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Robert McKinlay, Senior Project Manager



When MD Dee was twelve years old, she craved freedom above all else. All she wanted was to be allowed to ride her bike on the road. Go anywhere, do anything. Go to the big shops at the other end of the village, visit her friends and family members on her own. Endless possibilities. There were only two obstacles which stood in her way — the cycling proficiency test, and a complete inability to tell her left from right.

The first part of the proficiency test, the theory, was written. Not a problem for Dee. She knew all about tests and they had never been a problem before. She studied what she needed to study and answered the questions she needed to answer, passing with flying colours. The practical part, however, didn't go so well. That silly left-from-right business only got in the way, and she failed. Miserably.

Bursting into tears proved a successful strategy of appeal. The examiners, feeling sorry for her, gave her a certificate anyway and the waterworks duly stopped, replaced with a squeal and a smile from ear to ear. On the foundations that certificate, on various occasions, came a cacophony of catastrophe including but by no means limited to a broken collarbone, two missing front teeth and innumerable skinned knees.

Dee knew everything there was to know about riding that bike safely. She knew all the things and had the paperwork to back it up. She had all of the information in her head, primed and ready to recall but when it came to actually sitting in the saddle and turning the wheels, she was lacking. All of the knowledge, not enough of the ability.

Knowing something may offer compliance with the rules, but it doesn’t guarantee competence when it comes to applying them.

Exactly the same principles apply to your business. Your people might know everything there is to know about the frameworks and work structures that are in place. They know because you told them, right? They maybe even answered a few multiple-choice questions about them to prove it to you and now they have a nice laminated certificate which says that they know.

But when it comes to applying that knowledge, do they have the ability? Do they have the skills? Can they take that knowledge and put it into practice?

Your people need to know the rules, so they’ll be compliant with the ideals and standards you want them to maintain. But they also need to know that those rules work in practice and how they work, so they can be competent in applying them. So they can take that knowledge and put it into practice. They have already demonstrated that they know the what, but have they shown that they know the why and the how as well?


Many of our clients work in high-risk industries such as construction, oil and gas, waste and water management. So, we know the difference between knowing what the rules are and knowing what they mean.

At We Are Brass Tacks, we apply advertising principles and consumer psychology to internal communications. We treat colleagues as valuably as you treat your customers.

In the same way that you never bored anyone into buying something, we believe that:


You never bored anyone into buying ‘into’ something.

Our job is to make sure that the people in your company know what to do and how to do it from the minute they come on board. That means making sure everyone, from the top down, understands your standards and how to live up to them.

We take the rules, the regulations, the dry, boring pieces of information and transform it into a clear narrative with laser focussed messaging. We also make the whole thing look and feel pretty slick too.

We train. We talk. We teach. We make it interesting, engaging and fun.


Some of our tools are conventional - No harm in a nice-looking PowerPoint every now and again, and worksheets and printed information to take away certainly have their place.

Some are less so - We are massive advocates of technology and use it wherever we can to bring the information we’re presenting to life. Animation. Interactive training programmes. Workshops. We even invent games and role-playing exercises that help cement learning and provide sticky reminders of important topics and subjects to keep them at the front of your mind, on and off the job.


It does work.... And we know it works... Because we monitor the results.

Across the board we have seen a measurable decrease in things such as accidents, lost-time incidents and rule breaking, and a measurable increase in workforce engagement and participation.

This tells us that the easier your message is to digest, the easier it is to apply, and the easier it is to apply the more people contribute positively to the growth and success of your business.

Dee still struggles with her left and her right but she managed to pass her driving test so she must be safe by now, right?



We Are Brass Tacks are specialist communicators.

We deal with challenging subjects, working across businesses to successfully deliver positive change. You can see exactly how we do this, funnily enough, on our HOW page.

And if you’d like to even know more, we’re always up for a no-commitment, no-charge chat over coffee. And possibly cake.

Give us a call on 0141 212 2481, or drop us a line at hello


We’d love to hear from you.

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