Tagged: Learning

Using Metaphors to teach the value of Reputation

The beauty about stories is that they are like metaphors. I once saw a study that said that metaphors appeal to both the left and the right side of the brain.

I am not a Buddhist, yet am extremely fond of Zen Koans.

The way I try and do it is to research before every group facilitation stories, anecdotes, metaphors and humor that I can have in the "wings" based on the diversity of the group.

That way I may have options available to "unlock the potential" of someone.

Just like a builder uses solid construction practices, we need to design or build our training based on proven ways how the brain works. We know a lot about adult learning principles and how the brain works. The "best practice" of using metaphors and analogies takes advantage of at least two key facts:

  • The brain works by building connections and associations.
  • The brain remembers more easily things that are novel or unusual.

The right analogy or metaphor can be quite novel, build connections to the material you are teaching and often create the "aha" experience the learners need to effectively learn the new information.

Let me use an example. If I am working with a group of executives about the organisation’s reputation, I will tell them that they have to be careful how they communicate, how they behave as it will impact on the way stakeholders perceive them. That is a linear and left brain approach.

But for some this story will have more impact.


A farmer slandered his neighbor. Realizing his mistake, he went to the preacher to ask for forgiveness. The preacher told him to take a bag of feathers and drop them in the centre of town. The farmer did as he was told . Then the preacher asked him to go and collect the feathers and put them back in the bag. The farmer tried but couldn’t as the feathers had all blown away. When he returned with the empty bag, the preacher said, "The same thing is true about your words. You dropped them rather easily but you cannot retrieve them, so be very careful in choosing your words."

Which one has more impact for you?

It depends on your style of learning and brain dominance preference.

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I am just sitting here!

Once there was a rabbit sitting in a field and sprucing himself up. He polished his nails, cleaned his whiskers and even put on some deodorant. An eagle, flying overhead, asked the rabbit what the occasion was. The rabbit replied that "tonight I have a date with the Lioness. The lion is out of town, and the Lioness has a crush on me".

A few minutes later, the Lion returned, his flight having been cancelled.

"What are you doing, Mr Rabbit", asked the lion as he passed by looking at the spiffy-looking rabbit.

Answered the rabbit, "N-n-nothing sir. I am just sitting here talking nonsense to myself".

That’s exactly what I am doing right now!

Right now, I am wondering if this is just the sign of the times. What do you do when at the last minute many people cancel to attend a Masterclass, that they wanted to attend, but now can’t due to operational requirements.

I guess operational requirements take preference over learning activities. So, what now?

I guess I will just sit here for a while. Little I can do, the matter is out of my hands.

I will have to reschedule with these delegates. Watch http://reputationdefence.invite43.com/ for the new date!

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Learn How to Think like an Activist


Many managers cringe when they hear the word activist. Because, activists as a stakeholder group can potentially damage an organisation’s reputation if relationships with them are not carefully built, understood and maintained.

I have always been intrigued how in movies, psychologists trying to track a serial murderer, try and become that person. They study that person’s motives, habits, appearance, background, etc. So, One of the best ways is to learn to be an activist yourself. By learning to become an activist, you will prepare yourself to handle potential reputational crises and campaigns against your organisation.

The Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town call this the immersion principle. Immerse yourself until you fully understand all there is to be an activist.

Trouble is that these days, activists are no longer a plural word. A single person today has tools at their disposal to start a one person crusade. Technologies such as Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have increased the potential power of an individual, and companies should prepare themselves for online campaigns and other means of mobilisation.

Here then is a link to a free online course called The Virtual Activist – http://www.netaction.org/training/v-training.html – The course needs updating, but if you are a Twitter user, Facebook or MySpace follower, then you will learn a lot from this course.

The Virtual Activist illustrate why the communications efforts of social activists, including nongovernmental organizations, are so successful. Activists provide their supporters with both information and strategic and tactical tools. The combination of information and tools empowers people to take action, including communications or PR activities.

To further equip yourself, I can recommend the following site which should bring you up to speed: http://mashable.com/category/how-to-web/ with the latest Social Media tools and approaches.

Reputation permeates everything a Company does

What is the purpose of Corporate Governance? Compliance? Enterprise Wide Risk Management? Corporate Responsibility? Positive Company Actions and Behaviours?

In the book, the 7 Habits of Highly Successful people http://bit.ly/2gOas, Stephen Covey writes that a person should always start with the end purpose in mind.

So what is the end purpose of the questions that I just asked?

The end purpose is to be well regarded in the mind of the stakeholder, so that we can do business and achieve our goals.

If an Investor regards us in a positive manner, they will invest in our company.

If employees regard as a preferred employer, they will want to work for us. And in a business to business relationship, people will want to do business with you.

Ralph Larsen CEO Johnson & Johnson said: “Reputations reflect behavior you exhibit day in and day out through a hundred small things. The way you manage your reputation is by always thinking and trying to do the right thing every day

So next time that you engage in your normal responsibilities as an employee, remember that the same principles applies to you. No matter the type or size of the task, always start it with the end purpose in mind.

The next time that you engage with a stakeholder, remember the end purpose.