The 10/5 story



David Gurteen

First Published



Humour; Measures, Targets and Rewards

This a true personal story that I recently rediscovered. I wrote it down in about 1992 years ago when I was working in the US. Its a good example of just how careful you need to be when trying to manage people too tightly by objectives!

Eric and I were attending a meeting in Palo Alto and spent the night at the local Hyatt Regency. The following morning we had breakfast together. The waitress was friendly - a little too friendly. She seemed to be acting the part but nevertheless we laughed and joked with her. On her pinafore she wore a badge on which was imprinted 5/10. We remarked on it and jokingly asked if it meant the 10th of May or the 5th of October. Any of you familiar with the difference between the American and British way of representing dates will understand. In America dates are expressed month/date in the U.K. date/month. Anyway she told us what it really meant. It was to remind her and other staff that when they passed within ten feet of a guest they should smile and within five feet should greet them with "good morning", "have a nice day" or whatever other greeting was appropriate to the occasion. Well needless to say we had a good laugh about that too. As we left the restaurant a little later - the receptionist at the door turned to us, smiled and said "Have a nice day." Eric looked at her, instantly gauged the distance between us, and replied "We're more than 5 feet away, a smile would have been sufficient!

Video: BLU Lesson 3: How measures distort behaviour by David Gurteen

One of six BLU lessons on 'how measures distort behaviour' by David Gurteen.

In April 2005, BLU, the UK's Business Link University which no longer exists hired Fifty Lessons  to produce a series of video stories for them to which I (David Gurteen) was invited to contribute. This is one of those stories.

Media Information: Image

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
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