Metaphors of managers – they shape how general counsel think

If general counsel were to articulate their management philosophies, I suspect many would order up military metaphors. “I’ve got the troops, having succeeded in the war for talent. My chain of command will hold the line and we can charge into battle if we marshal our resources to attack and exploit the competitor’s patent weaknesses.”

Sports metaphors also have a field day. “We’ve got the team (and I am the quarterback, naturally) and we can out-play the other side if we stick to our playbook and don’t fumble. I know we took two quick strikes but we don’t need a Hail Mary pass, we can ace them on the next serve and eagle the class action certification!”

More gently, organic metaphors grow luxuriantly. “I have pruned and weeded this department and let my star lawyers flower. We have fertile soil here for knowledge management and best practices, so long as we keep planting and watering good ideas and keeping an eye on the forests, not the trees.”

My point: give some thought to your dominant metaphor, and consider whether it limits you in considering alternative solutions to your challenges.

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