My friend changed my life – with shoelaces!

If you ever wear shoes with laces then I’m guessing that, like me, you learned how to tie them at a very young age.  I certainly remember putting one foot on the bottom stair and practising as Mum showed me what to do (cross them over and under, then form a loop etc!).


So, like most of us, I’ve tied them the same way ever since, without even thinking about it.  From time to time I notice that my laces have come undone – annoying when that happens isn’t it – usually when I’m in a hurry or it’s raining.  So what do I do?  Well I tie them again, just the same way that I did before.  (Some laces are particularly slippery I find, and come undone more often, and especially at the wrong time).

Then one day my friend Andre remarked in passing that it’s interesting how much difference it makes whether we tie our laces properly (like a reef knot) or poorly (like a granny knot – sorry granny).  So a properly tied lace (right over left, left over right, just as in a reef knot) stays tied securely for much longer.  (Goodness knows why an architect was thinking about shoelaces, but that’s Andre!)  I checked my own ‘shoelace-tying technique’ and you can guess what I found!

Huh?  As a sailor I know about knots.  I can tie a reef knot in a storm on a dark night with my eyes closed (often the best way to be on a dark and stormy night at sea anyway) and still be certain that I’ve done it right.  So how can it possibly be that I’ve spent my whole life since I was three tying my laces the ‘wrong way’?

All of that got me thinking; it’s just a habit, right?  I’ve just ‘always done it that way’.  So I started wondering how many businesses locally, or in the UK, or in the world, have habits, things they’ve ‘always done that way’ where really, with a bit of digging, we can find a better way.  A faster, cheaper, more efficient and more profitable way – with less cash tied up. Most of us I guess, obviously including me!

So, if you run a business locally and feel you’d like a little help with the shoelaces, please give me a call on 01672 512001.  We’ll talk about your shoelaces over a coffee.  I can’t help all the world’s businesses but – if you’re local, I can help you.

By the way, in case you’re wondering – yes I have succeeded in relearning how to tie my shoelaces!  It takes a while, and consistent repetition, but after a few weeks I rarely have to think about it.

About Nigel Scott


Are the values in your business crystal clear – and does it matter?

When businesses are formed, they immediately begin to reflect the values of the owner or leader.  We recruit people who seem to fit with us, we attract customers who like our values, and the business grows.  Usually these ‘values’ are not explicit or written down, but in a small team everyone pretty much knows what the boss wants and how they want things done.

As businesses grow, things begin to change.  Leaders of growing businesses have less time to spend with each member of a growing team.  Leaders are busy, need to recruit new people, work with new customers, and the values gradually become a bit less clear.  Not in the head of the leader of course, but everywhere else.

Why does this happen?  Well, it’s about relationships; in a business of 4 people, everyone knows everyone else and there are only 6 one-to-one relationships within the team.  It’s easy to be aware of what’s going on in each of these and the leader is personally involved in half of them, and just one step away from the others.

By contrast when a business has 100 people, each knowing everyone else, there are 4950 one-to-one relationships going on – and the leader is involved in just 99.  So that’s just 2% of the working relationships that involve the leader.


So, what values will people bring to work?  We’ll bring our own of course, which may or may not be a good fit with those of the business.  Hence the need to be clear and explicit about the values of the business.  They become the heartbeat of the team, a reference point for every decision, and a wonderful tool for providing feedback to people (‘I saw what you did there; spot on, and a great example of our Values around service – thanks’.)

So somewhere on your growth path you will find it really helpful to think through your business values.  Engage your team in the discussion, get their views as well (they’ll probably have a different perspective to yours, which is really helpful) and as a leader get personally involved.

Used effectively, your business values will be a powerful tool for recruitment, giving feedback and managing performance, and for guiding every decision that you and your team make.

If you’d like to talk about getting this working better for you please give me a call on 01672 512001

About Nigel Scott