Lessons from Paddington Bear

Paddington Bear is known for being polite and well meaning, if a little accident prone.  The fictional character created by Michael Bond in 1958 is the subject of a film released today in the UK.  What lessons from Paddington Bear can we learn about managing information?

  1. Keep a Little Something Under Your Hat

“Would you like a marmalade sandwich? I keep one under my hat in case of an emergency.” (Here and Now)

Being a sensible bear, Paddington is aware that however well you prepare, things can go wrong.  It is therefore important to be prepared.  An emergency is a sudden situation that requires immediate attention.  An emergency may be unexpected but it should not be unanticipated.  Controls should be in place to try, as far as it is possible to do so, to prevent data being corrupted, lost or the subject of unauthorized access.  Processes should also be in place to respond to such situations if they do occur.  The processes need to resolve the situation, provide business continuity, communicate effectively to relevant parties, reflect on what happened and implement controls to avoid the situation reoccurring.

  1. Take a Break for a Little Something

“You don’t want to spoil your elevenses.” (Here and Now)

Paddington takes elevenses with his friend Mr Gruber.  A short break with a hot drink and a cake (or biscuit) provides the opportunity to reflect on a situation and talk through any issues.  The pressures of dealing with daily information management problems can lead to a seemingly endless cycle of damage limitation.  It is therefore important to regularly stop, take a step back and think about what the organization aims to achieve and what is preventing the organization achieving its aims.

  1. Raise Your Hat

Paddington’s Aunt Lucy taught Paddington to be polite and respectful to everyone he meets.  Digitized data are displayed as text and charts on computer screens.  Data management focuses on data as assets, controlling the processes that affect the data assets during the life cycle.  As data are manipulated by automatic and manual processes, it is easy to forget that the data are used to provide information about individuals, organizations and situations.  It is therefore important to remember the human aspect of data handling and treat personal information respectfully.

  1. Give a Hard Stare

Paddington expresses his disapproval by giving someone a hard stare, or in the case of serious disapproval, a very hard stare.  Some information management problems, such as incomplete data, can be avoided if care is taken to accurately capture and maintain data.  Short cuts are taken, sometimes due to the need to workaround the limitations of an inflexible system, or sometimes due to time pressures or lack of understanding of the implications of the action.  Often short cuts are witnessed and ignored but a seemingly small action can lead to incomplete or corrupted data.  A culture of mutual responsibility needs to be developed where mistakes can be addressed and reduced. If you witness a problem, give a hard stare.

  1. Make a Simple Request

“Please look after this bear.”

Paddington was found with a label presenting a simple request from his Aunt Lucy, asking that someone look after her nephew.  The simple requests are often the most powerful.  One person or one team cannot manage the organization’s information; everyone needs to take responsibility for their actions that affect the quality and availability of information.  Please think about how you use information and please look after your information.


Further Reading: information management processes to improve information quality are discussed in Chapter 8.

Please use the following to reference this blog post in your own work:

Cox, S. A., (2014), ‘Lessons from Paddington Bear’, 28 November 2014, http://www.managinginformation.org/lessons-from-paddington-bear/, [Date accessed: dd:mm:yy]

© 2014 Sharon A Cox