Future Coping Strategies
Beyond the constraints of proprietary metaphors
- / -
Faced with the complexities and challenges of the times, much effort has
gone into the development of models and scenarios through which to comprehend
the future and to guide the navigation of policy-makers. Career advancements,
and even Nobel Prizes, are strongly linked to the formulation of a model
with competitive advantages over those generated by colleagues. This applies
to the academic arena, corporate consultancy, and in the worlds of governmental
and intergovernmental expertise.
The challenge of developing coping strategies is not confined to governments,
corporations or other collectivities, at whatever level of society. Strategic
thinking is common to both collectivities and individuals (Theobald, 1992).
The "ordinary person", in fact every individual of whatever social class,
tends to be attentive, whether consciously or unconsciously, to the development
of coping strategies. Authors, gurus, lecture circuits and talk shows do
much to purvey particular coping strategies. They are a subject of bar
and cocktail discussion. Many, like diets, have their moment of being in
fashion and then continue to appeal to smaller constituencies. Diets, namely
methods of coping with physical health, do in fact provide a useful metaphor
for understanding the sociology of coping strategies.
This article is not concerned with how any particular coping strategy
is advocated and used. Of greater interest is the emergence of a sense
that no single coping strategy can be relied upon under all circumstances.
From this perspective a person, or a corporate body, needs to be able to
draw upon a variety of such strategies -- switching between them as circumstances
demand. The difficulty is that this posture is effectively sensitive to
a higher level of complexity. Communicating and comprehending the set of
strategic options then becomes a significant challenge.
The tendency is to describe such strategies, whether individually or
as a set, in metaphoric terms. When described in this way, the conceptual
framework can be marketed as a proprietary product. Society is faced with
a situation in which access to insights on the best ways of coping, and
especially the means through which they are described and disseminated,
are increasingly restricted to those who are willing or able to pay. Coping
strategies are increasingly subject to copyright as intellectual property.
As growth opportunities are developed and consolidated in the tertiary
sector, such constraints on the use of coping strategies could prove increasingly
incapacitating for society.
This article follows from work on governance through metaphor (UIA,
1991) and on the identification of some 8,000 strategies employed by international
organizations (UIA, 1986)
Definition of coping
According to Erica Frydenberg and Ramon Lewis (1991a), the notion of "coping"
as developed by psychologists has acquired a variety of meanings which
are often used interchangeably with such concepts as mastery, defence and
adaptation. The working definition used in their study is that developed
by Richard Lazarus and colleagues:
"Coping consists of efforts, both action oriented and intra
psychic, to manage (i.e. master, tolerate, reduce, minimize) environmental
and internal demands and conflicts." (Lazarus and Launier, 1978, p. 311)
This builds on an earlier formulation of coping as:
"... the problem-solving efforts made by an individual when
the demands he faces are highly relevant to his welfare (that is a situation
of considerable jeopardy or promise), and when these demands tax his adaptive
resources." (Lazarus, Averill and Opton, 1974)
Frydenberg and Lewis point out that the first definition is comprehensive
in that it addresses the cognitive, affective and behavioural aspects of
the coping process. The definitions recognize both the stressful aspects
of emotion and the possibility of potential fulfillment or gratification.
They also recognize that the adaptive outcome is uncertain so that the
limits of the person's adaptive skills are approached.
Individual coping strategies
A measure of coping for adolescents, named the Adolescent Coping Checklist,
has been developed by Frydenberg and Lewis. This is effectively a modified
version of one developed for adults by Folkman and Lazarus (1985), also
on the basis of survey data, and named the Ways of Coping Checklist. The
revised version has 66 items, each with a four-point Likert scale response
format. It is a measure of a process during a problem- and emotion-focused
encounter. Frydenberg and Lewis stress that no strategy is considered as
inherently better or worse than any other.
The 66 original items were developed to 80 and subjected to 5- and 9-factor
groupings by Frydenberg and Lewis (1990, 1991b) leading subsequently (1991c)
to the production of 18 scales of adolescent coping:
Enlist social support for management of the problem
Focus on solving the problem by learning systematically about it
Hard work and achievement of ambitions
Worry about the future and its personal implications
Invest in intimate relationships and close friends
Seek and improve relationships with others (with sensitivity to their opinion)
Wishful thinking, hoping for positive outcomes
Not coping with the problem (including development of psychosomatic symptoms)
Tension reduction through various forms of release
Stimulating and organizing collective social action
Consciously ignoring the problem, accepting that there is no way of dealing
Self-blame, accepting responsibility for the problem
Withdrawal from others, ensuring they are unaware of the problem
Reliance on spiritual support, including prayer and spiritual advice
Focus on the positive
Seek professional help
Seek relaxing diversions and cultivate leisure activities
Physical recreation and sport.
On the basis of a further factor analysis (1991c), the author's identify
three styles of coping that group the above:
Removal of the problem through personal endeavour with a minimal use of
Use of others as a resource (and support), usually within a problem-focused
Use of a range of emotion-focused strategies associated with a feeling
of not coping (although it permits accomodation to the problem).
The authors conclude: "Thus it would appear that coping can be best conceptualised
not by referring to problem-focused and emotion-focused components (palliative
and instrumental) but rather in terms of a focus on dealing with the problem,
reference to others and non-productive coping. Each of these in turn warrants
detailed examination, as they clearly represent both functional (effective)
and dysfunctional (non-productive) coping responses." (1991c).
Using the 18 scales, the authors are able to produce profiles of coping
for individuals giving rise to the notion of a "coping repertoire". It
remains to be determined exactly what mix of strategies constitutes a healthy,
as opposed to an unhealthy, repertoire. As some of the gender- based differences
in profiles appear to suggest, it may prove simplistic to stigmatize certain
non-problem-oriented strategies as inappropriate in any healthy repertoire
Coping strategies of personality types
Much effort in vocational guidance and human resource development is concerned
with determining the kinds of coping skills which people have in order
better to match them to a career. In this sense, particular coping strategies
and preferences may be assumed to be natural to particular personality
types. Conversely, personality types my be usefully defined by the preferred
copy strategy profile. The skills may of course be over- or underdeveloped.
Some examples from this perspective are:
1. Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI): This method developed
by Ned Herrmann in 1977 is based on Roger Sperry's left-brain/right-brain
model and Paul MacLean's triune brain model. The HBDI survey can define,
identify, and statistically measure preferences and distinctions in the
major thinking styles attributed to the four quadrants of the two top brains:
the limbic system and the neocortex. It gives rise to profiles with respect
to the following:
Upper left: Logical, analyzer, mathematical, technical, problem
Lower left: Controlled, conservative, planner, organizational, administrative.
Lower right: Interpersonal, emotional, musical, spiritual, talker.
Upper right: Imaginative, synthesizer, artisitic, holistic, conceptualizer.
The resulting profile is presented on a graph based on concentric circles
divided into quadrants. Different occupations are associated with standard
profiles. The methodology is used to develop creativity in corporate environments
2. Frames of mind: Harvard educator Howard Gardner has identified
seven recognizable and different ways of processing information which he
calls multiple intelligences. They are:
Linguistic intelligence: Ability to use language, auditory skills.
Logico-mathematical intelligence: Ability to think logically, sequentially,
Spatial intelligence: Ability to visualize and manipulate images
Musical intelligence: Ability to hear, appreciate, and play music.
Bodily kinesthetic intelligence: Physical ability, namely athletic
or fine-motor coordination.
Interpersonal intelligence: Ability to relate successfully to people.
Intrapersonal intelligence: Ability to be self- motivated or inner-directed.
Gardner stresses that different forms of intelligence may be more readily
accepted in different cultures. This is presumably also the case for sub-cultures
within any culture.
3. Work-related values: Geert Hofstede (1980), on the basis of
extensive surveys within a large multinational corporation, explored differences
in thinking and social action that exist between members of 40 different
modern nations. He isolated four main dimensions on which country cultures
differ with respect to work-related values:
4. Systems of adaptability:
Power distance: Acceptance of human inequality, especially in hierarchical
Uncertainty avoidance: Tolerance for uncertainty in the face of
choices and rules.
Individualism: Relationship between the individual and the collectivity
which prevails in a given society.
Masculinity: Extent to which biological differences between the
sexes have implications for social activities.
An extensive survey of epistemological
data has been grouped by J O Harvey (1966) into four "systems".
System I: High absolutism, closedness of beliefs, high evaluativeness,
high positive depedence on representatives of institutional authority,
high idenitifcation with social roles and status position, high conventionality,
System II: Deep feelings of uncertainty, distrust of authority,
rehjection of socially approved guidelines to action accompanied by lack
of alternative referents, psychological vacuum, rebellion against social
presecriptions, avoidance of dependency on God and tradition.
