Problem Solving - Think Cleopatras Ass

Picture the scene. Anthony pops down to the guardhouse, partly because he wants a break with the lads, but also because he has a problem. Cleopatra says she wants to bathe in ass's milk. So Anthony tells the guys in the guardhouse, that he needs some help. "The wife wants to bathe in ass's milk now." He says.

Gerald, the Head Guard, says, "She wants to what?" "Bathe in ass's milk", says Anthony, "You know what these women are like - she's read it on some tablets of stone somewhere - it's supposed to be good for her complexion".

"So how are you going to sort that out then," says Gerald, "Are you going to get someone to pour it over her or something?" Anthony thinks about it and says, "No, that won't do, she wants to soak in it. She needs a 'bath'."

"What's a 'bath' then..", says the Gerald. "It's a big thing you get into that's full of the ass's milk - and then you lie down in it," says Anthony.

"What do you want to do that for then..?" asks one of the new guards, a young lad really.

"So you can get clean all over and relax in it - let the ass's milk do it's job." Says Anthony, trying to sound as if it makes sense. "Oh, right then.." Says the Head Guard.

"Nah, I don't know where you'll get one of them."

Anthony goes on his way, this time stopping at the stonemason's yard, thinking all of a sudden, those big stones we shape, all we need to do is to hollow on out and that will do.

So he starts a conversation with the Head Stonemason, Steve. "Can you do me a 'bath'", he says. "What's one of them, then?", the rather busy stonemason says. "It's a big thing you get into and lie in, full of hot liquid. It's relaxing." Anthony says, sounding less and less convincing each time. "You can do it, with this stuff you're cutting up each day, it'll be a breeze". "Nah, mate," says Steve, "This stuff is sandstone, it won't hold the liquid".

Disappointed, but losing a bit of interest, Anthony moves along in his quest.

But it starts the stonemason thinking - he has a bit of spare granite out the back of the shed, so over the next few days, he does a bit if chiselling and sees what he can do.

A week the following Friday, he gives old Anthony a shout and shows him his work. "Brilliant", says Anthony - let's get it installed, she'll be having her nails done all afternoon. "Let's get those asses milked too", he shouts to his PA.

Later that afternoon, Cleopatra has a big surprise and excitedly clambers into the new granite bath, filled with warm asses milk and she is in seventh heaven.

Bet you're wondering what the moral of the story is eh?

Well, in our everyday job, we are faced with dozens of little challenges. New problems to puzzle out. And they cause us irritation and frustration. Yet, like the stone mason, Steve, we have people around us who, left to their own devices and interested enough in the challenge, will sort things out - in their own way and in their own time.

It's as true today as it was when Anthony and Cleopatra were around.

There is a postscript to this. Two days later the stonemason is called up to the new 'bath' room. Cleopatra was pleased to see him and thanked him for his excellent work but asked, discreetly, if he could bring his polishing stone up with him later.

"The bath is great, but I have a little problem. There's something right in the bottom corner that is a little rough - in fact, she said, it's a bit of a pain in the ass."

Knowingly, the stonemason left the bathroom for his tools. "I know, I know" he said, "We get them all the time." And he smiled a little smile as he prepared to meet a challenge of a more delicate nature.

Copyright 2005 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, http://www.coaching-busine sses-to-success.com. (Note to editors. Feel free to use this article, wherever you think it might be of value - it would be good if you could include a live link)

...helping you, to help your people, to help your business grow...

5 Management Decision Making Lessons from a Long Shot. A Heartening Belmont Victory

Like many, I watched the 134th Belmont Stakes hoping to see the first Triple Crown... Read More

Spinning Gold from Straw: Low-Cost Employee Retention and Motivation Tools in a Changing Economy

New York, NY, February 25, 2005 ? Employee retention and motivation?why should employers care? A... Read More

Coaching Can Get The Boss In Shape

Who tells the boss that they can improve their management or leadership? How do they... Read More

Executives and Emotional Self Awareness

A major problem impairing an executive's performance is his Emotional Blind Spots. Emotions, whether we... Read More

Top Ten Things About Creating a Business Vision

To visualise where you are going, is deeper and more sensory than anything you have... Read More

Basic Management Skills

Recent studies have shown that industrial supervisors are working at less than 60 % of... Read More

Innovation Management ? Emotion, Habit, and Culture can be Hard to Change!

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

Questions To Ask Employees You Want To Retain

Times of cost cutting and downsizing has dramatically impacted the way employees look at their... Read More

Creativity and Innovation - Large Firms Versus Small Firms

There is a pervasive assumption that small firms are more creative and innovative than larger... Read More

Effective Email Communication

Email, when used properly, can generate additional direct sales and leads; can be used as... Read More

Turbo Charge Your Career With The Most Powerful Leadership Tool Of All: The Leadership Talk: Part 2

In Part One, I described the Leadership Talk and how it is a much more... Read More

How Can A Communications Audit Help You?

