It Always Comes Back to Baseball

In this blog series we have been examining the six abilities of wise leaders.  We know that wisdom can trickle down and change an organization from top to bottom, and greater wisdom can translate into better services for our clients as well as higher revenues.  This series has focused on how Japanese companies have built success by gaining and sharing wisdom.

The fourth ability of wise leaders is communicating in a way that everyone can understand.  We already know this to be true, but authors Nonaka and Takeuchi see the use of stories and metaphors as necessary tools to convey the essence of a situation.

A metaphor will allow understanding of a situation by envisioning another.  Tadashi Yanai a successful business leader and author of One Win, Nine Losses has a favorite metaphor – “In baseball, teams with a large number of stolen bases have a high number of attempted steals.  You can’t run if you’re thinking only about not being tagged.  The same could be said of management.”

A story is also a powerful way to communicate a shared vision and the creation process itself leads individuals to think through their goals and persuasively convey them.  At Canon, everyone must submit an annual business plan with a story.  The chairman, Fuijio Mitarai begins by writing his own story to illustrate how the numerical goals he has set can be accomplished.  “That’s how skills are cultivated and our people grow.  It forms the foundation of Canon’s strength.”

Finally, wise leaders will cultivate their narrative skills by reading across genres and listening to effective speeches such as “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Steve Jobs’ “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” Examine those works for technique, language usage, and structure.  Within the workplace; share your vision, stories, and metaphors with constant communication.  This models your commitment to communication that impacts your entire organization.




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