Many years ago, when I was in college studying business, I noticed I was taught with business metaphors of sports, wars and conquests. I have studied how it comes centuries of conquest. The farmers stayed put, industrialists conquered the world. Colonization was a mix of war and trade.

business is war and sportMost sports are simulated battles, at least in the metaphors. We play like we work.. I get it. Everyone does it, so what?

Then I had this thought.. What if we could talk about business without war metaphors?  I am so over wars and  business metaphors of war.. Yikes!

Business Metaphors in Sales Training

My initial sales training told me to knock on more doors, to handle objections with a barrage of information, attacking the weakness until victory was at hand. This was in the era when we had seen the biggest companies branch out from regional to national to global domination. More capital, more pushing and a fighting to OWN a market.

Business philosophy for MOST of it’s history is to own things, including the brand and the customer experience.

When I learned to help people buy instead of selling, I started going to sales calls and not pushing for a sale. We called that “consultative selling”.. As soon as I let people know I sincerely wanted to help, I saw a huge jump in sales. Taught dozens to do the same and we had fun, prospered and treated people as humans. I mistaken thought that everyone was hearing about consultive selling and doing it this way.

They were not, and still not for a large part of business. Exectuives at the top are widely in the old paradigm and their success came from adhering that paradigm.

30+ years later, I’ve studied, changed my language and attempted to get rid of the sports and war metaphors. Still, I can get fired up and passionate and fall back on the history. For instance, I have had no reason to expect Monday to be back to work day for decades, yet I’d swear it still feels like I’m late for work and have things dumped on me most Mondays. 🙂

Many of us ask, knowing the revolution is happening.. why don’t they get it? (We called our book “Twitter Revolution” and people have been asking if the revolution is over since 2008.. No, it’s still just beginning)

I hold that they people do get it. Humans did business before the industrial age, person to person, without the need for centralized oversight. Business always has been human to human.. just distored during the Industrial Revolution to something that no one really planned for or wanted.

Business Metaphors Will Change to Reflect Cooperation and Relationships

We saw mass manufacturing, mass distribution and mass communication take over the world during the 20th Century. I think mass listening, individual conversations and experience design will be “the new thing” for much of the 21st Century, as the old clings to cash cows and all of business history because it’s comfortable.

This wild ride is just getting started.