Straw management

Imagine a glass filled with straws, and water up to the brim. The straws represent everyone who works in the company, regardless of position. The water represents knowledge. By looking at the water from outside of the glass, you can see how much knowledge the business has. The more water, the more knowledge.

Photo by Thoa Ngo on Unsplash

Companies appear to be knowledgeable from people outside if they have a good sharing culture within, and when competence flows freely between employees. When all employees help each other, and see the company as a whole, they also appear stronger. In an uncertain situation, this culture can make a sudden change, which can lead to some people protecting their knowledge to secure their own future.

Selfish plug on the straw

A leader who feels insecure, or a forward-thinking top salesman in a company, may be tempted to keep the cards to him-/herself. Any existing or new knowledge might not be passed on or shared with others. Holding all the cards he/she will try to ensure that the job is retained, or that no one takes the position away.

If we imagine the glass with straws again, the selfish person represents the one puts a stopper in the top of his/her straw — which ensures that none of the water flows out to the others. The circulation stops in this straw. It becomes airtight and all the water remains. The knowledge is not shared.

Even worse, if this also happens to be an extra selfish person, you can imagine that he/she sucks up a little extra water in the straw, leaving it to contain a little more than the others. The individual may be filled up, but the water in the entire glass sinks as an effect. One person may be extra knowledgeable, but the company as a whole appears weaker.

A bad role model affects several

Once one person has chosen to absorb knowledge without sharing, by absorbing extra water and then sealing it at the top, others can be influenced or forced to do the same.

Several colleagues can also choose to absorb knowledge and then seal the top of their straw. The more people doing this, the emptier the glass will appear from the outside.

This is how it is for many companies. Selfish leaders and employees may be good workers and full of knowledge. But if there is no culture to help each other, and to share knowledge, the company as a whole will appear weaker.

Be transparent and generous, and let this be a consistent culture in the company. Let the knowledge flow, and learn from each other. It makes everyone appear stronger together.




Public speaker and marketing enthustiast with an optimistic curious mind for future possibilities. I’m here to improve my writing. Reach out at

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Kristian L. Thomassen

Kristian L. Thomassen

Public speaker and marketing enthustiast with an optimistic curious mind for future possibilities. I’m here to improve my writing. Reach out at

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