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Tickle Me Elmo: A Story About Training And Communications

elmoThis allegedly took place in a factory in the USA which makes the ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ toys, (a children’s plush cuddly toy which laughs when tickled under the arm). The legend has is it that a new employee is hired at the Tickle Me Elmo factory and she duly reports for her first day’s induction training, prior to being allocated a job on the production line.

At 08:45 the next day the personnel manager receives a visit from an excited assembly line foreman who is not best pleased about the performance of the new recruit. The foreman explains that she is far too slow, and that she is causing the entire line to back-up, delaying the whole production schedule. The personnel manager asks to see what’s happening, so both men proceed to the factory floor.

On arrival they see that the line is indeed badly backed-up – there are hundreds of Tickle Me Elmos strewn all over the factory floor, and they are still piling up. Virtually buried in a mountain of toys sits the new employee earnestly focused on her work. She has a roll of red plush fabric and a bag of marbles. The two men watch amazed as she cuts a little piece of fabric, wraps it around a pair of marbles and carefully begins sew the little package between Elmo’s legs.

The personnel manager begins to laugh, and it is some while before he can compose himself, at which he approaches the trainee. “I’m sorry,” he says to her, not able to disguise his amusement, “but I think you misunderstood the instructions I gave you yesterday…. Your job is to give Elmo two test tickles.”

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