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This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Many of us remember our school experience of the writer with some anguish, learning extracts by rote and struggling with the often unintelligible prose.

Now looking back, the complex plots of Shakespeare’s four-hundred-year-old plays are often underlined by the same challenges with which we contend in business today. In addition, some of the hundreds of words and phrases that Shakespeare introduced are in everyday use in the corporate lexicon like compromise, marketable, to negotiate, expedience and “to champion”.

So why not take a trip down memory lane to the classroom and resurrect some centuries old quotes as reminders of good business practice for you and your teams.

1. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” (Hamlet) All of us, I am sure, have suffered from meeting fatigue, enduring meetings about meetings. Having worked in a number of different corporate environments myself, the best organisation at living this particular Shakespearean motto was Ryanair. Any team gathering at Ryanair was an effective exchange of information and output focussed – and short! When team members spend any time in a group the required result of that session should be clearly understood and delivered. Enough said.

2. “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.” (Romeo and Juliet)
A fast pace is a feature and often a necessity of our business world. I work with many technology-driven clients where the ability to be nimble is of particular importance. The most successful of these organisations however set themselves up to be able to move quickly to adapt to customer or market requirements in an environment that allows them to succeed at speed.

3. “It is not in the Stars to hold our Destiny but in ourselves” (Julius Caesar). At Accreate’s Change & Transformation Management Evening, Donal Garvey, Programme Manager for New Markets at Primark spoke about his CEO’s reference to the organisation facing an inner challenge posed by its own success. Similarly, in my time at Ryanair, Michael O’Leary often referenced our greatest threat to ongoing success as being complacent and taking the eye away from the focus of the business. In other words, our destiny was our own for the making and any limitations to success were within our gift. This articulation of what could be described as a “challenge” is actually highly empowering and both Ryanair and Primark’s stellar successes are testament to the effectiveness of living this belief in the organisational culture.

Articles by Caroline Baldwin