Imagine this: You are walking down a sunny London street one day, minding your own business, and a barrel of flour falls from above and cracks you on the head. You wake up resembling the Pillsbury Dough-Boy with a concussion. What can you do about it? Until 1863, nothing if you could not demonstrate who dropped the barrel.
The above experience happened to a Mr. Byrne. The court said he had no case against one Mr. Boadle, who it seemed allowed a barrel to fall from the second story of his store (but nobody admitted to it).
Following tradition, the British Court said Mr. Byrne had no case because he could not prove the barrel fell from the Mr. Boadle’s building.
This had been the rule for centuries. Mr. Byrne, however, had the good sense to appeal. After all, this couldn’t be justice. The British Court of Exchequer (similar to our Appeals Court) agreed and cited, for the first time, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur: The thing speaks for itself.
Barrels of flour do not just fall from the sky like snowflakes. Somebody goofed. What the court was saying: We can assume the most logical cause even if there is not absolute proof. Accidents happen. Mistakes happen. Some things are so obvious that we don’t have to think about it…the thing speaks for itself. So, how might this doctrine apply to career development.
Management and marketing are sciences, both of which can get complex. There are a lot of moving parts. Yet, there are a lot of simple things we can do too. Here are just a few:
- Absenteeism – How are people going to advance in their careers when they are not at work?
- Punctuality – Will someone gain the trust of leaders if they are often late?
- Focus – Does checking Facebook while on-the-clock seem like a smart career move?
- Customer Service – Do we really need marketing research to tell us happy customers are more likely to return?
- Respect – Isn’t it obvious that the way to gain respect from others is to give respect to others?
Remember, res ipsa loquitur….the thing speaks for itself. Let the things you do speak on your behalf. When we are present, focused, respectful and customer-oriented…business really does get easier.
- Byrne v Boadle (2 Hurl. & Colt. 722, 159 Eng. Rep. 299, 1863).
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