Is there a Bear in Your Boardroom?

In the House of Commons, following Prime Minister Theresa May’s most detailed speech to date on her government’s Brexit strategy, Conservative MP Nicholas Soames (despite being a strong Remain supporter) says it is time to accept the verdict of the referendum and “get on with it”.

He quotes his grandfather Winston Churchill:

If there is a bear in your bedroom it is not a matter for speculation.”

bearThe simple wisdom of this statement – as well as the refreshing humour – resonates through time.

If you have a bear (an unwanted, unwelcome, and potentially dangerous intruder, or issue) in your bedroom (or boardroom), sometimes it just takes an outside observer to say “I see you have a bear in there. What are you going to do about it?”

From that moment on, the conversation moves from denying reality (“There can’t be a bear in here!”) or useless railing (“The bear will kill me! I can’t move or it will hurt me!”) to practical planning:

  • What’s the best outcome?
  • Should I try and get rid of the bear?
  • Can I make friends with the bear?
  • Can we work together?
  • Is there an opportunity to learn new skills (bear communication, bear negotiating) or gain new perspectives?

In my work with organisations and destinations, the person that comes into your bedroom/boardroom and says “There’s a bear in here. What next?”, is me.

What happens next is a factor of the potential in the organisation:

  • The potential in the people – to contribute more, and grow more
  • The potential in the brand – to embrace new opportunities, and create new markets
  • The potential in the customers, to become more loyal, to spend more, to share their POSITIVE experiences

Of course, many organisations choose to ignore the bear (or bears), and just keep going – afraid of what would happen if they confronted the bear head on. In my experience, not only does that strategy merely allow the bear (and the fear of the bear) to grow stronger, it also deprives the organisation of the potential opportunity to embrace the bear, and to grow and be more effective.

So, if you think there may be a bear in your bedroom (or boardroom) – you know who to call.


Stephen Spencer is a keynote speaker, business coach and consultant, helping organisations create better Customer Experiences to unlock team and profit potential. He has over 25 years’ experience as a leader, trainer and experience developer with some of the UK’s most prestigious Retail, Tourism and Hospitality brands. Sign up for Stephen’s POSITIVE Customer Experience newsletter here.

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