Organizations communicate in two directions: internally to staff and externally to clients, customers, shareholders, stakeholders,... Read More

Keep The Faith - Transform The Fear

FEAR! To what extent does fear rule your life? How is fear controlling or motivating... Read More

Stopping The Brain Drain: How To Capture Key Business Knowledge Before It Walks Out The Door

The verdict is in: More and more baby boomers will be leaving the workplace sooner,... Read More

Gossip And Rumors And Hearsay, Oh Why?

In the Wizard of Oz, it was "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" Many... Read More

So, You Want to be in Management? Five Essential Factors that Will Determine Your Chances

The following information is based upon over 500 interviews with senior executives with whom I... Read More

Keeping Team Meetings Vibrant

Meetings can be the life-blood of an organisation or the death.It all depends how you... Read More

Crisis Management Tips

The term crisis management has different connotations. In this article, I will try to provide... Read More

Rules for Running a Meeting

As an experienced manager, I can announce without a doubt that the primary reason for... Read More

Transparency: A Key To Your Effectiveness

Last month I talked about the Skilled Facilitator principle of being curious. This month I... Read More

Four Employee Behaviors That Can Kill Your Business

I found it important to clarify for employees what "deal-breaker" behavior was at my company.... Read More

Knowledge Management - Leadership Behaviours Which Encourage Knowledge-Sharing

The concept of knowledge management or knowledge sharing makes intellectual sense to the leadership teams... Read More

Problem Solving the Problem Solving Meeting

We go to meetings to share information, to report on project status, to make decisions,... Read More

The Top Three Problems IT Managers Face and How to Overcome Them

Todays business environment has changed drastically from just a few years back. Rather than working... Read More

Innovation Management ? some ideas are better than others

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

How to Coach Your Employees - 5 Simple Steps Anyone Can Do!

Want to get more from your people, but you don't know how? Are you up... Read More

Human Resource Communication Pays Off

Human Resource Communications and Corporate Communications ? are they one in the same? Both plan... Read More

Creating A Vision ? Bringing Your Dreams Into Reality

Do you have some goals you want to achieve or dreams you want to fulfill?... Read More

Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: Employee Ideas Achieve Work Life Balance

This article relates to the Work/Life Balance competency, which investigates how your staff feels with... Read More

10 Ways To Work Through A Business Slowdown

In running any kind of business, it's inevitable that sometimes business will slow down. This... Read More

Great Hires: Avoid Costly Mistakes

Picking people for a job is like going to the store to buy... Read More

Importance of Just-In-Time Inventory System

In today's competitive world shorter product life cycles, customers rapid demands and quickly changing business... Read More

Organisation Tips For The Mobile Executive

Despite the fact that everyone sighs "How glamorous!", the life of the business traveller can... Read More

Five Steps to Successful Business Succession

The great majority of family businesses in North America are still owned and operated by... Read More

Creativity and Innovation Management ? Personality Testing

Whilst tests measuring the creative or innovative personality exist, there are a number of inherent... Read More

How to Say No

Rejection hurts. No one likes to give it or to receive it. We all wish... Read More

The Leaders Fallacy May Be Howard Deans Undoing

Howard Dean's tenure as chairman of the Democratic National Committee will be fleeting unless he... Read More

The Top 10 Requirements for Your Business to Become and Remain Profitable

We live in a relentlessly competitive world. The daily pressure to work "better, cheaper and... Read More

Whatever it Takes!

I have a sign on my office door. It pretty much summarizes my philosophy of... Read More

Better Manager Skills - How to Learn

When you first take over a department, expectations are usually high but operations are sometimes... Read More

Credibility - A Golden Key to Becoming More Influential

You have been named a new leader in your organization, or you are a long... Read More

The High, High Price of Distrust

A paper manufacturer with over 300 employees once announced that it was planning to move... Read More

Why and How to Work with a Consultant

A good consultant provides specialist abilities and experience, innovative ideas, second opinions (reality checks), unbiased... Read More

Take This Into Consideration Before You Write Your Mission Statement

What principles should a company keep in mind when developing a mission statement? Appropriate criteria... Read More

Better Management Performance - The Easy 3-Step Way

Managers make three mistakes when they try to run businesses. They do too much, they... Read More

Looking through the Glass Ceiling - Women in Management

Women have made tremendous contributions to society at every level; consider Joan of Arc, Golda... Read More

Stomp Out Leeches In Your Company

Recently, I felt appalled to see a political candidate running on the motto of "Demand... Read More

Innovation Management ? Eliciting Dominant Ideas

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

No Time to Focus on the Big Picture? Try Focus Management

E-mail, voicemail, "got a minute?" interruptions, multiple projects and competing priorities. Whether it... Read More

Middle-Aged Managers, the Forgotten Digital Divide

The digital divide is defined by the role computers play within widening social gaps in... Read More