System III: Manipulation of people through dependency upon them,
fairly high skills in effecting desired outcomes in the world through the
techniques of having others do it, some autonomous internal standards especially
in social sphere, some positive ties to the prevailing social norms.
System IV: High perceived self-worth despite momentary frustrations
and deviation from the normative, highly differentiated and integrated
cognitive structure, flexible, creative and relative in thought and action,
internal standards that are independent of external criteria, in some cases
coinciding with social definitions and in other cases not.
These epistemological systems have been compared by Magoroh Maruyama with
his four epistemological mindscapes (1978). The two authors agree on three
types and differ on the nature of the fourth.
5. Axes of bias: Philosopher W T Jones has explored the axes
of bias which pre-determine the pattern of debates, especially those through
which academics "cope" with controversial issues. He identified the following
axes on which discussants can be profiled and which govern their interventions:
6. Myers-Briggs personality types:
Order vs Disorder: Preference for fluidity, muddle, chaos versus
preference for system, structure, conceptual clarity.
Static vs Dynamic: Preference for stasis versus preference for movement,
for explanation in genetic and process terms.
Continuity vs Discreteness: Preference for wholeness, unity versus
preference for discreteness, plurality, diversity.
Inner vs Outer: Preference for being able to project oneself into
the objects of one's experience (to experience them as one experiences
oneself) versus a preference for a relatively external, objective relation
Sharp focus vs Soft focus: Prefrence for clear direct experience
versus a preference for threshold experiences which are felt to be saturated
with more meaning than is immediately present.
This world vs Other world: Preference for belief in the spatio-temporal
world as self-explanatory versus preference for belief that it is not self-explanatory
(and can only be comprehended uin the light of other factors and frames
Spontaneity vs Process: Preference for chance, freedom, accident
versus preference for explanations subject to laws and definable processes.
Strongly influenced by Jung's
theory of types, the classification of types developed by Katherine Briggs
and Isabel Myers is now known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1981).
It is currently promoted by the Association of Psychological Type and disseminated
in popular versions (Kroeger and Thuesen, 1988). It distinguishes 16 personality
types based on the 16 combinations of the four pairs of Jungian types:
Extraverted or Introverted (E or I)
Sensing or Intuitive (S or N)
Thinking or Feeling (T or F)
Judging or Perceiving (J or P)
According to Jungian theory, people are born with genetic predispositions
towards a selection of these alternatives which are subsequently influenced
by environment, especially in childhood. Each type may be considered to
have a certain preferred mode of coping with the environment. For example
the coping of an "ISTJ" type can be caricatured by the phrase "does what
should be done".
7. Eidetics This system of organizational development and motivational
research has been articulated by Henry Evering in the light of medical,
psychological and living systems research. Systems geometric models are
used to guide the application of the methodology (Evering et al., 1990).
Organizations use eidetics information to increase their marketplace momentum
by attuning collective motivations throughout the organization. Information
exchange is seen as a key variable of organizational growth. Satisfying
emotional, perceptual and other psychological needs are often as important
as rational needs in achieving this goal. Evering uses the 8 surfaces (colour-coded)
of an octahedron to portray the integration of human motivations in 3-D,
and to relate these to strategic core essentials, to corporate culture
and to the corresponding marketing mixes
Corporate coping "recipes"
It may be argued that the social sciences have generated many sets equivalent
to those given above as examples. Indeed it is almost an obligation of
any self-respecting social scientist to make their professional mark in
this way. The corporate world acknowledges such initiatives with diffidence,
if at all. Aspiring consultants have far greater impact (if only in terms
of book sales to aspiring managers) if they can wrap their insights in
metaphoric terms -- and preferably in even more intriguingly comprehensible
metaphoric terms than their predecessors.
Thus the reviewer of a successful management text, Strategy of the
Dolphin, by Dudley Lynch and Paul Kordis (1988) comments: "A welcome
respite from other management books that urge us to think like samurais,
Attila the Hun or members of the Prussian General Staff...A blend of the
latest findings in psychology, physics, sociology and business strategy"
(Executive Challenge). The book contrasts the subtleties of thinking/acting
like a dolphin with that of carps (prey) and of sharks (predators).
