the risks of losing hats, spectacles, coins and keys, etc., and these warnings were echoed by large signs around the ride. During the ride, Dad lost the keys.
Due to the fact that the motor-home was a replacement vehicle resulting from a breakdown earlier in the holiday, there were no spare keys. And there were six keys on the lost bunch: ignition, front doors, side door, fuel tank, propane tank, and storage cupboards.
The park attendants drove the family back to the motor-home, suggesting the least damaging ways to break into it.
Fortunately a window had been left slightly open, enabling the middle son to be put in and to open the doors from the inside.
Inside the motor-home Mum and Dad discussed what to do. They were stranded.
Middle son (all of six years old) said he’d got a key – said he’d found it – but no-one was listening properly. “Perhaps it will fit, I’ll get it.” (The optimism of young children of course knows no bounds.)
Not thinking for one second that little lad’s key would fit, Dad tried it. Incredibly the key fitted the ignition – and the driver’s door. Middle son is a hero. It seems he’d found the key in a cupboard when packing his clothes soon after the motor-homes were swapped after the first vehicle broke down.
The next day back at the camp site, Dad called a local locksmith to see what could be done.
“I might be able to make new keys from the locks, if you bring the vehicle to me,” said the locksmith, so the family drove to the locksmith, whose business was in a small shopping centre in the California countryside.
The locksmith looked at the motor-home, and said he’d try. “If you come back in an hour I’ll know better what I can do for you.”
The family went to the nearby shops and a coffee bar to pass the time. Dad returned to the locksmith to see how things were going. The locksmith says he thought he could make new keys for all the locks, but it would be a long job.
In fact the job took the locksmith most of the day. The family hung around the locksmiths, visited the shops again, and generally made a day of being at the little shopping centre. While working on the locks and the keys, the locksmith talked with the family about England, about America, about the rides at Las Vegas, about motor-homes, about business, about locks, about families and kids, about lots of things.
Late on in the afternoon the locksmith said that he’d nearly done – “But you have time to go get something to eat if you want. When you come back I’ll be done.” So the family went to a burger bar for something to eat.
An hour later the family returned to the locksmith’s shop. It was 4pm and they’d been at the shopping centre since 10.00 in the morning.
When Dad entered the locksmith’s shop the locksmith was smiling. He put two new gleaming bunches of keys on the counter. “Here you go – a new set of keys for all the locks, and a spare set too,” said the locksmith, “And I tell you what I’m going to do…”
Dad offered his credit card, gratefully.
“You know, I’ve had such a great time with you guys today,” says the locksmith, “You can have these for free.”

This is a true story. It happened over ten years ago. I still tell people about it now, like I’m telling you. The company is Newhall Valencia Lock & Key, in the El Centro Shopping Center, Canyon Country, California. This little company gave me and my family an experience that transcended customer service, and I was delighted when I found their business card in my kitchen drawer the other day, because it prompted me to share this story and to properly express my thanks.
Just a final note – I’m not suggesting that great customer service is about giving your products and services away. Obviously that’s not a particularly sustainable business model. What I’m saying though, is that there are times when you’ll see opportunity to do something really special for a customer, or for another human being, and when you do it, the ripples of your ‘good pebble’ can stretch around the world, and last for years and years. So, within the boundaries of what’s possible and viable for you, drop in a good pebble whenever you can and make some ripples of your own.
the stranger and the gingernuts story (making assumptions, think before you act, different perspectives)
At the airport after a tiring business trip a lady’s return flight was delayed. She went to the airport shop, bought a book, a coffee and a small packet containing five gingernut biscuits. The airport was crowded and she found a seat in the lounge, next to a stranger. After a few minutes’ reading she became absorbed in her book. She took a biscuit from the packet and began to drink her coffee. To her great surprise, the stranger in the next seat calmly took one of the biscuits and ate it. Stunned, she couldn’t bring herself to say anything, nor even to look at the stranger. Nervously she continued reading. After a few minutes she slowly picked up and ate the third biscuit. Incredibly, the stranger took the fourth gingernut and ate it, then to the woman’s amazement, he picked up the packet and offered her the last biscuit. This being too much to tolerate, the lady angrily picked up her belongings, gave the stranger an indignant scowl and marched off to the boarding gate, where her flight was now ready. Flustered and enraged, she reached inside her bag for her boarding ticket, and found her unopened packet of gingernuts…
(Adapted from a suggestion submitted by S Frost. Apparently the story appears in a variety of urban legends dating from at least 30 years ago, and is also described in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, book four, 1984, ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish’. Ack L Baldock.)
two funny stories to illustrate initiative and lateral thinking, and the importance of induction training
These (allegedly true) short stories provide amusing examples of lateral thinking and initiative, and staff training (or lack of) at the workplace. It is better to train people properly rather than assume that new starters have the necessary initiative to work out for themselves what they should be doing…..
While transporting some unfortunate mental patients from one secure place to another, the newly appointed bus driver stopped at a roadside restaurant for natural break. On his return to the bus, all twenty patients were gone. Being a resourceful fellow and fearing the consequences of his negligence, he drove to the next bus stop, where he claimed to be a replacement for the usual service. Allowing twenty people aboard, the driver made straight for his destination, where he warned staff at the gates that the ‘patients’ were deluded and extremely volatile. The angry ‘patients’ were duly removed, sedated and incarcerated, and remained in detention for three days, until staff were able to check the records and confirm their true identities. The actual patients were never found.
A new hotel employee was asked to clean the elevators and report back to the supervisor when the task was completed. When the employee failed to appear at the end of the day the supervisor assumed that like many others he had simply not liked the job and left. However, after four days the supervisor bumped into the new employee. He was cleaning in one of the elevators. “You surely haven’t been cleaning these elevators for four days, have you?” asked the supervisor, accusingly. “Yes sir,” said the employee, “This is a big job and I’ve not finished yet – do you realise there are over forty of them, two on each floor, and sometimes they are not even there….”
a story about communications, and men and women (communications, communications methods, relationships)
A man and his wife had been arguing all night, and as bedtime approached neither was speaking to the other. It was not unusual for the pair to continue this war of silence for two or three days, however, on this occasion the man was concerned; he needed to be awake at 4:30am the next morning to catch an important flight, and being a very heavy sleeper he normally relied on his wife to wake him. Cleverly, so he thought, while his wife was in the bathroom, he wrote on a piece of paper: ‘Please wake me at 4:30am – I have an important flight to catch’. He put the note on his wife’s pillow, then turned over and went to sleep.
The man awoke the next morning and looked at the clock. It was 8:00am. Enraged that he’d missed his flight, he was about to go in search of his errant wife to give her a piece of his mind, when he spotted a hand-written note on his bedside cabinet.
The note said: ‘It’s 4:30am – get up.’
the sergeant major and the rude parrot story (examples of management styles)
A retired sergeant major inherited a talking parrot from a recently departed relative who had run a busy dockside pub. For the first few days in his new home the normally talkative parrot was distinctly shy. The old major, despite his stern and disciplined ways, felt sorry for the bird, and gently encouraged it with soft words and pieces of fruit. After a week or so the parrot began to find its voice – a little at first – and then more so. Responding to the kind treatment, the parrot’s vocabulary continued to recover, including particularly the many colourful expressions it had been taught in the dockside pub. The old sergeant major began to be quite irritated by the parrot’s incessant rudeness, and after a few more days of worsening profanities, decided action was required to bring the bird under control. The sergeant major tried at first to incentivise the parrot with the promise of reward for good behaviour, but to no avail. He next tried to teach the bird a lesson by withdrawing its privileges, again to no avail; the parrot remained stubbornly rude. Finally the old major flipped into battleground management mode; he grabbed the bird, clamped his hands around its beak, and thrust the struggling, swearing parrot, into the top drawer of the freezer, slamming the door tightly shut. The swearing and struggling noises continued inside the freezer for a few seconds and then abruptly stopped. The sergeant major listened for a while and then, concerned that the parrot’s shock might have been terminal, carefully opened the freezer door and opened the drawer to look. The parrot slowly clambered out of the drawer and perched on its edge.
“I must apologise for my rude and disrespectful behaviour,” said the parrot, “I promise never to use bad language again. And by the way, what did the turkey do?”
the farmer and the boy in the bog story (helping others, inspiration, gratitude and appreciation, good comes from doing good)
This widely used story is often told as if it’s a true story. It is most certainly not. It is an urban legend, but even as such, the story contains great lessons and is very inspirational.
Fleming was a poor Scottish farmer. One day at work in a field he heard a cry for help. Following the sound, Fleming came to a deep bog, in which a boy was stuck up to his chest, screaming and sinking. Farmer Fleming tied a rope around his own waist and the other end to a tree, and waded into the bog. After a mighty struggle in which it seemed they would both perish, the exhausted farmer pulled himself and the boy to safety. He took the lad back to the farmhouse, where Mrs Fleming fed him, dried his clothes, and when satisfied he had recovered, sent him on his way home.
The next day a carriage arrived at the Fleming’s humble farmhouse. An well-dressed man stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy whom Fleming had saved. “You saved my son’s life,” said the man to Fleming, “How can I repay you?”
