HR & Management

What company would you create or work for were you in the Roald Dahl universe?

10 min read

14 September 2017

Roald Dahl day has just passed us by and it got us thinking: what featured companies would bosses most like to work for? And would they create a startup were they included in this vast universe?

Fictional books, created by the likes of Roald Dahl, Ernest Hemingway and even JRR Tolkein, have long been a source of inspiration for the corporate world. Cited by many as a good read is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, which places emphasis on getting out of your comfort zone and remembering your journey’s starting point.

On the latter, who could forget this passage: “It’s called the principle of favourability. When you play cards the first time, you are almost sure to win. Beginner’s luck. Why is that? Because there is a force that wants you to realise your Personal Legend; it whets your appetite with a taste of success.”

The Visual Capitalist also pointed to The Master & Margarita and 100 Years of Solitude as among the most read books in the VC community. Let’s not even get started on the attention Game of Thrones has garered regarding financial advice.

It wouldn’t be surprising if fiction conjured up thoughts of possible businesses, were they possible to implement or not. It’s an idea that stuck with us. And given that Roald Dahl day has just passed us by, we wondered what companies people would create – or most like to work for – were they included in his universe.

Standing out for Matthew Stephenson, owner of Sweetdreams, was Willy Wonka’s factory. Though the company did look like fun, it was the similarities found between the Roald Dahl classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and his own company that cemented the place in his mind.

“I am lucky enough to head up one of the leading chocolate businesses in the UK. We are always creating new and exciting products for the public to indulge in – sound familiar? We have just announced the launch of our new factory and, just like Wonka, we have arguably the top chocolate experts in the country working on creating the best products on the market.

“Having Andy Baxendale – star of the recent BBC documentary ‘The Sweet Makers’ – Mike Flower and Mark Robinson join the team really shows the weight that our name has in the British confectionary industry. And while we might not have mastered everlasting gobstoppers or lickable wallpaper yet, I know our Choc Nibbles could definitely give Wonka a run for his money!”

Similarly, Paul Goldfinch cites Wonka’s creation as his Roald Dahl dream company – but there’s a twist. He’d rather take elements found in the factory and bring it to the “real world” with him. He’d also like to nab himself two loveable Roald Dahl characters – one as an employee, the other as part of his supply chain.

“I would have to take a tour of Willy Wonka’s business to pick up some tips for our new factory floor (maybe a Polar Krush river and waterfall?) but I would love to employ George (George’s Marvelous Medicine) as a product developer at Polar Krush,” he said.

“Just like George, we are always experimenting with different flavours to make people smile, though usually with less explosive results… I would also love to speak to James about his giant peach. Our drinks are made with naturally fruity flavours and being able to source enormous fruits would be amazing for our bottom line!”

When it comes to the creation of an own company, however, the co-founder of Full Story Media, Corinne Card, has an idea. Here’s a hint: it involves Matilda.

Read on to see how Roald Dahl and people-favourite Matilda inspired the proverbial creation of the BBLP.

Card explained: “I would be part of the book Matilda. I would create a special school called ‘Big Brains, Little People (BBLP) and it would enable children with curious minds to explore subjects at their own pace through online learning.

“With digital at the heart of BBLP, Matildas everywhere would be spared the wrath of teachers who didn’t understand or care about their unique capabilities. Instead, they’d be able to fast-track their learning, getting insights from the best teachers across the world, connecting with like-minded students and collaborating to create innovative solutions to the problems of the world, in spite of their small stature and youth.

“BBLP would be loss-making at first, but as the Matildas got older they would choose to contribute to the community which helped them become innovative self-starters, gaining success and taking up leadership positions throughout the world.”

Clare Jackson, director of the Wooden Furniture Store, on the other hand, found the Roald Dahl book The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me most intriguing. More specifically, she focussed on the featured Ladderless Window Cleaning Company, loving how each member of the team played to their individual strengths.

“The giraffe has an extendable neck and can reach any window with ease, the pelican holds the water in his flexible beak and the monkey cleans the windows while singing and dancing plus there’s Billy, a sweet loving school boy who is their business manager.

“I own The Wooden Furniture Store and a key goal of my business is to make each customer feel proud of their home, whatever their style, size or budget. I think having clean windows is a great, affordable starting point to making the best of your house. I would also love to see inside people’s homes – I’m very nosy! I’d like to see how they decorated, used their space and of course where their furniture is from.

“The Ladderless Window Cleaning company have a great business lead when they are contacted by the Duke of Hampshire to clean his 677 windows. This is received by post (the book was written in the 1980’s) so I’d bring the company into the 21st century and introduce a website (naturally), on line advertising and social media campaigns. Who wouldn’t want to be a Facebook friend with a giraffe? Just think of the picture potential.

“It’s very important to have honest and reliable co-workers. This team in the book are incredibly brave too. They catch ‘The Cobra’ stealing the Duchess of Hampshire’s jewels and the pelican is shot in the process and can no longer use his beak as a bucket (that’s why personal injury insurance is so important). All is well in the end. Business dreams can come true!”

But what about the future? What would the workplace look like were it to take inspiration from the series and implement it in a few years’ time? It’s something Amelia-Eve Warden, co-founder of P&C PR has thought about in full, deeming it “the opposite reality” – quite a catchy book title. It even includes a blurb:

“You have entered the world of emergent. The beginning of something simply stunning. Where perfectionally crisp cut towers were planted from every direction, and walking was never a pass-time, hobby nor chore. Electronic belts lifting you from destination to destination, and water being your friend, you were living in a world of opposition.

“Humans were never the breadwinners, and animals were never pets. Living was combined, compact, and equality shared. From dogs wearing bark-translated collars, to birds delivering packages and tracked through chips, data was the God of Earth, much so to the point of, we would collapse without it.

“Working life was apart of your existence, and started at every point you met. No one has a role, no one had an industry. High archery never existed. Every destination you went to, you were instantly given a task to do via your ‘Dobble’ tech device, which would notify you of tasks needed doing in your local area, in order to be paid.

“You worked how ever long you wanted, for as many times a day as you liked. Men, women, animals, everything equally, had one job: to be ready for every job, to keep the world ticking, because without this system, a war would be onto us.”