Business Lessons from Jack and Jill

Posted on 9th Feb 2015

What can we learn from the exploits of Jack and Jill? Well, first of all it's good that they were obviously keen to display collaboration and teamwork in undertaking the task of fetching the pail of water together. However, the exercise did not go well and we need to understand whether that's down to human error or whether the actual process was flawed.

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch the pail of water. Why was the water source at the top of a hill that was clearly a health and safety risk? Was this a regular activity and was it sanctioned by the company, or did Jack and Jill decide to use this water source off their own back? Had there been a risk assessment of the hill? Had alternative water sources been investigated? We need to look at such issues as whether Jack and Jill were being adequately supervised and what sort of training had been given.

That they went together could indicate that the task required two operatives or it could be that one was acting as a spotter for the other. With some activities which carry an implicit danger it's important to ensure that anyone taking part is covered by someone else. In this case it seems that there may have been either a lack of training or general incompetence because Jack fell down, sustaining a serious head injury, and instead of taking charge of the situation Jill 'came tumbling after'. Was Jill the best person for the job? It seems not.

Storytelling is a powerful training tool that can also be used as an icebreaker. Take a well known story and rewrite it in business language. If you can have a bit of fun at the expense of management speak it acts as a red flag against it, without pointing fingers at anyone who is prone to the practice. Clearer language means clearer results. Regardless of your objective, as a short half hour exercise, storytelling is creative, fun and a great icebreaker.

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