There is a classical Japanese text on the art of swordsmanship by Miyamoto
Musashi (ca 1600) entitled The Book of Five Rings. A recent English translation,
bearing the subtitle The Real Art of Japanese Management (1982), claims
that the book is required reading in all Japanese management schools. It
makes very extensive use of metaphor to develop understanding of subtle
strategies for coping with an opponent under different conditions. The
strategy metaphors are in five clusters: earth, water, fire, wind, and
void. In a recent compilation from Chinese thought, 36 "strategems" are
identified through which to deal with political, business or human relationships
(Gao Yuan, 1991). All are expressed through metaphors such as "Cross the
sea by fooling the sky". In both cases the metaphors used contrast with
the simplistic military, ball game, and sexual metaphors most frequently
used in Western management dialogue concerning strategic threats and opportunities.
An interesting effort to describe different philosophies of management
and organization through a set of mythical Greek gods has been made by
Charles Handy (1979), himself a professor of management. He distinguishes
between management strategies in terms of: Zeus (club culture), Apollo
(role culture), Athena (task culture), Dionysus (existential culture).
Of special interest is his description of the limitations of each approach.
A related approach has been made by Gareth Morgan who uses appropriate
metaphors to describe eight images of organization (1986, 1988), each with
its particular repertoire of coping strategies.
Many attempts have been made to characterize, if not caricature, coping
behaviours of members of organizations using sets of metaphors. These include
Michael Maccoby's: jungle fighter, company man, gamesman, and craftsman
(1978); and Harold Morowitz's ego niches involving 14 animals (1977).
Popular and traditional coping strategies
Not to be forgotten in any survey of coping strategies, is the use made
of various systems of great richness in which a strong element of intuitive
interpretation is required using metaphor asa catalyst. Such recourse by
ordinary individuals is much deplored, especially by those with a "scientific"
orientation. The use of such techniques by policy-makers is not well-documented,
although there is much anecdotal evidence of its use in Asian countries
at the highest levels. It should be noted that the climate of Western opinion
with regard to intuition in individual and collective decision making is
now changing (Nadel et al., 1990). The notion of entrepreneurial intuition
has now come out of the closet (Evans and Russell, 1992). For example,
Stanford University's School of Business explores uses of intuition as
part of its Creativity in Business course. Sonia Stairs has argued the
case for greater use of intuition in public decision-making (Stairs, 1988).
Key examples are:
1. Astrology: Historically this is one of the oldest, and most
universal, guides to coping with an apparently unpredictable future. There
is currently much anecdotal evidence of the use of astrology in management
situations, even in the West. Some astrologers even advertise their special
skills in this respect. It was the media publicity concerning the influence
of astrology on Ronald Regan's decision-making (via his wife Nancy), and
despite his fundamentalist leanings, which high-lighted its role even in
a technocratic society replete with advisors of the highest repute. It
could be argued that for the client, astrology not only takes account of
the characteristic coping skills associated with a particularly detailed
personality profile, but also clarifies how which of those skills can best
be deployed in response to a particular configuration of circumstances.
It is also perceived as especially adapted to concern with business cycles
and timing (Langham, 1979).
2. I Ching: Otherwise known as The Book of Changes, this classic
text has been a major influence on Chinese thinking for over 3000 years.
As noted by R G H Siu (1974): "For centuries, the I Ching has served as
a practical guide in China on how to govern a country, organize an enterprise,
deal with people, conduct oneself under difficult conditions and contemplate
the future. It has been studied carefully by philosophers, like Confucius,
and men of the world, like Mao Tse-Tung". It has been adapted to business
and decision-making in the West (Guy Damian-Knight, 1986). The Federal
Reserve Bank of America, in its exploration of intuitive forecasting models,
published a research paper on the use of the I Ching (Schulz and Cunningham,
1988). It has been experimentally adapted to apply to networking (UIA,
1986) and to sustainable policy cycles (UIA, 1991).
3. Tarot: Like astrology, the tarot continues to be used as a
guide to the identification of appropriate coping strategies (Jayanti,
1988). It is one of the favoured tools of certain high-priced consultants
on business decisions. It has been perceived as the Western cultural equivalent
of the I Ching. One of its intriguing features is the number of aesthetically
distinct versions now produced.
