If animals were types of communication, the gazelle might be the tweet, an SMS a sweet little humming bird, an HMRC letter a rhinoceros (thick skinned and charges a lot) and a posted paper letter the most ancient dinosaur anybody can think of. Faxes might be dodos and so on.
The cockroach of modern communication is the sticky note (with whichever brand name you attribute to it). They are always grubby and dog-eared. Pick one up in a typical business and you are likely to see a scrawled phrase to stir anxiety: “Biggest customer optimum buy day tomorrow” or something like it.
It’s like having one on your car dashboard “Stop: middle peddle”. Or one precariously dangling from the toilet cistern: “Wash hands”. These things conflict with great quality methodologies like 5S — see here. It’s the job of a good manager to stomp them out wherever they are. Or use a flame thrower, of course.
My colleagues obviously agree with me. It’s my Fireco birthday today — one whole year which for me has been an absolute privilege. To celebrate, they emptied as many notes as they could find and stuck them on my car windows. Nice to have them out of the office!
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Don’t get me wrong, they can be useful. There are those workshops where people slap them around on walls with words like ‘OPTIMISM’ and ‘EMPOWERMENT’ scrawled on them. I am sure that can help but it’s a bit earnest for my taste. I prefer quiet reflection.
Notices are one of those things that give me nervous twitches. If you want a clue about what an organisation is like, read its notices. A notice is so often a sign of a glitch in the works. For the sake of my sanity, I have named these glitches cucumbers.
I used to be quite calm about door wedges before I worked at Fireco. Even on fire doors. In hotels, universities, factories – in any place you can think of, the door wedge rules. It’s cheap, it’s effective and it’s lethal.