The Most Powerful Management Tool in the World (Probably)

If you want your staff to do something, don’t just command them to do it, put in place a structure, something that helps them to do what you want.  Make life easy for them:

  1. If you want short meetings, buy stand up meeting tables
  2. If you want conversation, lay on a great canteen
  3. If you want innovation, give them time to do what they want
  4. If you want equality, have transparent reward structures
  5. If you want everybody at a 9 a.m. meeting, provide bacon sandwiches

On the other hand:

  1. If you want boredom, hit them with powerpoint
  2. If you want inferiority complexes, reserve manager’s parking places
  3. If you want short-term thinking set short-term targets
  4. If you want men only, insist your jobs can only be done full-time
  5. If you want prompt 5 p.m. departures, measure every minute of your employees day

The structures you develop give you the outcomes you ask for.

How are you structured?

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bacon sandwich

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Image by the Killer Biscuit


  1. The bacon butty advice rings particularly true. I don’t think anyone would admit how much of a difference free (unhealthy) food first thing in the morning makes to the mood of a team on a training course (or in a meeting). I think it’s one of the biggest drivers on course satisfaction and has a massively positive effect on anything that follows, just don’t let any veggies feel too left out!

    • James Lawther says:

      Fried egg is the solution, unless of course they are Vegans, in which case I am a little stumped

  2. Great points James. My latest Project (Green Goldfish) touches on each of these aspects:
    – Space Matters. Kitchens (especially big ones) are good for collaboration.
    – Food is Key (You’re not joking about bacon)
    – Flexibility (eliminates presentee-ism)
    – Openness (transparency breeds trust)
    – Empowerment (allow employees the time to innovate)

    • James Lawther says:

      Thanks for your comment Stan.

      I have been busy reading about purple goldfish

      For those not in the know see Stan’s video

    • Hi James,
      Great post. It’s funny how we know about conditioned responses from Pavlov et al but yet seem to strive to forget how this applies to us as humans.


  3. Hello James,

    I love the zen like simplicity-beauty of this post.

    It occurs to me that in this post you are illustrating a rich, contextual, grasp of how human beings function. Put differently, one can never pull apart human behaviour from the context – the context always includes the environment in which human beings are embedded: the water they swim in.

    All the best

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