4. Enneagram: This traditional symbolic device from Central Asia
provides a map with which nine basic personality types, or coping strategies,
may be associated and interrelated -- both in terms of their strengths
and weaknesses (Riso, 1990). It is claimed to be especially helpful in
understanding developmental pathways and patterns of human activity and
projects. It is used to determine whether developmental processes are sustainable,
or what is required to make them so. Interestingly, and despite its Sufi
origins, the leaders of Catholic spiritual retreats are the authors of
one of the standard texts (Beesing, et al, 1984)
Esoteric and "secret" coping strategies
1. Secret societies:
It could be argued that an important reason
for maintaining the secrecy of the many secret societies in different cultures
is to ensure the secrecy of their strategies for coping with, and manipulating,
their environment. It would be extremely naive to accept that the strategies
of major international groups, like the freemasons or their traditional
opponents, are limited to discreet forms of charitable action as is often
publicly declared. It might be further argued that the many levels of "initiation"
of such groups are each associated with coping strategies of a different
order of subtlety and sophistication. Comprehension of the subtler strategic
repertoires would then be dependent upon demonstrable competence in those
at the earlier levels. In terms of the metaphoric emphasis to this article,
it is interesting that these different levels of comprehension are associated
with sets of symbols or insignia. Advancement within freemasonry, for example,
has been described in terms of a "symbolic journey" (Berteaux, 1978).
2. Magic: It would be a mistake to ignore the continuing importance
of magic as offering a traditional repertoire of coping strategies, especially
in the event of the collapse of "civilized" structures. Many texts attest
to the increasing importance of magic, even in the most civilized technocratic
societies. Its association with the recovery of a more grounded understanding
of the role of women (Jade, 1991), or of indigenous cultures (O'Keefe,
1982), are well-known examples. The increasing incidence of ritual abuse
and "black magic" is another. The importance of "white magic" to New Age
communities is yet another. Magic is claimed to be a set of methods for
arranging awareness according to patterns, controlling and developing the
imagination so as to cause changes in the environment. Very extensive use
is made of metaphor. Appropriately used these methods then lead to transformation.
It is this transformation which is considered of value, not the methods
themselves (R J Stewart, 1987).
3. Confidential management know-how: Strategic repertoires and
packages are part of the service offered by the major management consultancy
groups. Access to such information, and its reproduction, is severely restricted
to clients paying large fees. Their key strategic insights (on the "4 S's",
the 5 Q's", etc) tend to be summarized in well-crafted diagrams which are
individually copyrighted. Ironically such consultants are often expected
to perform "magic". Furthermore, because of the menemonic constraints on
the structure of such diagrams, they tend to bear a remarkable resemblance
to some of the symmetric symbols produced by secret societies or in "secret"
books of magic (cf. Gettings, 1981).
Communicating coping strategies for collective decision-making
The deliberate use of metaphor to communicate coping strategies is well
illustrated by Edward de Bono through two books: Six Thinking Hats (1987)
and Six Action Shoes (1991). These books deal with what he has called "operacy".
This is the skill of action, of getting things done and making things happen
-- which he equates with literacy and numeracy. They build on a well-publicized
series of his earlier books dealing with creative approaches to problem-solving,
notably in corporate policy-making environments.
According to de Bono (1991), the metaphoric framework of six thinking
hats has been adopted by many major corporations around the world. It is
also used increasingly in education. As de Bono points out: "The six hat
method has been widely accepted because it is simple, it is practical,
and it works. It actually changes how thinking takes place in meetings
and elsewhere: instead of the usual to and fro arguments it makes it possible
for people to have constructive discussions." (1991, p. 4). The six pairs
of action shoes develop the action dimension of the thinking associated
with the six hats.
The method in both cases is simple. Using the hat metaphor, in a meeting
there is an imaginary repertoire of six thinking strategies associated
with six hats of different colours. A discussant may choose to put on one
of the hats, or be challenged to take off a hat of a particular colour.
Alternatively all participants may agree to make use of a hat of a particular
colour to clarify a particular dimension response to the issue under discussion.
De Bono's hats involve participants in a discussion in a type of mental
White hat: An objective look at data and information.
Red hat: Legitimizes feelings, hunches, and intuition.
Black hat: Logical negative, judgement, and caution.
Yellow hat: Logical positive, feasibility, and benefits.
Green hat: New ideas and creative thinking.
