"The dentist preaches how we must be committed, and then he arrives late to his own meetings," a disgruntled physician's assistant complains. To calm this ubiquitous office gripe, Linda Miles -- whose $1.6-million Virginia Beach, Va., company, Linda L. Miles & Associates, gives more than 100 training seminars a year to health-care professionals and their staffs -- dreamed up the Tardy Kitty: for every minute late to a meeting, the culprit must pitch $1 into the kitty. At quarter's end, the accumulated fines fund a night out for the staff.

Grateful seminar attendees tell Miles that chronic latecomers are now prompt. "The key to its success is that there are no exceptions, because it's usually the leader who is running late," Miles observes.