The human being – the ideal metaphor for organizations

Anthropomorphic assignments always happen, when we deal with things as if they were enlivened – the dialogues with the computer, the jollied pat on the steering wheel or the encouragement to the water pump that is supposed to pump the cellar to clean for one more time. It seems that we are seeing in things a submissive spirit at our service. Let us remember Goethe’s sorcerer’s apprentice “Lord the need is great! The ones that I called, I now cannot get rid of the spirits”. However, the spirit is not only assigned to material things, but also to disembodied organizations of all kinds – the state, the government, the political party, the enterprise, the market, as well as social communities and fringe groups.

Obviously, this has proved to be the case, as blame is being laid on such groups everywhere: Facebook spies on us; the right-wings endanger the state; Amazon exploits the employees, and so on. Nobody mentions the responsible persons. What causes this view on organizations?

  • The tangibility of entrepreneurial personality
    Personification begins when the attributes of a role are assigned to a company. This includes the tasks of the company, which are not limited to the provision of services, but also include social functions, such as supporting the health of employees and events of all kinds. The impression of the AKV is not only created from the outside with the external image. In these days of media, companies do not leave their image to chance, but work on their standing, their self-image, by spreading their engagement in the media. This works as long as there is no Maximum Credible Accident (MCA). A good example of a face loss was the attempt in 1995 to dump the Brent Spar in the North Sea. The bad guy was Shell, not the responsible chairman Cor Herkströter.
  • The lived out convictions
    The advantageous convictions are emphasized through public relations. This includes a hopeful outlook onto the future and goes from values, concerning what is right and wrong, to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. Thus, the company gets the attributes that we use to describe ourselves. To make these soft aspects tangible, there is the ISO Guideline 26000 that brings the social conscience to a common denominator – concerning governance, human rights, labor practices, the environment, fair business practices, customer problems and societal commitment development. And then one proclaims on its website Corporate Social Responsibility by KIK – without signature or mentioning of names.
  • The competitive key skills
    The corporate skills are defined by the knowledge and proficiency of its workforce, the management style and the existing infrastructure. By focusing on core competencies, the company bundles its strengths. As the vertical range of production becomes flatter and more and more services are provided in combination with a lot of different companies, the self-image needs clarity with regard on one’s own focal points. Do the strengths lie in the selection of the right emphasis? Or the appropriate implementation? Or the ability to quickly exploit trends? Or the strength to develop something new? Or in the skill of effectively allocating one’s own resources? We can imagine the service provider as a person, who, for example, helps large corporations to better align their IT to their business success with software – his name is Alfabet Inc.
  • The visible actions
    When looking at what is happening in the enterprise, the actions become visible – which goods and services are offered? How are the processes designed (especially at the touchpoints)? How is it controlled? What is disseminated through the media and how? How does the management level appear in public? We are measured by our actions. If a private individual evades taxes, he is publicly pilloried and sentenced to prison. Companies such as Microsoft, which divert the vast amounts of profits pass the tax office, are not tangible and get away with it – who is the responsible CEO?
  • The recognizable context
    The published image provides evidence of the perceived affiliation of a company. In addition, the business scope and the choice of partners allow drawing conclusions about how the company sees itself. How uniform does the company appear in different regions? Are the values adapted to local morality or do global standards apply? That can go as far that one loses the national bond and instead of Made in Germany introduces Made by Mercedes Benz. And then there are companies where the brand is also represented by an entrepreneurial personality consider Trigema and you think of the sole owner Wolfgang Grupp.

Bottom line: In summary, you recognize that the qualities attributed to a company correspond to those of persons. This begins with the corporate identity that is used to present yourself as young, sedate or creative personality. In the absence of differences, the values become important – those, who once damage the environment, will …. As in sporty matches, companies compete against each other in an effort to attract the customer’s attention. It is not enough to be the first, but you also have to cross the finish line with style. After the pendulum of globalization swings back again into the nation, identity becomes important again – no matter whether with „Buy American“ or „Make America great again“. The personification of large groups makes it easier for the public to deal with abstract companies. That makes the human being the ideal metaphor for organizations.