Articulating the bleedin’ obvious

Police officers across the UK have been sent an internal missive designed to support their general well being, according to an article in the Sunday Telegraph.  It includes suggestions which as a bystander it is easy to find ridiculous.  They include such gems as (and I am paraphrasing here) :

“Don’t drink too much in the evening in case you have to get up in the night to relieve yourself:  a good night’s sleep makes you feel so much better in the morning.”

  • “Make yourself a healthy sandwich before you go to bed ready for the morning, but don’t forget to put it in the fridge.”

                                                            “Reducing your alcohol intake is a good idea.”

They must (surely) have thought long and hard before spending good money on putting this document together, and been aware that they were telling people what they already knew.  However, rather than sneer at the initiative (very tempting), maybe it’s worth asking what the value is of reminding people of the basics.

I’ve been thinking about how often I do this in the training room, and the answer is A LOT!  If I think of the courses I have run this month, all with groups of middle managers (that exhausted and often burnt out group of people who sit in the middle of the sandwich, between the moans and groans of their sharp end staff and the brown stuff which always flows downhill) I have to admit that some of the biggest “kerrching” moments have been when we have talked about what I would consider to be “the basics”.  Believe it or not, these concepts seem to have had most impact:

  • Setting time aside to do some actual planning
  • Planning some quality 1:1 time with their staff
  • Not attending meetings   that don’t have agendas
  • Organising some sort of project kickoff at the start of projects
  • Taking time out to review how they are doing things rather than just beavering  on with the next task.

I could go on, but this gives you a flavour.  How mad does it seem to you that introducing these concepts would be seen as good use of time on a course where average business experience is c 20 years?  It seems remarkable to me.  Not that I mind going there:  if people are energised to put some of these back into their working lives, then everyone around them will benefit, far more than if they introduce Kotter’s 8 step Change Management model or the like (with no disrespect to John Kotter, of course!).

I wonder how well you are doing the basics?  Have they become Unconsciously Competent, so you don’t even know you are doing them, or might they have become Unconsciously Incompetent?  Trouble is you can’t asnwer that question, because the behaviour is probably Unconscious!  Oh well, you’ll just have to hope you are Competent, unless of course you choose to go on a refresher training course (or even more challenging, ask people for some feedback!).

Thanks for reading.  One final “bleedin’ obvious” statement for the day:

If you state your position first in a negotiation, you probably leave money on the table.

Apologies once again to my Subscribers, who last time got 6 or so Blogs for the price of one!  It’s the price you pay when subscribing to someone who sets up his own Blogs and is learning by experience.  I am praying it doesn’t happen this time, and meanwhile am enlisting some professional help!  Thanks for not Unsubscribing.

© Stephane Bonnel –

© vlorzor –

About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at
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2 Responses to Articulating the bleedin’ obvious

  1. Graham Whiting says:

    I have been saying for years that good training is stating the bleeding obvious to people who don’t realise how bleeding obvious it is and getting paid for it.


    • Hi Graham
      Totally agree! You and I make a living out of people not knowing what they don’t know and being so busy they lose sight of the basics. Good thing we are not trying to train them in Rocket Science!


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