The Snow White Theory

The Snow White Theory

What kind of people make up your organisation? Our new columnist Timothy O'Neil-Dunne explains his workplace theory

What kind of people make up your organisation? Our new columnist Timothy O'Neil-Dunne explains his workplace theory

What kind of people make up your organisation?
What kind of people make up your organisation?

Today we introduce a new columnist for Travel Daily Media. Timothy O’Neil-Dunne will be penning an occasional column on technology and the travel marketplace. We asked him to start with some observations on the state of travel and technology and he came up with this set of observations. You can expect him to be thought provoking, we’ve included a profile on the author at the bottom of the text.


The Snow White Syndrome in Organisations.

What kind of organisation do you have? Engaged or just sleeping for 100 years? What kind of organisations exist in the travel industry?

Some of you I know are super engaged with your organisations. Yet some of you are not. Just as in life there is a spectrum of players. In organisations which I interact with – I witness a broad swath of types. I have even come to categorise them – I call them the Seven Dwarfs and friends. Once I start a project – I try to understand them and then categorise them so I can work with the organisation. I usually get it right. But it takes time. And when I get it wrong I learn quickly to change. And this is interesting because people present different personas to you. There are many who come across as one but are in reality they are another.

What are these types in organisations? I think my categorisation is much more accurate than Myers Briggs and WAY more fun.

Sleepy. These are the space fillers. They occupy space. They rush for titles occupy them and then nothing – its as if they are asleep. They produce rarely if ever a thing of value. They are very selfish. First out the door. Yes you know the type. More than 25% of your organisation are Sleepy. But don’t confuse them with Dopey types. Sleepy types are actually quite smart. They are just so universally lazy. Finding a way to engage them is an art form. There are no Sleepys at Google.

Grumpy. Real Grumpys are probably the most dangerous of all the organisational workers – they are actually destructive. They hoard knowledge and will NEVER share. They actively enjoy seeing projects fail. They never think about the big picture. You must root them out and get them as far away from anything that requires success. Be careful. Mis type casting can be a major problem.

Sneezy – (Also known as Mr or Ms Excuse). They have the most sick days. They are always late to provide their information. They hold up projects because they are too busy being sick, or just too busy well… being.

Certain types of people will be damaging
Certain types of people will be damaging

Dopey. In company meetings Dopey is always hiding. Not hiding like Bashful does because he is shy – nope – he is hiding because he is afraid someone will notice that he is actually stupid. He spends his entire life hiding the terrible secret that he is entirely useless. Dopeys do not make good entrepreneurs.

Happy. These are the engaged workers. They don’t want to be entrepreneurs for whatever reason but they are contributors.Willing to help and get do more than their fair share. You always hope that your team is comprised of the majority of these people. Be careful Happys like to find new challenges. If you don’t find something challenging for them – you will lose them. Happys tend to think they make good entrepreneurs – but frequently they are not good at it.

Bashful. The Bashfuls of an organisation are a work in progress. They are afraid of their own shadow. Somewhere in time they were slapped down for doing something they thought was right. Now they know better to keep their head down and keep to themselves. Bashfuls are not contributors. However Bashfuls have great potential. You have to find them and turn them into Happys.

Doc. Doc is the organisational knowledge source. Rarely does her/his title indicate their value to the organisation. They know all the little nuances. Trying to find them is relatively easy. Showing themselves as being of worth is also not hard. Acknowledging their existance is really important. They don’t have to be managers. The worst thing you can do is promote them to run people.

Snow White. Frankly she was so perfect that you are honored to have her in your organisation. Everything looks good. Work product, attendance all the metrics we usually have. However she is the one who is also so gullible that she took a bite of the apple knowing full well that it was wrong. Thereafter people forget her and she lives the rest of her days in the organisation with the scarlet letter with everyone knowing she messed up. Her effectiveness and value to the organisation lost forever.

So now that I have given you how the majority of organisations are populated who are the key types you should try and find, these are actually quite rare. In my opinion no organisation is complete without them. Here are my top three:

Thumper. Oh how we need lots of Thumpers. The bigger the organization the more Thumpers you need. Thumpers know how to get things done. They are the back door people. Happy to help get you ahead. They may look like they are out only for themselves but when the organisation is threatened – they are there at the barricades.

Bambi. Bambi almost invariably starts badly in an organisation. Very unstable on his legs. He makes mistakes. Too often Bambi is sidelined and never show. . But he learns and he is really valuable. He is never a loner so you have to be careful not to label him as a Dopey or Sleepy. He works with people to help them AND himself. Eventually he is rewarded or quietly he can slip away. Sometimes he has to move on and go to a different forest. His leaderships skills are often taught at the school of hard knocks. But he had a solid education as well.

Timothy O'Neil-Dunne
Timothy O’Neil-Dunne

Giapetto. Each project needs a Giapetto. Only projects with a Giapetto succeed. We need to have someone who is the guy making things happen. He really wants the project to succeed and will do everything in his power to do that. If that person is high enough and the corporate sponsor then you are usually assured of the best possible chance of success. Too low and the more senior Grumpys will kill you.

Now children walk out into the hallway – have a look at your colleagues and classify them… go on you know you want to… which label do they deserve – oh yes and which one are YOU?


Author Profile

Timothy O’Neil-Dunne is managing partner at travel consultancy firm T2Impact Ltd. He serves as the lead for the airline, aviation and airport practice. He is a Co-founder of VaultPAD an accelerator devoted exclusively to travel and travel-related startup businesses.

He has worked in aviation and travel distribution for more than 30 years, including time with Worldspan as head of technology where he managed international technology services from product to infrastructure. Timothy was a founding management team member of the Expedia team where he headed the ground transportation and international portfolios, before founding T2Impact in 1998.

He sits on the boards of several Travel Technology companies. Amongst his other functions he is a permanent advisor to the World Economic Forum. He is writes, blogs and can be occasionally be seen speaking on Travel at conferences worldwide. Timothy technically lives in Seattle WA USA but seems to spend most of his time on planes.

Gary Marshall
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Gary Marshall
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