The price of a new shop

    Colin Beaven vor britischer Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Even a good manager can learn to be a better manager, so there’s always a role for management training. There are short courses you can do, or qualifications you can get, like the diploma in management studies. After a few years, you can even do an MBA.
    That’s a very high level, of course. With the letters MBA after your name, you can manage basically anything; in fact, “manage basically anything” is probably what MBA stands for. What comes next, though? If you’re a manager, you can’t just stagnate. You always have to try to become better. So once you’ve read all the usual management books, it’s time to read Winnie-the-Pooh.
    Yes, it’s a children’s classic, but the beginning is a brilliant summary of everyday working life. A reminder of the story: Winnie-the-Pooh (a teddy bear) is brought downstairs by Christopher Robin (the little boy to whom he belongs). Christopher Robin always drags his bear behind him, so Pooh bangs his head on every step. It’s clearly rather painful — time to quote A. A. Milne directly:
    “Sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.”
    This also describes one’s daily experience in the workplace, and it clearly inspired the concept of Total Quality Management. It’s only a short step from wanting to stop banging your head on the stairs to the introduction of quality circles — moments in a Japanese-style working week when workers meet to discuss ways of doing their jobs better.
    Many of Pooh’s discussions with friends like Eeyore, Owl and Piglet are good examples of the kind of problem-solving that an efficient organization needs.
    This is not the only way that Winnie-the-Pooh has influenced the world of work. He inspired a generation of spin doctors — people who work in public relations and who are paid to make you think that things aren’t as bad as they seem.
    When Pooh, our management guru, visits his friend Eeyore on his birthday, he takes a pot of honey as a present. But since Pooh eats the honey on the way, he arrives carrying an empty pot. What does he say? “I’ve brought you a little present... It’s a Useful Pot... It’s for putting things in.” He’s not wrong either. It really is a useful pot. Eeyore uses it to keep his other presents in, such as a balloon that Piglet brought, but which burst when Piglet fell over.
    Eeyore is certainly pleased, and Pooh does well to rescue the situation. But it’s an unconventional birthday party by modern standards. Today, people usually expect a bit more. They often put “PBAB” on a party invitation. It means “please bring a bottle”, and it certainly doesn’t mean you should bring an empty one.
    In the light of the story about Eeyore’s party, it might be better to write something on the invitation that makes this nice and clear. “MBA”, for example: “must bring alcohol”.
    There we are: a bit of Total Quality Management. Who said it’s a thing of the past?

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