Use a no brown M&M's clause


There is a popular story about David Lee Roth exemplifying the insane demands of a power-mad celebrity by insisting that Van Halen’s contracts with concert promoters contain a clause that a bowl of M&M's has to be provided backstage with every single brown candy removed, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation to the band.

At least once, Van Halen followed through, peremptorily canceling a show in Colorado when Roth found some brown M&M's in his dressing room - a clear violation of the No Brown M&M's Clause.

However, in his book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Atul Gawande recounted the explanation that Roth provided in his memoir Crazy from the Heat. “Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors - whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.”

Therefore, because there was so much equipment, requiring so much coordination to make their concerts function smoothly and safely, Van Halen’s contracts were massive. So, just as a little test to see if the contract had actually been read by the concert promoters, buried somewhere in the middle would be article 126: the infamous No Brown M&M's Clause.

“When I would walk backstage,” Roth explained, “if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl, we’d line-check the entire production, guaranteed we’re going to arrive at a technical error or run into a problem.”

As Gawande noted, these mistakes could be life-threatening. The show in Colorado was canceled not because of brown M&Ms, but because the local promoters had failed to read the weight requirements and the staging would have fallen through the arena floor.

Have you ever wondered if your business requirements document has actually been read?

Use a No Brown M&M's Clause. Bury somewhere in the middle of the document a clause stating that a bowl of M&M's must be provided on the conference room table at the requirements review meeting, with every single brown M&M removed.

If you arrive at the meeting and find some brown M&M's in the bowl (or there’s no bowl of M&M's), then state that you know your requirements document wasn’t read - and walk out of the meeting.


About Author

Jim Harris

Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality (OCDQ)

Jim Harris is a recognized data quality thought leader with 25 years of enterprise data management industry experience. Jim is an independent consultant, speaker, and freelance writer. Jim is the Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality, an independent blog offering a vendor-neutral perspective on data quality and its related disciplines, including data governance, master data management, and business intelligence.

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