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Cutting Through the Crap to get Things Done - Greg Dyke

Greg Dyke is Chairman of the British Film Institute and former Director General of the BBC. In this short video Greg talks about how to get things done as a leader. He touches on the introduction of Freeview and a referee’s yellow card with “Cut the Crap” written on it. This card was distributed to employees in the BBC with the intention of making meetings more meaningful.

Greg spoke to leaders at Wavelength Connect event On Your Marks 2012. In the question and answer session Greg was asked by a current BBC senior leader about how leaders can effect fundamental change.

Question: “In folk memory, what you were really good at was cutting through the crap and simplifying things. How does a leader go into a big complex strange organisation and effect fundamental change in terms of simplicity”.

To demonstrate some of the techniques that Greg used he recalls how in a BBC companywide meeting he introduced a yellow referee’s card with “Cut the Crap” on. He told people in the organisation that he would give one of the cards to anyone who wanted one and gave them his permission to use the cards in meetings. If they were in a meeting which they couldn’t stand any longer because things were not getting done then they were able to pull out the “Cut the Crap” yellow card. In the end they distributed over 5,000 of these cards.

Greg said that at the time the BBC had a big meeting culture and people could spend all day in meetings. This was simple and brilliant mechanism for getting stuff done because the individuals that ran the meetings were scared to death that someone was going to pull out one the cards.

Greg goes on to cite his top four tips that leaders should do in order to get things done:

  1. Keep a simple view of what you are trying to achieve. Know what the half dozen things are that you are going to do this year and focus on them. Let all other things get on with themself.

  2. Make sure don’t get involved in all the detail.

  3. Make sure you understand the money. In the BBC Greg says that too many people didn’t really understand the money or know where the cash was. As a leader your job is to get the figures that matter presented to you in a way that you understand.

  4. Don’t let boredom kill your ideas. Greg says that often good ideas are killed by boredom, you can have a good idea but unless you decided to just go with it you can analyse it to death and they just don’t happen.

Greg briefly describes how using the principals above he managed to take Freeview from an idea to selling boxes within 4months.

Greg Dyke is part of Wavelength’s speakers bureau to view his full biography, find links to other video’s and to book Greg for a speaking engagement go to Wavelength Speakers Bureau Greg Dyke.

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