Ostrich heads and horses’s asses

Every so often, I hear stories of animals related to business behavior.

The ostrich.

Ostriches stick their head in the sand when they are scared. People often use the metaphor to describe managers who want to ignorantly avoid situational data and make decisions sight unseen.

The frog.

If you stick a frog in a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will acclimate to its surroundings and make no attempt to escape, eventually dying from the heat. Used by pundits to describe change management.

The horses.

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The width of the space shuttle's fuel tank was a design constraint which can be traced back to the days of the Roman Empire and effectively the width of two horses's behinds. Used to question standards and poke fun at bureaucrats.

The problem is, none of these stories are entirely accurate. Ostriches don't stick their heads in the sand. Frogs don't wait around to boil in a pot of water. Horses come in a lot of different sizes.

If you're in a position where you need to make social business initiatives successful, I'd recommend staying away from the animal metaphors and sticking to business theory and practice. Otherwise, you end up looking like a Rudyard Kipling spinning "Just So" stories about how business works.

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