“I don’t want payment,” Fleming replied, “Anyone would have done the same.”
At that moment, Fleming’s own young son appeared at the farmhouse door.
“Is he your son?” the man asked.
“Yes,” said Fleming proudly.
“I have an idea. Let me pay for his education. If he’s like his father, he’ll grow to be a man we’ll both be proud of.”
And so he did. The farmer’s son attended the very best schools, graduated medical college, and later became the world-renowned nobel prize-winning scientist and discoverer of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming.
It is said that many years later, the grown man who’d been saved from the bog as a boy, was stricken with pneumonia.
Penicillin saved his life. His name? Sir Winston Churchill.
(I repeat this is an urban legend – it is not a true story – so I recommend you present it as such when you tell it. Ack B McFarlane)
the brewery story (to challenge belief systems and assumptions, and the need for questioning pointless routine or policy)
It has been suggested to me that this is a true story: A very old traditional brewery decided to install a new canning line, so as to enable its beer products to be marketed through the supermarket sector. This represented a major change for the little company, and local dignitaries and past employees were invited to witness the first running of the new canning line, which was followed by an buffet and drinks.
After the new line had been switched on successfully, and the formalities completed, the guests relaxed in small groups to chat and enjoy the buffet. In a quiet corner stood three men discussing trucks and transport and distribution, since one was the present distribution manager, and the other two were past holders of the post, having retired many years ago. The three men represented three generations of company distribution management, spanning over sixty years.
The present distribution manager confessed that his job was becoming more stressful because company policy required long deliveries be made on Monday and Tuesday, short deliveries on Fridays, and all other deliveries mid-week.
“It’s so difficult to schedule things efficiently – heaven knows what we’ll do with these new cans and the tight demands of the supermarkets…”
The other two men nodded in agreement.
“It was the same in my day,” sympathised the present manager’s predecessor, “It always seemed strange to me that trucks returning early on Mondays and Tuesdays couldn’t be used for little local runs, because the local deliveries had to be left until Friday..”
The third man nodded, and was thinking hard, struggling to recall the policy’s roots many years ago when he’d have been a junior in the despatch department. After a pause, the third man smiled and then ventured a suggestion.
“I think I remember now,” he said, “It was the horses….. During the Second World War fuel rationing was introduced. So we mothballed the trucks and went back to using the horses. On Mondays the horses were well-rested after the weekend – hence the long deliveries. By Friday the horses so tired they could only handle the short local drops…”
Soon after the opening of the new canning line the company changed its delivery policy.
(Ack R Chagar)
See also the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ story and the fish baking story and the monkey story.
corporate rowing competition story (identifying and managing performance improvement, establishing cause and accountability, theory x vs theory y, daft executive judgements)
The boards of the two fiercely competitive companies decided to organize a rowing match to challenge each other’s organisational and sporting abilities. The first company was strongly ‘theory X’: ruthless, autocratic, zero staff empowerment, etc. The second company was more ‘theory y’: a culture of developing people, devolved responsibility and decision-making.
Race day arrived. The Y company’s boat appeared from the boat-house first, with its crew: eight rowers and a helmsman (the cox). Next followed the X company boat and its crew – eight helmsmen and a single rower.
Not surprisingly the Y company’s boat won an easy victory.
The next day the X company board of directors held an inquest with the crew, to review what had been learned from the embarrassing defeat, which might be of benefit to the organization as a whole, and any future re-match.
After a long and wearing meeting the X company board finally came came to their decision. They concluded that the rower should be replaced immediately because clearly he had not listened well enough to the instructions he’d been given.
(Ack JJ Lasseur)
performance evaluation story (theory x shortcomings, management myopia)
Following a poor first-half year performance the board of Company X tasked a senior manager to investigate what was happening on the factory floor, since the directors believed poor productivity was at the root of the problem. While walking around the plant, the investigating manager came upon a large warehouse area where a man stood next to a pillar. The manager introduced himself as the person investigating performance on the factory floor, appointed by the board, and then asked the man by the pillar what he was doing. “It’s my job,” replied the man, “I was told to stand by this pillar.”
The investigator thanked the man for his cooperation and encouraged him to keep up the good work. The investigator next walked into a large packing area, where he saw another man standing next to a pillar. The investigator again introduced himself and asked the man what he was doing. “I’ve been told to stand by this pillar, so that’s what I do.” said the man.
Two weeks later the investigator completed his report and duly presented his findings to the board, who held a brief meeting to decide remedial action. The board called the investigator back into the room, thanked him for his work, and then instructed him to sack one of the men he’d found standing by pillars, since obviously this was a duplication of effort.
(Ac JJL)
no exit story (different perspectives, viewpoints, how different perspectives cause one thing to appear as two different things)
A person checks into a hotel for the first time in his life, and goes up to his room.
Five minutes later he calls the reception desk and says: “You’ve given me a room with no exit. How do I leave?”
The desk clerk says, “Sir, that’s absurd. Have you looked for the door?”
The person says, “Well, there’s one door that leads to the bathroom. There’s a second door that goes into the closet. And there’s a door I haven’t tried, but it has a ‘do not disturb’ sign on it.”
(Ack B McFarlane)
See also the blind men and the elephant story below.
the old couple story (positive/negative outlook, blame, attitude)
An elderly couple, married for sixty years, took a rare vacation. They were not well-off but were in good health, perhaps because the wife had insisted on a strict diet of healthy foods, no alcohol, no smoking, and lots of gym exercise for most of their lives. Sadly their plane crashed however, and duly they both entered heaven, where St Peter escorted them through the Pearly Gates, and into a waiting limousine. Driving through beautiful countryside they drew up at a beautiful mansion and were shown inside. It was furnished in gold and fine silks, with a splendid kitchen and a sumptuous lounge stocked with wonderful food and drink – there was even a waterfall in the master bathroom. A maid was hanging beautiful designer clothes in the walk-in wardrobes. They gasped in astonishment when St Peter said, “Welcome to heaven. This will be your home now.”
The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. “Nothing,” Peter replied, “this is your heavenly reward.”
The old man looked out of the window and saw a magnificent championship golf course.
“What are the green fees?” he asked suspiciously.
“This is heaven,” St Peter replied, “You can play for free whenever you wish.”
Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them.
Anticipating the old man’s next question, St Peter said, “Don’t ask, this is heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy.”
The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. “Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods, and the decaffeinated tea?” he asked.
“This is heaven. You can eat and drink as much as you like, and you will never get fat or sick.”
“I don’t need to go to the gym?” the old man pressed.
“Not unless you want to,” St Peter replied.
“No testing my sugar or blood pressure or…”
“Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself.”
The old man glared at his wife, “You and your bloody bran muffins. We could have been here ten years ago!”
(Ack CB)
two brothers and the geese story (initiative, responsibility, thinking outside the box, anticipating, strategic anticipation, adding value to service, value and reward)
Two sons work for their father on the family’s farm. The younger brother had for some years been given more responsibility and reward, and one day the older brother asks his father to explain why.
The father says, “First, go to the Kelly’s farm and see if they have any geese for sale – we need to add to our stock.”
The brother soon returns with the answer, “Yes they have five geese they can sell to us.”
That father then says, “Good, please ask them the price.”
The son returns with the answer, “The geese are £10 each.”
The father says, “Good, now ask if they can deliver the geese tomorrow.”
And duly the sone returns with the answer, “Yes, they can deliver the geese them tomorrow.”
The father asks the older brother to wait and listen, and then calls to the younger brother in a nearby field, “Go to the Davidson’s Farm and see if they have any geese for sale – we need to add to our stock.”
The younger brother soon returns with the answer, “Yes, they have five geese for £10 each, or ten geese for £8 each; and they can deliver them tomorrow – I asked them to deliver the five unless they heard otherwise from us in the next hour. And I agreed that if we want the extra five geese we could buy them at £6 each.”
The father turned to the older son, who nodded his head in appreciation – he now realised why his brother was given more responsibility and reward.
(adapted from a suggestion – thanks PI)
piano story (mentoring, coaching, understanding the other person’s development needs)
A mother wished to encourage her small girl’s interest in the piano and so took her a local concert featuring an excellent pianist. In the entrance foyer the mother met an old friend and the two stopped to talk. The little girl was keen to see inside the hall and so wandered off, unnoticed by her mother. The girl’s mother became concerned when she entered the hall and could see no sign of her daughter. Staff were notified and an announcement was made asking the audience to look out for the little lost girl. With the concert due to start, the little girl had still not been found. In preparation for the pianist’s entrance, the curtains drew aside, to reveal the little girl sitting at the great piano, focused in concentration, quietly picking out the notes of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.
The audience’s amusement turned to curiosity when the pianist entered the stage, walked up to the little girl, and said “Keep playing.”
The pianist sat down beside her, listened for a few seconds, and whispered some more words of encouragement. He then began quietly to play a bass accompaniment, and then a few bars later reached around the little girl to add more accompaniment. At the end of the impromptu performance the audience applauded loudly as the pianist took the little girl back to her seat to be reunited with her mother. The experience was inspirational for everyone, not least the small girl.
It takes just a few moments to make somebody’s day, to help someone with their own personal aims and dreams – especially someone who looks up to you for encouragement and support. (Ack PC)
angry customer story (funny customer service example)
Allegedly a true story from the old airport in Denver: a major airline had cancelled a very busy flight and a lone check-in agent is busy trying to sort out all the displaced passengers. A very angry and aggressive man barges his way to the front of the queue to confront her. He says says that he is flying first class and demands to go on the flight. The agent politely explains the situation and asks that people take their place in the queue. The man bellows at her, “Do you know who I am?” – at which the agent calmly picks up the microphone for the PA system, and announces to the airport, “This is (airline name) desk 64; we have a gentleman here who does not know who he is. If anyone can come and identify him please do so.” The man, now purple with rage, yells at her, “Well f**k you..” – to which the agent replies, “And you’ll have to stand in line for that as well, Sir…”
(Ack MS)
clap and cheer (positive attitude, taking pride in whatever you do)
A small boy was auditioning with his classmates for a school play. His mother knew that he’d set his heart on being in the play – just like all the other children hoped too – and she feared how he would react if he was not chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, the little boy’s mother went to the school gates to collect her son. The little lad rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. “Guess what Mum,” he shouted, and then said the words that provide a lesson to us all, “I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.”
(Ack F Laufs)
the bank story (a lesson in customer service, how bad policy encourages poor service)
I am assured this is a true story from a UK bank. The bank concerned had introduced a charge to be levied when people paid in money to be credited to an account held by a different bank. The charge was 50p and had been in force for about 6 months or so. A well to do, upper-class lady enters the bank and presents the cashier a cheque (check) which she asks to be paid into an account held by a different bank. The cashier duly tells the lady that there will be a charge of 50p. Indignantly, she tells him, “I wasn’t charged the last time.”
To which the cashier immediately replies, “Well that will be a pound then…”
(Ack MS)
the fish baking story (to challenge belief systems and assumptions, and illustrate pointless routine and the need for questioning)
A little girl was watching her mother prepare a fish for dinner. Her mother cut the head and tail off the fish and then placed it into a baking pan. The little girl asked her mother why she cut the head and tail off the fish. Her mother thought for a while and then said, “I’ve always done it that way – that’s how babicka (Czech for grandma) did it.”
Not satisfied with the answer, the little girl went to visit her grandma to find out why she cut the head and tail off the fish before baking it.
Grandma thought for a while and replied, “I don’t know. My mother always did it that way.”
So the little girl and the grandma went to visit great grandma to find ask if she knew the answer.
Great grandma thought for a while and said, “Because my baking pan was too small to fit in the whole fish”.
(Ack M Hamanova)
See also: the we’ve always done it that way story and the monkey story and the brewery story.
the donkey story (positive attitudes, turning problems into opportunities)
One day a farmer’s donkey fell into a well. The farmer frantically thought what to do as the stricken animal cried out to be rescued. With no obvious solution, the farmer regretfully concluded that as the donkey was old, and as the well needed to be filled in anyway, he should give up the idea of rescuing the beast, and simply fill in the well. Hopefully the poor animal would not suffer too much, he tried to persuade himself.
The farmer asked his neighbours help, and before long they all began to shovel earth quickly into the well. When the donkey realised what was happening he wailed and struggled, but then, to everyone’s relief, the noise stopped.
After a while the farmer looked down into the well and was astonished by what he saw. The donkey was still alive, and progressing towards the top of the well. The donkey had discovered that by shaking off the dirt instead of letting it cover him, he could keep stepping on top of the earth as the level rose. Soon the donkey was able to step up over the edge of the well, and he happily trotted off.
Life tends to shovel dirt on top of each of us from time to time. The trick is to shake it off and take a step up.
(Ack TB)
shepherd story (IT consultants, business consultancy, knowing your facts – ironic example)
A shepherd was tending his flock in a field, when a new sports car screeched to a stop on the road nearby in a cloud of dust. The driver, a young man in expensive designer clothes and sunglasses, leans out of the window and shouts over to the shepherd, “If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have here, can I take one?”
The shepherd looks up slowly up at the young man, then looks at his peaceful flock, and calmly answers, “Sure, why not?”
The young man steps out of his car holding a state-of-the-art palmtop pda, with which he proceeds to connects to a series of websites, first calling up satellite navigation system to pinpoint his location, then keying in the location to generate an ultra-high resolution picture of the field. After emailing the photo to an image processing facility, the processed data is returned, which he then feeds into an online database, and enters the parameters for a report. Within another few seconds a miniature printer in the car produces a full colour report containing several pages of analysis and results. The young man studies the data for a few more seconds and returns to the shepherd.
“You have exactly one-thousand five-hundred and eighty-six sheep, including three rams, and seven-hundred and twenty-two lambs.”
“That’s right,” says the shepherd, mildly impressed. “Well, I guess that means you get to take one of my sheep.”
The young man makes his choice and loads the animal onto the back seat of his car, at which the shepherd says, almost as an afterthought, “Hey there, if I can tell you what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?”
The young man, feeling confident, agrees.
“You’re a consultant,” says the shepherd.
“Wow, that’s right,” says the young man, taken aback, “How did you guess that?”
“No guessing required,” answers the shepherd, “You showed up here even though nobody called you. You took a fee for giving me an answer that already know, to a question I never asked, and you know nothing about my business. Now give me back my dog.”
(Ack S Faure)
speed camera story (creative thinking, teamwork, understanding and using modern technology – do not try this at home….)
This allegedly true story, supposedly leaked by the Australian Department of Transport, concerns four Australian young men and a mobile speed camera police van. Three of the four lads engaged the speed camera operators in conversation about the camera equipment, and the number of cars caught, etc., while the fourth unscrewed the van’s front registration plate. Bidding the police farewell, the lads returned home, screwed the registration plate to their own car and proceeded to complete 17 very fast round trips through the speed camera’s radar. The traffic penalties department subsequently issued 17 speeding tickets to itself.
a story of three engineers (different approaches to problem-solving, modern IT, etc)
A mechanical engineer, a systems engineer, and a software engineer are in a car driving down a steep mountain road when the brakes fail. The driver desperately pumps the brake pedal, trying to control the speeding vehicle around cliff-edge bends, while the passengers do their best not to panic. As the car hurtles towards an impossible corner the driver spots an escape route into a hedge and a haystack beyond, where the car eventually grinds to a surprisingly safe stop. The three engineers all get out, shaken, relieved, and take turns to assess the situation.
‘Hmm,’ says the mechanical engineer, ‘It looks like a brake line was leaking – let’s repair the split, bleed the brakes, and we should be able to get on our way…”
The systems engineer thinks for a while and says, ‘Maybe we need to contact the manufacturer and the dealer to confirm exactly what the problem is…”
The software engineer slowly climbs into the driver’s seat and, gesturing for the others to join him, says, ‘How about we get back on the road and see if it happens again?..’

(An alternative final line, suggested kindly and brilliantly by David Shiell, would be: “How about if we close all the windows and try again..”)
the sweet old couple (dangers of making assumptions, understand before you intervene)
A little old couple walked into a fast food restaurant. The little old man walked up to the counter, ordered the food, paid, and took the tray back to the table where the little old lady sat. On the tray was a hamburger, a small bag of fries and a drink. Carefully the old man cut the hamburger in two, and divided the fries into two neat piles. He sipped the drink and passed it to the little old lady, who took a sip and passed it back. A young man on a nearby table had watched the old couple and felt sorry for them. He offered to buy them another meal, but the old man politely declined, saying that they were used to sharing everything. The old man began to eat his food, but his wife sat still, not eating. The young continued to watch the couple. He still felt he should be offering to help. As the little old man finished eating, the old lady had still not started on her food. “Ma’am, why aren’t you eating?” asked the young man sympathetically.
The old lady looked up and said politely, “I’m waiting for the teeth..”
a lesson in gender empathy (a light-hearted illustration of the other person’s perspective; for johari window, empathy, NLP, etc)
Lifestyle and behaviour choices that men take for granted, and largely fail to realise that women cannot…
Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can be president.
You can never be pregnant.
You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
You can wear no T-shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just ‘too icky’.
You don’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental – $100.
People never stare at your chest when you’re talking to them.
The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.
New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
One mood – all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You almost never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays its original color.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.
Your belly usually hides your big hips.
One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can ‘do’ your nails with a pocket-knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for twenty-five relatives on 24th December in forty-five minutes.
(Ack CB – please contact us if you know the author)
aunt karen (relevance and reliability of lessons, morals and examples)
A teacher told her young class to ask their parents for a family story with a moral at the end of it, and to return the next day to tell their stories.
In the classroom the next day, Joe gave his example first, “My dad is a farmer and we have chickens. One day we were taking lots of eggs to market in a basket on the front seat of the truck when we hit a big bump in the road; the basket fell off the seat and all the eggs broke. The moral of the story is not to put all your eggs in one basket..”
“Very good,” said the teacher.
Next, Mary said, “We are farmers too. We had twenty eggs waiting to hatch, but when they did we only got ten chicks. The moral of this story is not to count your chickens before they’re hatched..”
“Very good,” said the teacher again, very pleased with the response so far.
Next it was Barney’s turn to tell his story: “My dad told me this story about my Aunt Karen…. Aunt Karen was a flight engineer in the war and her plane got hit. She had to bail out over enemy territory and all she had was a bottle of whiskey, a machine gun and a machete.”
“Go on,” said the teacher, intrigued.
“Aunt Karen drank the whiskey on the way down to prepare herself; then she landed right in the middle of a hundred enemy soldiers. She killed seventy of them with the machine gun until she ran out of bullets. Then she killed twenty more with the machete till the blade broke. And then she killed the last ten with her bare hands.”
“Good heavens,” said the horrified teacher, “What did your father say was the moral of that frightening story?”
“Stay away from Aunt Karen when she’s been drinking…”
(Ack CB – if you know the origin please tell us)
tickle me elmo (an induction training and communications story)
This allegedly took place in a factory in the USA which manufactured the ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ toys, (a children’s plush cuddly toy which laughs when tickled under the arm). The legend has is it that a new employee was hired at the Tickle Me Elmo factory and she duly reported for her first day’s induction training, prior to being allocated a job on the production line. At 08:45 the next day the personnel manager received a visit from an excited assembly line foreman who was not best pleased about the performance of the new recruit. The foreman explained that she was far too slow, and that she was causing the entire line to back-up, delaying the whole production schedule. The personnel manager asked to see what was happening, so both men proceeded to the factory floor. On arrival they saw that the line was indeed badly backed-up – there were hundreds of Tickle Me Elmos strewn all over the factory floor, and they were still piling up. Virtually buried in a mountain of toys sat the new employee earnestly focused on her work. She had a roll of red plush fabric and a bag of marbles. The two men watched amazed as she cut a little piece of fabric, wrapped it around a pair of marbles and carefully began sewing the little package between Elmo’s legs. The personnel manager began to laugh, and it was some while before he could compose himself, at which he approached the trainee. “I’m sorry,” he said to her, not able to disguise his amusement, “but I think you misunderstood the instructions I gave you yesterday…. Your job is to give Elmo two test tickles.”
get in the wheelbarrow (belief, trust and commitment)
The story goes: upon completing a highly dangerous tightrope walk over Niagara Falls in appalling wind and rain, ‘The Great Zumbrati’ was met by an enthusiastic supporter, who urged him to make a return trip, this time pushing a wheelbarrow, which the spectator had thoughtfully brought along.
The Great Zumbrati was reluctant, given the terrible conditions, but the supporter pressed him, “You can do it – I know you can,” he urged.
“You really believe I can do it?” asked Zumbrati.
“Yes – definitely – you can do it.” the supporter gushed.
“Okay,” said Zumbrati, “Get in the wheelbarrow…..”
parachutes (supporting others, acknowledging others)
Charles Plumb was a navy jet pilot. On his seventy-sixth combat mission, he was shot down and parachuted into enemy territory. He was captured and spent six years in prison. He survived and now lectures on the lessons he learned from his experiences.
One day, a man in approached Plumb and his wife in a restaurant, and said, “Are you Plumb the navy pilot?”
“Yes, how did you know?” asked Plumb.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.
Plumb was amazed – and grateful: “If the chute you packed hadn’t worked I wouldn’t be here today…”
Plumb refers to this in his lectures: his realisation that the anonymous sailors who packed the parachutes held the pilots’ lives in their hands, and yet the pilots never gave these sailors a second thought; never even said hello, let alone said thanks.
Now Plumb asks his audiences, “Who packs your parachutes?….. Who helps you through your life?…. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?……. Think about who helps you; recognise them and say thanks.”
(Ack JK, and thanks to the person who wrote to confirm that Charles Plum still speaks and lectures.)
spellchecker poem (check your meaning, and the perils of modern technology)
I halve a spelling checker,It came with my pea see.It plainly marks four my revueMistakes I dew knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a wordAnd weight four it two sayWeather eye am wrong oar writeIt shows me strait aweigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maidIt nose bee fore two longAnd eye can put the era riteIts rarely ever wrong.
I’ve scent this massage threw it,And I’m shore your pleased too noIts letter prefect in every weigh;My checker tolled me sew.
(If you no who rote it contact us)
chickens (communications story)
This is allegedly a true story. Engineers at a major aerospace company were instructed to test the effects of bird-strikes (notably geese) on the windshields of airliners and military jets. To simulate the effect of a goose colliding with an aircraft travelling at high speed, the test engineers built a powerful gun, with which they fired dead chickens at the windshields. The simulations using the gun and the dead chickens worked extremely effectively, happily proving the suitability of the windshields, and several articles about the project appeared in the testing industry press.
It so happened that another test laboratory in a different part of the world was involved in assessing bird-strikes – in this case on the windshields and drivers’ cabs of new very high speed trains. The train test engineers had read about the pioneering test developed by the aerospace team, and so they approached them to ask for specifications of the gun and the testing methods. The aerospace engineers duly gave them details, and the train engineers set about building their own simulation.
The simulated bird-strike tests on the train windshields and cabs produced shocking results. The supposed state-of-the-art shatter-proof high speed train windshields offered little resistance to the high-speed chickens; in fact every single windshield that was submitted for testing was smashed to pieces, along with a number of train cabs and much of the test booth itself.
The horrified train engineers were concerned that the new high speed trains required a safety technology that was beyond their experience, so they contacted the aerospace team for advice and suggestions, sending them an extensive report of the tests and failures.
The brief reply came back from the aero-engineers: “You need to defrost the chickens….”
(Ack S Money)
the chihuahua and the leopard (creative thinking)
A lady takes her pet chihuahua with her on a safari holiday. Wandering too far one day the chihuahua gets lost in the bush, and soon encounters a very hungry looking leopard. The chihuahua realises he’s in trouble, but, noticing some fresh bones on the ground, he settles down to chew on them, with his back to the big cat. As the leopard is about to leap, the chihuahua smacks his lips and exclaims loudly, “Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here.”
The leopard stops mid-stride, and slinks away into the trees.
“Phew,” says the leopard, “that was close – that evil little dog nearly had me.”
A monkey nearby sees everything and thinks he’ll win a favour by putting the stupid leopard straight. The chihuahua sees the monkey go after the leopard, and guesses he might be up to no good.
When the leopard hears the monkey’s story he feels angry at being made a fool, and offers the monkey a ride back to see him exact his revenge.
The little dog sees them approaching and fears the worse.
Thinking quickly, the little dog turns his back, pretends not to notice them, and when the pair are within earshot says aloud, “Now where’s that monkey got to? I sent him ages ago to bring me another leopard….”
the cannibals (a story about management)
A big corporation hired several cannibals. “You are all part of our team now,” said the HR manager during the welcome briefing. “You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please don’t eat any of the other employees.” The cannibals promised they would not.
A few weeks later the cannibals’ boss remarked, “You’re all working very hard, and I’m satisfied with you. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?” The cannibals all shook their heads, “No,” they said.
After the boss left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others angrily, “Right, which one of you idiots ate the secretary?”
A hand rose hesitantly in admission. “You fool!” said the leader, “For weeks we’ve been eating managers and no one noticed anything, but noooooo, you had to go and eat someone important!…”
(Ack A Fiorello)
the dog and the bone (be content with what you have – greed and envy seldom pay)
A dog held a juicy bone in his jaws as he crossed a bridge over a brook. When he looked down into the water he saw a another dog below with what appeared to be a bigger juicier bone. He jumped into the brook to snatch the bigger bone, letting go his own bone, He quickly learned of course that the bigger bone was just a reflection, and so he ended up with nothing.
(Thanks J Phillips – more Aesop’s fables here)
“we’ve always done it that way..” (time management, challenging habits and questioning procedures, challenging assumptions and belief systems)
Apparently this is based on a true incident. A quality management consultant was visiting a small and somewhat antiquated English manufacturing company, to advise on improving general operating efficiency. The advisor was reviewing a particular daily report which dealt with aspects of productivity, absentee rates, machine failure, down-time, etc. The report was completed manually onto a photocopied proforma that was several generations away from the original master-copy, so its headings and descriptions were quite difficult to understand. The photocopied forms were particularly fuzzy at the top-right corner, where a small box had a heading that was not clear at all. The advisor was interested to note that the figure ‘0’ had been written in every daily report for the past year. On questioning the members of staff who completed the report, they told him that they always put a zero in that box, and when he asked them why they looked at each other blankly. “Hmmm.., I’m not sure about that,” they each said, “I guess we’ve just always done it that way.”
Intrigued, the consultant visited the archives to see if he could find a clearer form, to discover what was originally being reported and whether it actually held any significance. When he found the old reports, he saw that the zero return had continued uninterrupted for as far back as the records extended – at least the past thirty years – but none of the forms was any clearer than those presently in use. A little frustrated, he packed away the old papers and turned to leave the room, but something caught his eye. In another box he noticed a folder, promisingly titled ‘master forms’. Sure enough inside it he found the original daily report proforma master-copy, in pristine condition. In the top right corner was the mysterious box, with the heading clearly shown …… ‘Number of Air Raids Today’.
See also the brewery story, the fish baking story and the monkey story.
the dam story (how to write a good letter, making assumptions, jumping to conclusions, and how to defend wrong accusations with humour)
Here are two letters, according to the story both real, the first allegedly sent to a man named Ryan DeVries by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan; the second is Mr DeVries’ amusing response. The letters provide a great example of the dangers of making assumptions and jumping to conclusions, and also how to reply to a false accusation with humour and style.
the Michigan DOEQ letter
Subject: DEQ File No.97-59-0023;T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;Montcalm County
Dear Mr. DeVries,
It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:
Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.
A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department’s files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.
The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2003. Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that our staff may schedule a follow-up site inspection.
Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action. We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.
Sincerely, District Representative Land and Water Management Division
Mr Devries’ letter response
Dear Sirs,
Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Montcalm County.
Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me to respond to. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan. A couple of beavers are in the process (State unauthorized) of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials “debris”.
I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic. As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.
My first dam question to you is: (1) are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or (2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.
I have several concerns. My first concern is: aren’t the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation, so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing flooding is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling them dam names. If you want the stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers, but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.
In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers’ Dams). So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2003? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.
In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!) Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.
Thank you
Ryan Devries and the Dam Beavers

Footnote: I’m grateful to J DeKorne for pointing out that these letters are in fact based on real correspondence involving Stephen Tvedten of Marne, Michigan. The original letters are here.

the blind men and the elephant (perception, truth, perspective, empathy, communications and understanding)
There are various versions of the story of the blind men and the elephant. The blind men and the elephant is a legend that appears in different cultures – notably China, Africa and India – and the tale dates back thousands of years. Some versions of the story feature three blind men, others five or six, but the message is always the same. Here’s a story of the six blind men and the elephant:
Six blind men were discussing exactly what they believed an elephant to be, since each had heard how strange the creature was, yet none had ever seen one before. So the blind men agreed to find an elephant and discover what the animal was really like.
It didn’t take the blind men long to find an elephant at a nearby market. The first blind man approached the beast and felt the animal’s firm flat side. “It seems to me that the elephant is just like a wall,” he said to his friends.
The second blind man reached out and touched one of the elephant’s tusks. “No, this is round and smooth and sharp – the elephant is like a spear.”
Intrigued, the third blind man stepped up to the elephant and touched its trunk. “Well, I can’t agree with either of you; I feel a squirming writhing thing – surely the elephant is just like a snake.”
The fourth blind man was of course by now quite puzzled. So he reached out, and felt the elephant’s leg. “You are all talking complete nonsense,” he said, “because clearly the elephant is just like a tree.”
Utterly confused, the fifth blind man stepped forward and grabbed one of the elephant’s ears. “You must all be mad – an elephant is exactly like a fan.”
Duly, the sixth man approached, and, holding the beast’s tail, disagreed again. “It’s nothing like any of your descriptions – the elephant is just like a rope.”
And all six blind men continued to argue, based on their own particular experiences, as to what they thought an elephant was like. It was an argument that they were never able to resolve. Each of them was concerned only with their own idea. None of them had the full picture, and none could see any of the other’s point of view. Each man saw the elephant as something quite different, and while in part each blind man was right, none was wholly correct.
There is never just one way to look at something – there are always different perspectives, meanings, and perceptions, depending on who is looking.

See also the no exit story above for another analogy about different perspectives.
the owl and the field-mouse story (on executive policy-making)
A little field-mouse was lost in a dense wood, unable to find his way out. He came upon a wise old owl sitting in a tree. “Please help me, wise old owl, how can I get out of this wood?” said the field-mouse.
“Easy,” said the owl, “Grow wings and fly out, as I do.”
“But how can I grow wings?” asked the mouse.
The owl looked at him haughtily, sniffed disdainfully, and said, “Don’t bother me with the details, I only decide the policy.”
(Thanks P Boden)
‘…let me through I’m a doctor…’ alternatives (comment on modern times)
The scene, a minor road accident. The casualty is lying on the ground, surrounded by the inevitable crowd of onlookers. A stranger endeavours to push his way through the gathering, saying, “Make way, please. Let me through, I’m a counsellor”. (Ack. PB)
Alternatively: “… Let me through I’m a lawyer..” (or a journalist, TV reporter, etc..)
aircraft engineering support (lessons in communications and support service)
According to the story, after every Quantas Airlines flight the pilots complete a a ‘gripe sheet’ report, which conveys to the ground crew engineers any mechanical problems on the aircraft during the flight. The engineer reads the form, corrects the problem, then writes details of action taken on the lower section of the form for the pilot to review before the next flight. It is clear from the examples below that ground crew engineers have a keen sense of humour – these are supposedly real extracts from gripe forms completed by pilots with the solution responses by the engineers. Incidentally, Quantas has the best safety record of all the world’s major airlines.
(1 = The problem logged by the pilot.) (2 = The solution and action taken by the mechanics.)
Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
Almost replaced left inside main tire.
Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
Something loose in cockpit.
Something tightened in cockpit.
Dead bugs on windshield.
Live bugs on back-order.
Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
Cannot reproduce problem on ground.
Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
Evidence removed.
DME volume unbelievably loud.
DME volume set to more believable level.
Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
That’s what they’re there for.
IFF inoperative.
IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
Suspected crack in windshield.
Suspect you’re right.
Number 3 engine missing.
Engine found on right wing after brief search.
Aircraft handles funny.
Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
Target radar hums.
Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
Mouse in cockpit.
Cat installed.
Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
Took hammer away from midget.
If you like stories and examples like these see also the tree swing pictures, which also provide an amusing and useful comment on departmental relationships, customer service and organizational communications.
(Ack. CB)
the rat and the lion (do good, what goes around comes around)
One day a small rat surfaced from his nest to find himself between the paws of a huge sleeping lion, which immediately awoke and seized the rat. The rat pleaded with the fierce beast to be set free, and the lion, being very noble and wise, and in no need of such small prey, agreed to let the relieved rat go on his way.
Some days later in the same part of the forest, a hunter had laid a trap for the lion, and it duly caught him, so that the lion was trussed up in a strong net, helpless, with nothing to do than wait for the hunter to return.
But it was the rat who came along next, and seeing the lion in need of help, promptly set about biting and gnawing through the net, which soon began to unravel, setting the great lion free.
The moral of the story is of course to make the world your debtor – even the humblest of folk may one day be of use.
the two mules (show off expensive things at your peril)
Two mules travelled regularly together with their loads, from their town to the city. The first mule, a humble beast, wore a tatty cloak, and carried sacks of oats for the miller. The second mule was an arrogant animal, who wore a fine coat with jingling bells. He carried gold and silver coins for the tax collector, and loved to brag about his responsibility and importance. Running late one day, the second mule suggested taking a short-cut, off the main road, despite his companion’s warnings about the risks of taking such a dangerous route. Sure enough, before too long, thieves attacked the second mule, stealing his valuable load, and leaving him injured by the roadside.
“But why me?” moaned the stricken animal, “I am attacked and robbed while the vagabonds leave you untouched?”
“I think even in this desperate place no thief would be interested in a poor miller’s slave, or my humble load!” said the first mule, “But you ventured down this dangerous track and made a show of yourself – you have only yourself to blame.”
the travellers and the monk story (attitude and outlook)
One day a traveller was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another. As he walked he noticed a monk tending the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said “Good day” to the traveller, and the traveller nodded to the monk. The traveller then turned to the monk and said “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?”.
“Not at all,” replied the monk.
“I am travelling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?”
“Tell me,” said the monk, “What was your experience of the village in the mountains?”
“Dreadful,” replied the traveller, “to be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves, they don’t take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?”
“I am sorry to tell you,” said the monk, “but I think your experience will be much the same there”.
The traveller hung his head despondently and walked on.
A while later another traveller was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the monk.
“I’m going to the village in the valley,” said the second traveller, “Do you know what it is like?”
“I do,” replied the monk “But first tell me – where have you come from?”
“I’ve come from the village in the mountains.”
“And how was that?”
“It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to travelling on. I felt as though I was a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me and people were generally kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?” he asked again.
“I think you will find it much the same” replied the monk, “Good day to you”.
“Good day and thank you,” the traveller replied, smiled, and journeyed on.
(Thanks Carrie Birmingham)
the person who had feelings story (transactional analysis, conditioning and behaviour) by barbara dunlap
Once there was a very small person who had feelings. They had many feelings and felt them every day. Their family liked them when they showed their feelings, so the very small person started to wear their feelings on their sleeve. One day one of the small person’s parents said that they didn’t like to see the FEAR feeling any more, so the small person tried to pull it off. The parent said that they would give the small person some TOUGH to cover over their FEAR. The small person found it very difficult to cover the FEAR with the TOUGH, so the other parent and the grandparents all helped. It took many days. “Now you look wonderful,” said the parents when it was done. “We’ve covered some of your feelings with TOUGH, and you’ll grow into a strong person.”
The small person grew a little older and found a friend. The friend also wore their feelings on their sleeve. The friend said one day, “My parents want me to cover up my LONELY feelings, and to be different from now on.” And they were. The small person decided to cover over their LONELY feelings too, and they got ANGRY from another adult. The small person put big patches of ANGRY on top of their LONELY. It was hard work to cover over the LONELY feelings.
One day when the small person (who was now not so small) went to school some of their LONELY feelings started to show. So the teacher kept them behind an gave them some GUILT to cover their LONELY feelings. Sometimes when alone at night the person would look at their feelings. The would pull off the TOUGH and ANGRY and GUILT to look at their LONELY and FEAR. Then they would have to take a long time putting the TOUGH, ANGRY and GUILT back again.
One night the person noticed that their LONELY and FEAR were growing, and beginning to stick out from under the patches. So the person had to go out to find some more ANGRY to cover the LONELY, and got all the TOUGH that their parents could spare to cover their FEAR.
The person grew older and became very popular because everyone said that they could hide their feelings well. The person’s parents said one day that they had a PROUD feeling because the person had been so TOUGH. But the person could not find anywhere to put the PROUD feeling because the TOUGH was getting so big. The person had trouble finding room on their sleeve for any other feelings – the TOUGH and the ANGRY were all that showed.
Then after a time the person met another person and they became friends. They thought that they were a lot alike because they both had only TOUGH and ANGRY feelings that showed. One day the friend told the person a secret: “I’m not really like you – my TOUGH and ANGRY are only patches to cover over my LONELY and my FEAR.” The friend pulled back the edge of their TOUGH and showed the person their FEAR; just for a second.
The person sat quietly and did not speak. Then carefully they too pulled back the edge of their TOUGH and showed their FEAR. The friend saw the LONELY underneath. Then the friend gently reached out and touched the person’s FEAR, and then the LONELY……. The friend’s touch was like magic. A feeling of ACCEPTANCE appeared on the person’s sleeve, and the TOUGH and ANGRY had become smaller. The person then knew that whenever someone gave them ACCEPTANCE, they would need less TOUGH, and then there would be more room to show PROUD….. SAD ……. LOVING…. STRONG…. GOOD…. WARM… HURT… FEAR….
(Ack. Chris Davidson and Protective Behaviour “This wonderful story was found by chance. We acknowledge whoever was inspired to write it and apologise for not being able to give them credit by name…”)
Written by Barbara Dunlap (thanks Kati Collinson).
See also the wonderful and cynical ‘this be the verse’ by Philip Larkin on the subject of parental conditioning.
human resources tale
A highly successful Human Resources Manager was tragically knocked down by a bus and killed. Her soul arrived at the Pearly Gates, where St. Peter welcomed her:
“Before you get settled in,” he said, “We have a little problem… you see, we’ve never had a Human Resources Manager make it this far before and we’re not really sure what to do with you.”
“Oh, I see,” said the woman. “Can’t you just let me in?”
“Well, I’d like to,” said St Peter, “But I have higher orders. We’re instructed to let you have a day in hell and a day in heaven, and then you are to choose where you’d like to go for all eternity.”
“Actually, I think I’d prefer heaven”, said the woman.
“Sorry, we have rules…” at which St. Peter put the HR Manager into the downward bound elevator.
As the doors opened in hell she stepped out onto a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country club; around her were many friends – past fellow executives, all smartly dressed, happy, and cheering for her. They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks and they talked about old times. They played a perfect round of golf and afterwards went to the country club where she enjoyed a superb steak and lobster dinner. She met the Devil, who was actually rather nice, and she had a wonderful night telling jokes and dancing. Before she knew it, it was time to leave; everyone shook her hand and waved goodbye as she stepped into the elevator. The elevator went back up to heaven where St. Peter was waiting for her.
“Now it’s time to spend a day in heaven,” he said.
So she spent the next 24 hours lounging around on clouds and playing the harp and singing, which was almost as enjoyable as her day in hell. At the day’s end St Peter returned.
“So,” he said, “You’ve spent a day in hell and you’ve spent a day in heaven. You must choose between the two.”
The woman thought for a second and replied, “Well, heaven is certainly lovely, but I actually had a better time in hell. I choose hell.”
Accordingly, St. Peter took her to the elevator again and she went back down to hell.
When the doors of the elevator opened she found herself standing in a desolate wasteland covered in garbage and filth. She saw her friends dressed in rags, picking up rubbish and putting it in old sacks. The Devil approached and put his arm around her.
“I don’t understand,” stuttered the HR Manager, “Yesterday I was here, and there was a golf course, and a country club, and we ate lobster, and we danced and had a wonderful happy time. Now all there’s just a dirty wasteland of garbage and all my friends look miserable.”
The Devil looked at her and smiled. “Yesterday we were recruiting you, today you’re staff.”
(Thanks CB and CC)
the shoe box story – on delusion…
There was once a man and woman who had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about. For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife’s bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted doilies and a stack of money totaling $25,000. He asked her about the contents. “When we were to be married,” she said, “my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doily.” The little old man was so moved, he had to fight back tears. Only two precious doilies were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness. “Honey,” he said, “that explains the doilies, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?” “Oh,” she said, “that’s the money I made from selling the doilies.” (Thanks C Byrd)
the businessman and the fisherman (change for change’s sake, and the purpose of life – also now featured on a ‘Kit-Kat’ snack-bar TV advert)
A management consultant, on holiday in a African fishing village, watched a little fishing boat dock at the quayside. Noting the quality of the fish, the consultant asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them.
“Not very long.” answered the fisherman.
“Then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the consultant.
The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
The consultant asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have an afternoon’s rest under a coconut tree. In the evenings, I go into the community hall to see my friends, have a few beers, play the drums, and sing a few songs….. I have a full and happy life.” replied the fisherman.
The consultant ventured, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you…… You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have a large fleet. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to a city here or maybe even in the United Kingdom, from where you can direct your huge enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” asked the fisherman.
“Oh, ten, maybe twenty years.” replied the consultant.
“And after that?” asked the fisherman.
“After that? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the consultant, laughing, “When your business gets really big, you can start selling shares in your company and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?” pressed the fisherman.
“After that you’ll be able to retire, move out to a small village by the sea, sleep in late every day, spend time with your family, go fishing, take afternoon naps under a coconut tree, and spend relaxing evenings havings drinks with friends…”
(Ack Jean Kent)
microsoft tale
A different slant on the human resources tale above…
In 2050 A.D. Bill Gates dies in a car accident. He finds himself in the Purgatory waiting room, when God enters…
“Well, Bill,” says God, “I’m confused. I’m not sure whether to send you to Heaven or Hell: you helped society enormously by putting a computer in almost every home in the world, and yet you’ve also created some of the most unearthly frustrations known to mankind. I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: I’m going to let you choose where you want to go.”
Bill replies, “Well, thanks, God. What’s the difference between the two?”
God says, “I’m willing to let you visit both places briefly to help you make your decision.”
“Okay, where should I go first?” asks Bill.
God says, “That’s up to you.”
Bill says, “OK, let’s try Hell first.”
So Bill goes to Hell. It’s a beautiful, clean, sandy beach with clear waters. There are thousands of beautiful women running around, playing in the water, laughing and frolicking about. The sun is shining, the temperature is just right. The whole thing looks perfect, and Bill is very pleased.
“This is great!” he tells God, “If this is Hell, I REALLY want to see Heaven!”
“Fine,” says God, and off they go.
Heaven is a high place in the clouds, with angels drifting about playing harps and singing. It very nice but not as enticing as Hell. Bill thinks for a moment and announces his decision.
“Hmm, I think I prefer Hell.” he tells God.
“Fine,” says God, “As you desire.”
So Bill Gates is taken to Hell.
Two weeks later, God decides to check up on Bill to see how he’s doing in Hell. When God arrives in Hell, he finds Bill shackled to a wall, screaming amongst the hot flames in a dark cave. He’s being burned and tortured by demons.
“How’s everything going, Bill?” God asks.
Bill replies, his voice full of anguish and disappointment, “This is awful, it’s not what I expected at all, I can’t believe it. What happened to that other place with the beaches and the beautiful women playing in the water?”
God smiles and says, “That was the screen saver.”
(Ack CB and JM)
it will for that one
A small boy was walking along a beach at low tide, where countless thousands of small sea creatures, having been washed up, were stranded and doomed to perish. A man watched as the boy picked up individual creatures and took them back into the water.
“I can see you’re being very kind,” said the watching man, “But there must be a million of them; it can’t possibly make any difference.”
