Sometimes it’s good to check that things in your organisation are running like clockwork. You get into a pattern of behaviour that might seem entirely normal to you, something perhaps that you do behind closed doors, but which would be actually quite embarrassing if someone walked in on you…

It happens to organisations too, especially to governments. Things are done a certain way because, well, that’s how they’ve always been done.

It’s one of these scenarios that now has a large portion of the world sniggering in disbelief at the Swiss. Why? Because when air traffic controllers had a hijacking declared on an Ethiopian Airlines jet from Addis Ababa to Rome, which wanted to land in Geneva, and they called on the Swiss airforce, they probably reached an answerphone…

The Swiss air force, it seems, operates only in office hours.

As Bloomberg News so pithily puts it: “Invading Switzerland? Try Before 8 or After 5.”

This incident happened at around six in the morning. You couldn’t make it up!

Maybe the rest of us have got it wrong? Perhaps after five PM what we should all be doing is relaxing in our chalets with a nice fondu. Those Swiss fighter jockeys aren’t glued to their iPhones until ten o’clock at night “just in case something happens”. No, they’re tucked-up safe in the knowledge that the Italians and the French can shoot things down until they’ve had their breakfast. There’s something very civilised about that.

For the rest of us though, it’s a signal to cast a glance around every now and again and just ask ourselves whether the ways we are set in are normal or a bit out of step with the times. When push comes to shove, would we operate like clockwork?

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