Get Off the Bus, or be Thrown Under it


The problem with using metaphors to make sense of how the world works is that at some point they “tip” and become the accepted explanation of why the world works the way it does. We stop questioning the underlying premise.

Saying one thing to mean another has intended and unintended consequences.

In business parlance, we continue to focus so much on “getting on the bus” that we forget to pay attention to who's driving, the bus's speed and its direction, for example.

A bus also has limited capacity, hence the companion expression of “throwing under the bus.” This is the symptom of a buy strategy where people sign up to do someone else's bidding rather than thinking for themselves.

More consequences of the metaphor are:

  • The admission ticket as the intention to cash out as soon as possible with the least amount of effort.
  • Bus dispatchers who can't wait to get people (as in bodies) on the bus, because that's how they ship.
  • The people on the bus thus become someone else's product, complete with points and scores. Just like with horse racing. All the elbowing and labor gets you to the finish gate, except for you're still a horse.

There is no bus.

Business sails on the wind of trade. That means taking control of our promises, speaking clearly and acting appropriately to be able to make better promises as part of the results. It is the promises kept that create strength, resilience, and endurance for the business.



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