Returning from the water’s edge, the boy said, “It will for that one.”
a negotiation story
A sales-woman is driving home in the rain when she sees a little old lady walking by the roadside, heavily laden with shopping. Being a kindly soul, the sales-woman stops the car and invites the old lady to climb in. During their small talk, the old lady glances surreptitiously at a brown paper bag on the front seat between them. “If you are wondering what’s in the bag,” offers the sales-woman, “It’s a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband.” The little old lady is silent for a while, nods several times, and says …….. “Good trade.”
david mcclelland’s achievement motivation experiment
A pioneering thinker in the field of workplace motivation, David McClelland developed his theories chiefly while at Harvard in the 1950-60’s with experiments such as this: Volunteers were asked to throw rings over pegs rather like the fairground game; no distance was stipulated, and most people seemed to throw from arbitrary, random distances, sometimes close, sometimes farther away. However a small group of volunteers, whom McClelland suggested were strongly achievement-motivated, took some care to measure and test distances that would produce an ideal challenge – not too easy, and not impossible. Interestingly a parallel exists in biology, known as the ‘overload principle’, which is commony applied to fitness and exercising, ie., in order to develop fitness and/or strength the exercise must be sufficiently demanding to increase existing levels, but not so demanding as to cause damage or strain. McClelland identified the same need for a ‘balanced challenge’ in the approach of achievement-motivated people. People with a strong achievement-motivation need set themselves challenging and realistic goals – they need the challenge, but they also need to be sure they’ll accomplish the aim.
More information about David McClelland’s motivational theories.
the butterfly
A man found a cocoon for a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared stuck.
The man decided to help the butterfly and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. Something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shrivelled wings. The man watched the butterfly expecting it to take on its correct proportions. But nothing changed.
The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man did not realise that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight.
Like the sapling which grows strong from being buffeted by the wind, in life we all need to struggle sometimes to make us strong.
(Ack. Paul Matthews)
judging people can be difficult
Fred and Mabel were both patients in a mental hospital. One day as they both walked beside the swimming pool, Mabel jumped into the deep end and sank to the bottom. Without a thought for his own safety, Fred jumped in after her, brought her to the surface, hauled her out, gave her the kiss of life and saved her.
The next day happened to be Fred’s annual review. He was brought before the hospital board, where the director told him, “Fred, I have some good news and some bad news: the good news is that in light of your heroic act yesterday we consider that you are sane and can be released from this home back into society. The bad news is, I’m afraid, that Mabel, the patient you saved, shortly afterwards hung herself in the bathroom with the belt from her bathrobe. I’m sorry but she’s dead”
“She didn’t hang herself,” Fred replied, “I put her there to dry.”
butcher story – on business ethics – chickens come home to roost…
A butcher, who had had a particularly good day, proudly flipped his last chicken on a scale and weighed it. “That will be £6.35,” he told the customer.
“That’s a good price, but it really is a little too small,” said the woman. “Don’t you have anything larger?”
Hesitating, but thinking fast, the clerk returned the chicken to the refrigerator, paused a moment, then took it out again.
“This one,” he said faintly, ” will be £6.65.”
The woman paused for a moment, then made her decision…
“I know what,” she said, “I’ll take both of them!”
(Thanks Doug Boit)
pavlov’s dogs
Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who lived from 1849-1936. He founded the Institute of Experimental Medicine in 1890, where his primary interest was digestion.
Pavlov’s Dogs is the name given to Ivan Pavlov’s seminal research in the early 20th century which established some essential principles of Classical Conditioning in the field of human psychology. Classical Conditioning concerns ‘learned’ or conditioned behaviour, (which also forms the basis of behaviour therapy).
We all have behaviours that we might seek to change. The Pavlov’s Dogs illustration helps us to understand more about why we respond sometimes irrationally to certain situations.
Pavlov’s Dogs provides a wonderful and true example for anyone seeking to explain or understand how our past experiences can prompt certain behaviours in the future, for example, phobias (irrational fears), neurosis (severe nervous or emotional responses to particular situations), and even mild feelings of concern or anxiety that virtually all of us are prone to in one way or another (eg., public speaking, fear of heights, flying, being reprimanded or tested, etc.)
The initial Pavlov’s Dogs experiment was simply to place a dog in a sound-proof, smell-proof cubicle, with no outside view – a controlled environment in other words. A sound was made when food was given to the dog, and the amount of salivation the dog produced was measured. After repeating this several times (called ‘trials’), the sound was made but no food was given. The dog still salivated.
This simple experiment established that the dog did not necessarily need the food in order to respond to food. The dog was responding to a stimulus or ‘trigger’ that produced the same response as the real thing. Pavlov could make the dog salivate whenever the sound was made.
This is expressed technically: a ‘Conditioned Stimulus’ (the sound) can produce a ‘Conditioned Response’ (the salivation), which was the same ‘Unconditioned Response’ (salivation in response to food) for the original ‘Unconditioned Stimulus’ (the food).
Pavlov also proved that slightly different sounds to the original Conditioned Stimulus produced a similar Conditioned Response, which he called ‘Generalisation’. Pavlov also obtained the same results by showing the dog a shape (a circle for food), and then established a level of ‘Discrimination’ by showing an oval when there was no food.
By continually repeating the Conditioned Stimulus, the Conditioned response was seen to weaken, and then eventually to cease, which he called ‘Extinction’. Surprisingly though, a after a day or two, when the Conditioned Stimulus (sound) was started again the dog again produced the Conditioned Response (salivation), which is called ‘Spontaneous Recovery’. This showed that conditioned behaviours can become very deeply embedded and well established.
Classical Conditioning is responsible for all behaviour that involves ‘Reflexes’ – heart-rate, perspiration, muscle-tension, etc. Think about your own anxieties that produce these reactions – they are Conditioned Responses from something (a Conditioned Stimulus) that you experienced in the past. Note also that if the original response is very strong, the conditioning can result from a single event, technically referred to as ‘One Trial Learning’.
If you find this interesting see also transational analysis, and read the book The Primal Scream by Dr Arthur Janov.
beans up the nose
This lovely analogy illustrates how accentuating the negative can often produce the very result you are seeking to avoid. The metaphor is so strong that it gave rise to the expression ‘Beans up the Nose’, meaning to increase the likelihood of unwanted result by highlighting the potential for it to happen. Beans up the Nose is a great way to emphasise the need for managers to accentuate the positive – not the negative – when communicating instructions to their people.
A mother was preparing a meal for her young son. She emptied a tin of beans into a saucepan and put them on the stove to cook. Just then the phone rang – she was expecting a call and wanted to take it. Mindful that she’d be leaving her little boy unsupervised for a minute or two, and wanting to prevent him doing anything daft while she was out of the room, she firmly told him, “Stay here while I answer the phone. I’ll be back soon; don’t misbehave, and whatever you do, don’t go putting those beans up your nose…….”
elton mayo – the hawthorne effect
The Hawthorne Effect: the proposition that workers are more motivated more by emotional than economic factors (ie., by being involved and feeling important, rather than by an improvement in workplace conditions).
So called after workplace behavioural research by Elton Mayo at the Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne plant in Cicero, Chicago, 1927-32, which ran on without Mayo until 1937. Mayo was a founding father of industrial psychology, attached to Harvard University as professor of industrial research from 1926, laying the foundations for later gurus, notably Herzberg (Motivation and Hygiene Factors), Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs), McGregor (XY Theory), Peters and Waterman (‘In Search of Excellence’ etc).
At a peak, 20,000 Western Electric employees were subject to research by a team of Harvard scientists and up to 100 investigators. This massive ten year programme grew from the initial experiment in which improved lighting was installed to assess the effect on workers’ motivation and productivity. Sure enough, productivity increased, but productivity also increased in the ‘control group’ of workers where conditions were unchanged, except that they were informed they were part of the study. This was perhaps the earliest significant demonstration that people are not actually motivated by improving their workplace conditions (‘Taylorism’ – after FW Taylor – had been the common view, in which money and conditions were thought to be the prime motivators). The Hawthorne Effect, and the experiments at the Hawthorne plant, proved that people are mainly motivated not by economic factors, but emotional factors, such as feeling involved and receiving attention.
US navy stand-off story – how not to negotiate
This is the alleged transcript of an actual radio conversation between a US naval ship and Canadian maritime contact of the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995.
Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees North to avoid a collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees South to avoid collision.
Americans: This is the captain of a US navy ship; I say again divert your course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES’ ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT’S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.
Canadians: We are a lighthouse; your call.
the room service story (understanding, communicating, interpretation, empathy, meaning)
This story was widely circulated by email around 2001-2, within which it was alleged to be the genuine transcript of a telephone conversation between a guest and room-service in a hotel in Asia in the late 1990’s, and it supposedly appeared in an item published in the Far East Economic Review. This is all false however:
Room Service is in fact a chapter from US comedian Shelley Berman’s book ‘A Hotel Is A Funny Place’. In truth the incident portrayed never happened in any hotel, in Asia or otherwise. Shelley Berman wrote ‘Room Service’ as a piece of fictional humour. Shelley Berman has kindly allowed this extract to appear on this site, and this permission is gratefully acknowledged.
As well as being one of the best loved and funniest comedians and writers of his generation, Shelly Berman is also a lecturer at the University of Southern California. More information at: Shelley Berman.
The Room Service fictional exchange is a wonderful and amusing example of how and why the effective understanding relies not only on language and communication, but also on the abilities of the communicators to interpret meaning.
excerpt from “A Hotel is a Funny Place …”
Please be advised that the material herein is a chapter from Shelley Berman’s copyrighted book.
Reading hints: You are on the phone. The other party is also in the hotel.
Morny, rune sore-bees.
Oh sorry, I thought I dialed room service.
Rye. Rune sore-bees. Morny. Jewish to odor sunteen?
