Metaphors of Business

Metaphors of Business and Money

 Click Here for Business Metaphors Online Training

Bespoke and preset training programs – strictly no powerpoint! (Because I don’t know, nor care, how to use it)

The video below was from a Business Metaphors workshop in India. It’s nearly an hour long.  Apologies for the poor sound quality, we never actually planned on making it public at the time, but I thought it worth sharing here just for the fun element.

  • Metaphors of Business enables an accurate assessment of business identity…
  • Metaphors of Business enables a congruent message with that identity…
  • Metaphors of Business identifies conflicts between the medium and the message…
  • Metaphors of Business is a forensic tool that slices straight through the corporate-speak and buzz-words to find what is really going on…
  • Metaphors of Business enables precise workplace communication to bridge the gap between higher management and the workforce…
  • Metaphors of Business is a radical approach that creates rapid and identifiable change.

Business Identity and Business Structure

There are many business models, but so many effective business models and management systems conflict with the mindsets of the people implementing them. These conflicts are often invisible and manifest in confusion and disorientation as managers struggle to explain what has happened.

An easy example of this is the manager who consulted us with the following problem. When asked to state in as few words as possible what the problem was, he replied, “My business does not seem to be going anywhere.

We enquired what his solution to this has been so far. He told us, “I have been building my business up for nearly three years and working hard building it on firm, solid foundations. I just don’t understand why it isn’t moving forward.

It is this conflict of the most basic business models that we find occurring so commonly. Something built on firm, solid foundations should not be moving anywhere.

The conflict is between “building” of business and “moving the business forward.”
In examining the deep metaphorical structure of experience and the metaphors why which people understand their business to operate, the solutions to the predicaments can become remarkably clear remarkably quickly.

For example, a trainer for one large organisation reported to us that he was experiencing strong resistance from the workforce to the implementation of the new directives from the senior management team (SMT). SMT had wanted their workforce to “feel more empowered” and the trainer was arranging workshops and study days to try and bring about this empowerment. We asked the SMT how they will know when their workforce was suitably “empowered” and how they would measure this.

The reply came back, “Because they will be on board with the new directives.”

This term “be on board” was met with loads of nodding and positive murmurs of agreement.

The trainer had even entitled his training, “Getting on Board the Bus” – a catchy title according to SMT and they had even provided a large banner of happy smiling people boarding the “management bus” with the slogan beneath that read, “Are you on board the management bus?

We asked SMT, “So, you want your workforce to feel empowered….to be passengers?”

It’s a small detail, but an important one. In addition to this the image of a “management bus” did not match the image that the workforce held of SMT nor any of the systems of management that were being implemented within the organisation.

Other common metaphorical themes in business start-up metaphors involve the following: 

Business as Agriculture

  • Planting seeds for new business
  • Growing a business
  • Expanding organically
  • Sowing new ideas and concepts
  • Taking a product to market
  • Seasonal variations
Business as Building

  • Building new business
  • Having solid foundations
  • Business plans and blueprints
  • Putting a new level onto the business
  • Taking it to a new level
  • A robust business that will stand the test of time
Business as a Vehicle/Ship

  • Driving business forward
  • Getting on board the new venture
  • Launching the new business
  • Using business as a vehicle for success
  • On the road to success
  • Being at the helm
Business as a Journey

  • My new venture
  • Moving forward into new pastures
  • Taking this forward into a new future
  • My personal journey
  • On the path to success
  • Moving towards the target
Business as Violence/War

  • Our advertising campaign requires military precision
  • Hostile takeover
  • Marketing campaign
  • Moving in on competitor’s territory
  • Going head to head with competitors
  • It’s a minefield out there
  • We need to rally the troops
Business as a Rocketry

  • A quick launch
  • Blasting your profits skywards
  • Taking off to heady heights
  • Skyrocket to success
  • The rapid rise to success
  • Being on top
  • Being a rising star
  • Business is just flying

Metaphors of Business

For details of consultancy and bespoke training, please contact:

Andrew T. Austin (West Sussex, UK) – email: