Sports Alalogies LO16582

DHurst1046 (
Fri, 16 Jan 1998 09:38:09 EST

Replying to LO16566 --

Hi Jane Henderson,

In a message dated 1/16/98 6:29:51 AM EST, you write:

"Having been in the corporate world
quite a while, I hope never to hear another meaningless sports analogy
offered. It is "exclusive" rather than "inclusive" and both alienates and
angers those of us who have no idea what "quarterbacking" or "punting"
etc. means--and don't want to."

That sounds a little drastic...If you try to get to the meaning intended,
the analogies may give you all kinds of insights into how senior
management is framing the world and how the internal dynamics work. The
use of (American) football analogies by senior managers often indicates
the presence of the classical top-down "senior manager-as-strategist"
framework which may or may not be appropriate to the firm's circumstances.
Many managers love to think of themselves as quarterbacks because of the
fast feedback and control the analogy implies. Their actual situation is
often more like that of gardeners - glacial, confusing feedback and
minimal control! Certainly if you were trying to communicate with such
managers you could use such insights to advantage.

I knew that the conglomerate our firm was part of was in deep trouble when
the CEO in a published interview described himself and his management team
as "hired guns". The analogy told me nothing about the organization and
was alienating to everyone who didn't feel like a cowboy (it was a very
macho outfit!), but it (together with many other clues) spoke volumes
about the dangerous fantasy being lived at the top of the corporation. The
corporation cratered a few years later, largely due to the arrogance of
the CEO and his refusal to listen to anyone who disagreed with him (they
were "gunned down").

David Hurst


DHurst1046 <>

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