Yes, order something. This is room thirteen-on-five. I want…
Okay, torino-fie. Yes plea?
I’d like some bacon and eggs.
Ow July then?
What?
Aches.
Ow July then? Pry, boy, pooch…?
Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry. Scrambled, please.
Ow July thee baycome? Crease?
Crisp will be fine.
Okay. An Santos?
What?
Santos. July Santos?
Uh…I don’t know…I don’t think so.
No? Judo one toes?
Look. I really feel bad about this, but I just don’t know what judo-one-toes means. I’m sorry…
Toes! Toes! Why Jew Don Juan toes? Ow bow eenlish mopping we bother?
English muffin! I’ve got it! You were saying toast! Fine. An English muffin will be fine. We bother? No. Just put the bother on the side.
Wad?
I’m sorry. I meant butter. Butter on the side.
Copy?
I feel terrible about this but… Copy.
Copy, tea, mill…
Coffee!! Yes, coffee please. And that’s all.
One Minnie. Ass rune torino-fie, strangle-aches, crease baycome, tossy eenlish mopping we bother honey sigh, and copy. Rye?
Whatever you say. Okay.
Tenjewberrymud.
You’re welcome.

Next time someone sends you the email you can inform them: the above dialogue never actually took place in any hotel anywhere in the world. The Room Service dialogue is an intentionally composed humorous fiction and is entirely the creation of Shelley Berman, written as a chapter in his book, A Hotel Is A Funny Place, publishers Price/Sloan/Stern. Copyright 1972 and 1985. Any claim to the contrary is utterly baseless and erroneous.
Room Service is © Shelley Berman. Used with Permission with grateful thanks to Shelley Berman. Not to be sold or published.
the six phases of a project
Enthusiasm
Disillusionment
Panic
Search for the guilty
Punishment of the innocent
Praise and honours for the non-participants
the MSWindows car and the power of PR
You may have seen this before as it’s been widely circulated over the internet. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a great example of the risks of arrogant PR, and then in response, fantastic PR that’s utterly in tune with the mood of the moment. Despite all this though, a supremely powerful supplier can, while they remain supremely powerful, re-write the rules of customer service.
At a computer expo (COMDEX) around 1997/98, Bill Gates of Microsoft was reported to have compared the computer and automotive industries, saying that “If General Motors had kept up with technology like the computer industry does, we would all be driving around in twenty-five dollar cars that go 1,000 miles to the gallon.”
In response to this alleged outburst, GM are supposed to have issued a press release along the following lines, stating:
If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics –
For no reason at all your car would crash twice a day, and you would have not a single clue as to the cause.
Every time they re-painted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.
Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, re-start and drive on.
Occasionally, executing a manoeuvre such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to re-start, in which case you would have to re-install the engine.
Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought ‘Car95’ or ‘CarNT’, but then you’d have to buy more seats.
(Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but it would only run on five percent of the roads. The Macintosh car owners would have to buy expensive GM upgrades for their cars which would make them run much slower.)
The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a ‘general car default’ warning light.
The car’s new seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.
The airbag system would say ‘Are you sure?’ before activating.
Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
GM would require all car buyers to additionally purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (which would be a GM subsidiary) even though the customer neither needed nor wanted them. Attempting to do without these extras would immediately cause the car’s performance to diminish by fifty percent or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation under the anti-trust laws by the Justice Department.
Every time GM introduced a new model, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as in the previous car.
And you’d need to press the ‘Start’ button to shut off the engine.
the balloon story
A man in a hot air balloon is lost. He sees a man on the ground and reduces height to speak to him.
“Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?”
“You’re in a hot air balloon hovering thirty feet above this field,” comes the reply.
“You must work in Information Technology,” says the balloonist.
“I do,” says the man, “How did you know?”
“Well,” says the balloonist, “Everything you told me is technically correct, but it’s no use to anyone.”
“You must be in business,” says the man.
“I am,” says the balloonist, “How did you know?”
“Well,” says the man, “You don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”
monkey story on company policy
Start with a cage containing five monkeys.
Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it.
Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.
As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water.
After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water.
Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, turn off the cold water.
Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.
The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs.
To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.
After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one.
The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked.
The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Again, replace a third original monkey with a new one.
The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well.
Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys that have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.
Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.
Why not?
Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been around here.
And that’s how company policy begins …
ten ways to murder creativity
Always pretend to know more than everybody around you.
Get employees to fill in time sheets.
Run daily checks on progress of everyone’s work.
Ensure that highly qualified people do mundane work for long periods.
Put barriers up between departments.
Don’t speak personally to employees, except when announcing increased targets, shortened deadlines and tightened cost restraints.
Ask for a 200-page document to justify every new idea.
Call lots of meetings.
Place the biggest emphasis on the budget.
Buy lots of computers.
the story of the scorpion and the frog
Once upon a time a scorpion wanted to cross a brook. On the bank he saw a frog and asked if the frog would give him a ride to the other side.
“Oh no,” says the frog, “If I carry you on my back you will sting me.”
“But why would I sting you when we would both surely perish,” replied the scorpion.
The frog eventually conceded that the scorpion had a point, and agreed to the request.
Half way across, the scorpion stang the frog, and they both began to drown.
“But why did you break your word and sting me, knowing it would be certain death for us both?” cried the frog.
“Because it is in my nature.” said the scorpion.
the rocks in bucket time management story
Use this time management story to show how planning is the key to time management.
Start with a bucket, some big rocks enough to fill it, some small stones, some sand and water.
Put the big rocks in the bucket – is it full?
Put the small stones in around the big rocks – is it full?
Put the sand in and give it a shake – is it full?
Put the water in. Now it’s full.
The point is: unless you put the big rocks in first, you won’t get them in at all.
In other words: Plan time-slots for your big issues before anything else, or the inevitable sand and water issues will fill up your days and you won’t fit the big issues in (a big issue doesn’t necessarily have to be a work task – it could be your child’s sports-day, or a holiday).
rocks in the bucket story – alternative funny version
A lecturer at a university is giving a pre-exam lecture on time management. On his desk is a bag of sand, a bag of pebbles, some big rocks and bucket. He asks for a volunteer to put all three grades of stone into the bucket, and a keen student duly steps up to carry out the task, starting with the sand, then the pebbles, then the rocks, which do not all fit in the bucket.
“The is an analogy of poor time management,” trills the lecturer, “If you’d have put the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand, all three would have fit. This is much like time management, in that by completing your biggest tasks first, you leave room to complete your medium tasks, then your smaller ones. By completing your smallest tasks first you spend so much time on them you leave yourself unable to complete either medium of large tasks satisfactorily. Let me show you..”
And the lecturer re-fills the bucket, big rocks first, then pebbles, then sand, shaking the bucket between each so that everything fits.
“But Sir,” says one student, slouched at the back of the theatre “you’ve forgotten one thing..”
At which the student approaches the bucket, produces a can of lager, opens it and pours into the bucket. “No matter how busy you are,” quips the student with a smile, “there’s always time for a quick beer.” (Ack Simon Dedman)
murphy’s plough positive thinking story
Use this story to illustrate the risks of failing to use positive thinking.
McGinty, a farmer, needed to plough his field before the dry spell set in, but his own plough had broken.
“I know, I’ll ask my neighbour, farmer Murphy, to borrow his plough. He’s a good man; I’m sure he’ll have done his ploughing by now and he’ll be glad to lend me his machine.”
So McGinty began to walk the three or four fields to Murphy’s farm.
After a field of walking, McGinty says to himself, “I hope that Murphy has finished all his own ploughing or he’ll not be able to lend me his machine…”
Then after a few more minutes of worrying and walking, McGinty says to himself, “And what if Murphy’s plough is old and on it’s last legs – he’ll never be wanting to lend it to me will he?..”
And after another field, McGinty says, “Murphy was never a very helpful fellow, I reckon maybe he won’t be too keen to lend me his plough even if it’s in perfect working order and he’s finished all his own ploughing weeks ago….”
As McGinty arrives at Murphy’s farm, McGinty is thinking, “That old Murphy can be a mean old fellow. I reckon even if he’s got all his ploughing done, and his own machine is sitting there doing nothing, he’ll not lend it to me just so watch me go to ruin…”
McGinty walks up Murphy’s front path, knocks on the door, and Murphy answers.
“Well good morning Mr McGinty, what can I do for you?” says Murphy.
And McGinty says, with eyes bulging, “You can take your bloody plough, and you can stick it up your bloody arse!”

Send your favourite.

Other than the items for which specific copyright is shown (which must not be reproduced in any form), the use this material is free provided copyright (Alan Chapman 1995-2006) is acknowledged and reference or link is made to the http://www.businessballs.com website. This material may not be sold, or published in any form. Disclaimer: Reliance on information, material, advice, or other linked or recommended resources, received from Alan Chapman, shall be at your sole risk, and Alan Chapman assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this website are encouraged to confirm information received with other sources, and to seek local qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organisational liabilities. Managing people and relationships are sensitive activities; the free material and advice available via this website do not provide all necessary safeguards and checks. Please retain this notice on all copies.
© alan chapman 1995-2006 and other shown for certain items.
“);}//–>

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: