No mystery: 3 ways you can improve your jobsite by watching Sherlock.

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In the vacuum left by Game of Thrones Season 3 finale, a new “best show on TV” has emerged: BBC’s Sherlock.


(Yes, I know Sherlock has been out since 2010, but when you only release 9 episodes in nearly 4 years… it sure feels new.) 


Have you seen this beast?

More than a mere TV show, the episodes are like individual movies.


And while most TV shows rot your brain, Sherlock can make you a better leader and manager.


It’s not a mystery.

Here are 3 ways to improve your jobsite performance by watching Sherlock.



UNO: Get more data.

Sherlock Holmes may be a genius, but his focus is always the same: data.

Get better data, make better decisions.


On the jobsite, consider where your data is coming from.

Is 80% of your data coming from 20% of the sources?


Do you trust your sources?


One simple way to expand your data set is to seek feedback from more people.

How many people do you see everyday yet never talk to?


Surely many Hispanic workers fall into this category because of the perceived language barrier.


Ask more workers for their perspective – increase your data set.



DOS: Be aware of your teammate’s Social IQ.

Sherlock Holmes admits to being a high-functioning sociopath.

Luckily for him, Dr. Watson is at his side, reading the emotions of a situation and counterbalancing Holmes brutal honesty.


Watson may be oblivious to the chalky residue on the pant cuff of the dead man drawn from the Thames (the man worked at rock quarry), but his Social IQ is high enough to cut Sherlock off when he’s about to tell a woman she looks fat in those pants.


On your jobsite, your Sr. Project Manager may be genius, but if he’s an asshole… it will make your job of leadership that much harder.


Leadership is a team game.

Look out for your teammates.

Play to your strengths.


And always try to limit the frequency with which assholes talk to the workers.



TRES: Nothing focuses the mind like surprise. 

Sherlock is like the movie Taken with Liam Neeson.


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Time flies when you watch it. You cannot possibly focus on anything else. But when it ends… you realize you’re exhausted from the intensity with which you were focusing for the past 90+ minutes.


Nothing focuses the mind like surprise.

It’s an evolutionary by-product of once being hunted by saber-tooth cats.

Once humans anticipate surprise, our senses turn very keen.

We view the world differently.

Use this to your advantage.


Did you notice the human skull is missing from Sherlock’s typical fireplace mantle perch? That means something… it’s a clue.”


On the jobsite, injuries most frequently occur because workers become complacent.


What else could account for the frequency of ladder injuries?

Ladders haven’t changed much in 5000 years.


We all know we shouldn’t sit on the top like it’s a barstool.

Yet… people do.


In the fight against complacency, use surprise.


Tell the workers you’ve planted a defective ladder on-site.

Encourage the workers to check them all.


Get your management team to play a surprise game of Freeze Tag.

Using a bullhorn, have every worker freeze in place at a given moment.

See which workers are performing unsafely.


Keep people on their toes….

Complacency is a killer.


Whether you’re a genius, a high-functioning sociopath or just a guy who knows how to talk to people – you can use these Sherlockian tips to improve performance on the job:

  • Get more data.
  • Be aware of Social IQ.
  • Use surprise to your advantage.



And then move onto Game of Thrones.

There’s lots of managerial lessons there too.



Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.    

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Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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1 reply

  1. Game of Thrones has management lessons, true, need to check out Sherlock. Good read, thanks.

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