Schlagwort-Archive: Metaphor

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.

The lighthouse – the ideal metaphor for a reference point

The longest active lighthouse was the Pharos of Alexandria, the seventh of seven wonders of the ancient world, which was in operation from 300 BC to 1300 AD. Its estimated height was between 380 and 520 feet. He is said to have shown the way to the ships over a distance of 30 miles. In the flat terrain, ships could find their way to the safe harbor. On US coasts there are over 400 lighthouses. Although ships navigate worldwide with satellite navigation, the beacons are still burning. Just as these landmarks show the way for captains and helmsmen, a company needs reference points to which its employees orient themselves in their daily work.

Without the signals, ships run the risk of missing the port or even worse running aground. The corporate tanker also uses its „landmarks“ – vision, strategy, and governance.

  • The widely visible signs
    The only things that penetrate the darkness are the lights shimmering on the shore. The beacon can be recognized by its clocking, i.e. the rhythm of the light signal. On this basis and in combination with other beacons, the navigators calculate the route into the harbor.
    Companies are also on a journey to specific destinations. In order for everyone to move in the same direction, top management publishes its mission and vision. This is not a concrete endpoint, but the direction of all efforts – to create something new; to move the world forward; to do something wonderful and issue it; to help the world to become better.
  • The goal
    If you are still in the open sea, the beacon leads into the port of destination. The lighthouse is only a means to an end to point the ship in the right direction. The way goes through a sufficient fairway around dangerous cliffs into the narrow opening of the harbor. The anchorage is the destination.
    In the company, the overarching goals are set by the management. Thus, they create a framework to which the further refinements are aligned until they have described the tasks of each individual employee as smartified specifications. Here are the tangible endpoints, whose fulfillments can be measured – time savings by 10%; 5% increase in quantities; ten new customers per month.
  • The nimbleness
    To reach the safe harbor, the bearings of the beacons are converted on board of the ship into the desired route. The navigators need certain formulas and values that determine the course and the ability to align the ship accordingly.
    Employees also benefit from fixed points to which they align their procedures. This includes, in addition to the path to the desired result, a certain behavior in dealing with customers and working with colleagues, and above all an appropriate leadership style. All levels, managers and employees, need the necessary skills to adapt to the circumstances.
  • The experience
    Seafarers know their landmarks. Each tower has its own signal, which results from the rotation time and the type of light. The necessary knowledge can be found in a special directory and in the head of the seamen. During the day, the towers can be recognized by their shape, the painting and the peculiarities of the location – the hills, trees, and beaches.
    Such orientation points are also helpful in the company, as the employees learn over time to orient themselves accordingly. On the bridge of the enterprise, in the management, the signals are developed and published accessible for all. The workforce must be able to acquire the knowledge autonomously. Just as in shipping, today there are modern navigation aids, above all the intranet and its search engine. Over time, employees learn to distinguish the signals and react accordingly.

Bottom line: Signs visible from afar offer a reference point that keeps a company on course, just like a ship. The purpose of a company offers that way a clear direction that creates the framework for all activities. Within this framework, the objectives are refined until they clearly communicate to each employee, what they have to achieve. With the necessary skills to adapt, the workforce develops the nimbleness to arrive. The longer the employees work with it, the more experienced they become in dealing with it. The lighthouse represents the required checkpoint particularly well and is therefore an ideal metaphor for a reference point in business.