These iconic figures were the furry dice of their day and they faithfully nodded approval of the world passing by your Hillman Avenger, Ford Cortina or Capri.
Then nodding dogs went out of fashion for a while until, in 1996, a major insurance company started using an animated bulldog to advertise its products on television. The felt-covered mascot nodded and said: “Oh yes” when asked about different types of insurance cover.
Suddenly everyone wanted a plastic replica of Churchill and nodding dogs were back in fashion. The participants on television’s The Apprentice confirmed the toy’s popularity when they had an easy time when given the task of selling them.
But there is one place you don’t want a “nodding dog” – a business meeting.
If you are organising business meetings in Southport, Swansea or Sheffield you’ll know that much can be achieved if everyone turns up with an open mind and ready to get the job done.
Once you have planned the agenda, set a clear purpose for the meeting, communicated the date, time and place etc. you need the participants to work together.
One of the reasons business meetings often fail is that someone sets out to impress the boss or key members of the team by agreeing with everything they say – nodding dog syndrome.
Some people seem to need to align themselves with important players rather than with the needs of the business and that prevents an open an honest discussion. Everything the boss says is a great idea; exactly what the nodding dog worker thought about the issue and he couldn’t have put it better himself!
If you want to discourage the nodding dogs at your business meeting ensure you set the rules in advance. Send an email to all the delegates, including the boss, that frank and open discussion is the order of the day and that the senior team have signed up to this.
That way everyone will feel able to say what they really think and even dissent from the “company line”.
It is very important to ensure the minutes or notes of the meeting clearly state this was the agreed way of working. That way even those team members who weren’t at the meeting can see original thinking is encouraged within the organisation.
Business meetings where everyone talks freely and brainstorms ideas without fear or favour achieve much more than an hour in a room with nodding dogs. After all, minds are like parachutes, they work best when open!