Blue hat: Control of the thinking process. (1987)
The great advantage of this approach is that it allows participants to
shift smoothly between quite different approaches. These are perceived
as complementing each other so that collaborative exploration, rather than
individualistic point-scoring, becomes the prevailing mode. At the same
time the metaphor makes it appropriate to challenge discussion which is
locked unfruitfully into a particular mode. No mode is sacrosanct. Each
may prove appropriate (functional) or inappropriate (dysfunctional) according
to the flow of discussion.
Many efforts at team building are based on the identification of individuals
with particular skills (eg as the "black hat" thinker) for the group (Belbin).
By contrast, and somewhat optimistically, de Bono assumes that "everyone
should be able to put on or take off any one of the hats at a moment's
notice. The six modes were not six different categories or types of people."
Inspired by the success of the hat metaphor as a framework for thinking
in a group, de Bono perceived an equal need for a framework for action.
"Situations require diffrent styles of action. The delicate action needed
to paint an eggshell is different from the action needed in a boxing match."
(1991, p. 13). Furthermore, in considering how to train the "perfect person"
it would be simpler to train six people, "each of whom would be perfect
for just one type of situation....Of course, these six people would all
live under one skin....The need for perfectly appropriate action suggested
a need for breaking down action into six different styles, each of which
could be developed." (1991, pp. 13- 14).
The six pairs of shoes are as follows:
Navy formal shoes: Routine and formal procedures.
Grey sneakers: Exploration, investigation, and collection of evidence.
Brown brogues: Practicality and pragmatism.
Orange gumboots: Emergency action, with prime concern for safety.
Pink slippers: Care, compassion, and attention to human feelings and sensitivities.
Purple riding boots: Action by virtue of position or authority. (1991)
De Bono argues that action situations are rarely as simple as thinking
situations and that there is often a need to do two things at a time. He
therefore plays on the possibility of "wearing shoes of different colours"
to denote a combination of forms of response to a situation.
Critical importance of metaphor for strategy communication
As de Bono illustrates, for the above insights to be of significance to
a wider audience, there is a need to capture understanding of each strategy
in an appropriate image -- to bypass the often alienating impact of psychological
and other jargons. Some of the earlier examples make extensive use of metaphor.
This imagery then makes any repertoire or menu of coping strategies meaningful
to individuals (or groups) who may prove interested in "improving" their
own coping profile. Labelling strategies with technical terms does not
engender enthusiasm for change -- it does not capture the imagination or
initiate a dynamic.
Those coping strategies identified, using academic language alone, have
least chance of becoming of wider significance to those who might employ
them. Those disseminated most rapidly use visual imagery through which
the individual or group can "take on" the strategy more readily. In dealing
with complexity, strategic skills may be rapidly grasped through a powerful
metaphor which augments capacity to grasp the dynamics and opportunities
of a situation. As clarified by George Lakoff (1987) and colleagues, metaphors
are unique in offering cognitive leverage where models are dangerously
simplistic (Schon, 1979; Judge, 1992).
Ideally what is required is a visual metaphor which can take understandably
"healthy" or "unhealthy" forms. The challenge for the individual then becomes
to reframe coping behaviours through the set of healthy forms (Bandler,
et al, 1982; Gordon, 1976). At the same time there is a need to develop
the lifestyle art of consciously caring for the "ecology" of active metaphors
in the coping repertoire. A healthy balance may be of greater value than
maximizing the health of particular coping behaviours. Furthermore, to
enhance both overall strategic integrity and the ability to manoeuvre,
there is value in giving metaphoric expression to the ecology of possible
coping strategies as a whole.
De Bono has taken a further step in this direction by producing an Atlas
of Management Thinking (1981). He argues that verbal description of complex
management situations are necessarily lodged in the left side of the brain
(logical thinking, etc). In order to be able to take advantage of the right
side of the brain (intuition, etc) a repertoire of non-verbal images is
required. His atlas provides 200 images to enrich the perceptual map of
the executive, enabling him to recognize situations in a flash instead
of having to build them up piecemeal.
Each of the examples offers strong points whilst at the same time ignoring
strategic strengths implicit in others. But in terms of how to use metaphors
in collective discourse to shift between strategies, it is de Bono who
is perhaps the most explicitly helpful in giving a feel for the process.
Most of the others are locked into the limitations of categorizing and
fail to address the challenge of changing how thinking or action actually
takes place -- namely how to "get into" a possibly unfamiliar coping strategy
and how to avoid being inappropriately trapped therein. In the more traditional
systems, for example, this difficulty is deliberate, because stress is
placed on word of mouth communication to ensure a shift in insight. As
always, experts survive by creating dependence.
