Posts Tagged beach ball theory



Sailing around the world is difficult and filled with a constant stream of new challenges and problems. While visiting many ports at crossroads around the world, I was surprised how many skippers were unwilling to ask for advice. I don’t know if it was their ego or not wanting to appear dumb or they just assumed they had all the answers that prevented them from expanding their knowledge base by asking for advice and directions.  Sadly, I’ve witnessed many avoidable problems and near disasters that could have been avoided if the skipper  asked, listened and used the information.

The same problem exists in the business world and life at large. There is so much information, points of view and experience available but yet untapped. Like the skippers described above leaders of all kinds go it alone. Think of the knowledge pool among employees alone.  The common complaint, however, is that the boss won’t listen.  Suppliers and potential suppliers are a great source  of knowledge.  Finally there are those who are  experienced and successful at what you are trying to do.  I can only conclude that weak leaders are worried about loss of control and/or looking dumb.

The colors of the beach ball represents full knowledge. Picture the ball as so big, that standing beside it  you can only see one of the colors and that to best solve your problem or seize the best opportunity,  you need to know all of the colors which represents full knowledge. Picture the ball, surrounded by the assortment of people with whom you are associated. If you ask and listen you will arrive at all the colors or  full knowledge. You have not given up control or looked dumb (to the contrary, most will be wowed by the fact you asked AND listened).  Now you are prepared to make a well informed maybe even, brilliant decision!  Leadership is the wisdom to acquire full knowledge and then make the best decision.


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Theories & Philosophies – A Lifetime Legacy



My life has taken me from church pulpit to sailboat cockpit. I delivered my first sermon to an audience of 500 before I was old enough to drive. I learned to read the New Testament  in the original Koine Greek language and spent the summer between my sophomore and junior college years as minister of a church while the full time minister was on sabbatical. My sailing experience has taken me to many continents and exotic destinations, including, ports of call in the Mediterranean, Athens, Istanbul, Galapagos Islands and Alaska. I have sailed the equivalence of six times around the world including crossing the Atlantic and transiting the Panama Canal both three times. Pulpit to cockpit are the book ends to my business career at Boise Cascade and the founding of T.G.I. Friday’s Inc.

While I no longer practice a religion my early exposure has had a profound influence on my life. Certainly my values and my penchant to apply those values to business. The teaching method of metaphors and analogies obviously comes from this background. I became legendary both at Boise Cascade and Friday’s for my theories and philosophies and the metaphors I used to teach them. The ‘beach ball’, ‘steel pole’, ‘three styles of management’, ‘magic moment’, and many more were created during my decade long career at Boise Cascade. I continued to develop my repertoire and adapt it at Friday’s and while writing the book but they all owe their origins to my roots and now the added dimension of the lessons learned at sea.

It is flattering to see so many of these theories in common use on the internet. There are cartoon versions, flash card versions, one lady has a complete blog on the ‘beach ball theory’ and a hospitality consultant uses the ‘success syndrome’ and ‘four walls’ theories to start his web page. My attorney told me an arbitration class he took used the ‘beach ball theory’ to illustrate several approaches to arbitration. It is not surprising when you think about the wide dispersal of these theories through the managers we trained for the industry. We used to laugh when we saw the training manuals of other restaurant companies with our name just barely whited out.

We supplied the industry with more than just these training theories. Boise Cascade was on the cutting edge of the computing age. Wow! We had one of the first IBM 360’s. As part of the executive team I was sent to  IBM’s school in Poughkeepsie, New York. The basic message taught was, “LEAVE THE NERDS ALONE!”. Operationally, however, we did effectively use this new tool to develop  controls for all aspects of our business. I converted manufacturing controls to the controls for the  restaurant industry and many of these concepts, forms and controls are still in use today. It is amazing the impact we had.  The tools for free pouring bar operations are still on sale.  The diary we kept of daily  store operations, called ‘The Red Book’ must have inspired a product you can buy on Amazon, which looks exactly like what we used is called the ‘FRIDAY MEMORANDUM BOOK’. These are just the tip of the iceberg but the proudest legacy are the ‘Alumni’ that still use and cherish the values they learned from their Friday’s experience; they ‘Bleed Red & White!’




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