6 Management Lessons from Alice in Wonderland

When Alice falls down the rabbit hole, she embarks on a bizarre adventure to Wonderland where she meets many crazy creatures along the way. From the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter to the awful Queen of Hearts who want to cut heads, Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland in 1865 as a children’s tale, but the whole book is a fascinating management practice metaphor, more current than ever. Alice’s journey resembles pretty much what entrepreneurs face nowadays in the chaotic world of modern business, with volatile characters and wild situations.

Alice in Wonderland (and its sequel, Alice through the Looking Glass) are gripping, witty and thoughtful books, but the quotes are priceless nuggets of wisdom that can be applied to our current business world.

Here are some of my favorites:

Lesson 1

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat, “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Craziness is a fact of life in Wonderland, as well as in our own world. The Cheshire Cat’s conversation with Alice reminds us that to be an entrepreneur, you have to be a bit crazy and gather a lot of courage to embark on a business journey into the unknown. But you must believe in your madness to change the world, adapt to it, try new things and go different ways.

Lesson 2

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." said the Cat.

"I don't much care where, Alice answered."

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.”

Again, The Cheshire Cat makes Alice ponder, now on her sense of direction. If you don’t have a clear plan or vision, then you may end up, well, it doesn’t really matter where. In business, having a vision of where you want to see your business is important to mark your actions.

Lesson 3

“Begin at the beginning”, the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end.”

When managing and analysing processes in order to improve them, you have to start at the beginning. Determine the procedures and resources in the current state. Then, with discipline and perseverance, unravel the process and its parts, step by step understanding the reasons for every task. Only then, can you start the revision process necessary to take you to the next level.

Lesson 4

“Curiouser and curiouser!, said Alice.”

Alice’s sense of curiosity grows through the book. And yes, it leads her to weird markets, product ideas. That is where the magic is. Novel ways of doing business may be uncomfortable at first but you will get used to them. Used to innovating.

Lesson 5

"It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then, said Alice.”

A rabbit obsessed with time rushes Alice into a crazy adventure through a rabbit hole. She runs into crazy characters, she grows and shrinks at proportions and times that leave her confused. A mad Queen wants her head. She tries to make sense of it all, but she learns a lot. Our world, just like Alice’s, constantly changes, leaving us exhausted and confused, but we are made up of experiences that make our mind shift and our heart grow.

Lesson 6

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast, said the White Queen”

This quote is actually from the book Alice through the Looking Glass, the sequel of the first book. It has been studied and theorized, but it carries a valuable lesson – creativity and imagination is essential. Believing in the impossible paves the way to innovation and growth.

The Duchess told Alice that “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” Alice in Wonderland reminds us that It does take a bit of craziness to manage a business, but you also need a sense of wonder and adventure, meet a few “Mad Hatter” customers and “Cheshire Cats” suppliers, or “Queen of Hearts” government, who will teach you valuable lessons of grit faith.

For more information on management insights and lessons, you can reach Mariel at info@rblanguageconsulting.com or Erika at erika@rblanguageconsulting.com

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