Irrespective of the merit of any repertoire of strategies, it is those
which are widely disseminated which will tend to be most widely used. Given
the way that the delivery system works in the emerging information society,
it is those sets of strategies which are taken up by media (and paperback
sales) that have the greatest diffusion. The media are hypersensitive to
whatever is liable to capture the imagination of audiences, thus bypassing
much that is produced in an academic mode.
Emergence of proprietary metaphors
In purer academic work in the older tradition, although a text as a whole
may be copyrighted, this is not the case with the concepts, formula and
theories it contains. In current practice (especially in North America),
both the text and its individual diagrams may be copyrighted, as is the
practice with studies and materials generated by management consultants.
Names of conceptual frameworks may be trademarked, as in the case of the
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. In the case of eidetics, both the term and
the 6 visual models presenting its essential features are copyrighted.
This feature is notable in the top management journals.
Even in an article of this kind, and despite judicious paraphrasing,
it is a pertinent question as to what can be communicated about particular
coping strategies without infringing copyright. Reproduction of any diagram
illustrating the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument discussed above, would
clearly constitute an infringement. It is probable that little more could
be said on de Bono's hats and shoes without moving beyond the realm of
legitimate comment as a "reviewer". Strict interpretation of the standard
clause "No part of this publication may be reproduced...without the prior
permission of the publishers" precludes even any listing of the coping
strategies he identifies. Basically, if someone wants to know about the
hats and shoes, and how to make use of them, the books must be purchased
at whatever price the publisher sets. More than that, an addendum indicates
that to become "a certified licensed trainer based on Dr. de Bono's Six
Thinking Hats and Six Action Shoes concept", one is required to write to
the International Center for Creative Thinking. To what extent is one free
to present his approach in a training session without having been licensed
to do so? (Bandler and Grinder, 1982)
The future development of the tertiary sector must necessarily focus
on the opportunities of intellectual and cultural property. Copyright has
been a major issue in the world of computer software. The development of
new "metaphors" is explicitly recognized as a key to software development.
Major legal proceedings in the USA continue around software based on the
windows metaphor and first marketed by Apple. The legal case now turns
on the "look-and-feel" of the software interface. Xerox is now marketing
software based on a rooms metaphor. Copyrighting software in the future
may well focus specifically on the design metaphor and its isomorphs, since
coding and functionality have proved so difficult to protect. These issues
will become especially problematic with virtual reality software (now coming
on the market) given the many ways it will use visual imagery and expand
the possibilities of visual metaphors.
Reference should also be made to the skills of certain consultants in
organizational development. Whether or not these are reflected in any package
of copyrighted text and diagrams, bodies who could benefit from these skills
are deprived of them because of the high cost of such consultancy. Access
to such insights is reserved exclusively for those who can afford them.
They and their consultants thus effectively share in the evolution of proprietary
Another variant on the problem is that resulting from the "classification"
of documents in the interests of national security or to secure some advantage
over potential competitors. American fusion scientists have, for example,
long been placed at a disadvantage because most of their work has been
classified. In comparison, their colleagues elsewhere have been free to
publish. In 1992, continuing such secrecy was recognized as stifling the
exchange of ideas, inhibiting progress and limiting international cooperation
(International Herald Tribune, 29 September 1992).
In the case of religions, "proprietary" may be understood in a different
sense. Religions are steeped in metaphor (Van Noppen, 1983). Such metaphoric
frameworks tend to specify particular coping strategies. The proprietary
hold becomes clear when each makes mutually exclusive claims to be able
to articulate an appropriate understanding of man's relationship to his
spatio-temporal environment. Because of the subtlety of spiritual insights,
such claims often have to articulated through specific metaphors, honed
and valued by the religious culture in question. Particular metaphors are
the jealously guarded property of particular religions. The cross is effectively
trademarked by Christianity. Attachment to particular metaphors may then
prevent spiritual development (McFague, 1983) or any effective dialogue
between faiths. This continues to lead to violence on a large scale.
Another striking example of what amounts to proprietary metaphors is
that dedicated from a radical feminist perspective on male-dominated language.
Much of contemporary discourse can be presented as dominated by implicit
gender- biased metaphors selected by males. The implications for coping
strategies, planning and decision-making have been identified by Janis
The process whereby certain professions are officially recognized, highlights
another approach to proprietary metaphors. In the case of professions (eg
medicine, architecture, etc) with statutory functions recognized by law,
some uses of language may come under the control of those professions.
This then precludes other interpretations, as might be the case with healing
professions not accepted by the medical establishment.
But perhaps the most insidious example of proprietary metaphors is that
relating to cultural or linguistic imperialism, of which the most obvious
is the North-South situation, with its many micro-reflections amongst the
marginalized in industrialized countries. Many have noted the insensitivity
with which English-speakers within the international community readily
assume that their are no significant language or cultural problems associated
with the use of English. Others have noted the vicious consequences of
Euro- centric thinking. In both cases, part of the issue is the range of
metaphors which then dominate (often as part of the idiom), excluding the
metaphors natural to other languages and cultures. This then conditions
cognitive response to the environment in the light of the culture of industrialized
Confronting coping repertories
One of the tantalizing aspects of any comparison between different understandings
of coping strategy repertoires, is the extent to which they map into each
other. It is not difficult to identify corporate beaviours corresponding
to those in Frydenberg's checklist. Whether developed for individuals or
for organizations, some strategies are more or less common to two or more
frameworks. Some emphasize unique features totally ignored by others. Few
are sensitive to the existence of other, perhaps complementary, approaches
to the development of coping strategies. It would be foolish to rely exclusively
on any one repertoire at this time.
In this light, the scope of de Bono's repertoire might be usefully challenged
by confrontation with strategies highlighting the importance of the affective
dimension as stressed by the Frydenberg coping checklist. Perhaps he should
produce a book on Six Emotional Cloaks to complement the thinking hats
and the action shoes. In each of his cases, to what extent do the developmental
issues around the six different people "all living under one skin" relate
to those of identifying and integrating the "subpersonalities" that are
a prime concern of psychoanalysis and psychosythesis (Rowan, 1990)? Frydendberg's
18 strategies could then usefully be compared with de Bono's three groups
Are there no useful relationships to be found between the Frydenberg
coping checklist and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? Can the Hermann Brain
Dominance system not be seen as a two-dimensional projection of Myers-Briggs?
Would all three not become of wider significance if their categories could
be captured in a visual image to excite the imagination? There is a lesson
to be learnt from the fact that many people, whether of western or eastern
cultures, know their astrological "sign".
In his stress on shifting between strategies, de Bono points to the
weakness of the straitjacket of personality typing. A richer perspective
would focus on the repertoire of personality or coping modes which an individual
could taken on under different circumstances. In the Myers-Briggs case,
for example, the probability of each of the 16 coping modes being used
would then be defined by a probability function that characterizes an individual
or strategic dynamic. This recognizes that all modes are accessible to
the individual (or organization), but not equally. Enneagram studies are
helpful in explicitly recognizing flexible access to all modes as a developmental
goal (Riso, 1990). Individual or corporate identity is tehn associated
with an integrative image of such a constrained dance between coping modes.
It is only the richer metaphors, like dance, that can facilitate comprehension
of that strategic posture.
Constraints on strategic integration in the future
In such a context, an ambitious consultant would do best to develop his
or her own metaphor-coded package in ways that ignore the work of predecessors.
Each thus endeavours to create the impression of an adequate strategic
repertoire. But the emergence of an appropriately ordered repertoire, relevant
to both individual and collective coping (especially at the global level),
is completely undermined by the proprietary concerns of those best placed
to ensure its comprehension.
In this transition period, a policy-maker feels relatively free to formulate
coping proposals whether in speech or on paper. The vast quantity generated
annually in this way has become quite indigestible (Marien, 1990). With
the increasing need for imagery to ensure comprehensibility by overloaded
audiences, the issue becomes what images? It is even possible to envisage
an alternative meeting design in which factional leaders would dialogue
only through images. Participants would use support staff to locate appropriate
images (from a prepared image data base) to enlighten, confound or seduce
their adversaries -- pacing the meeting somewhat as in a chess tournament,
with considerable time for reflection between "moves". The conceptually
sharpest images relevant to such a dialogue are those carefully pre- crafted
by cartoonists, especially political cartoonists. Such cartoons are of
course copyrighted -- as are the best photographs and videoclips. Expressed
through the resultant configuration of images, the "proceedings" and conclusion
of any such meeting would therefore raise major copyright problems.
The problem of the transfer of patented technology from the North to
those who need it in the South was a major issue during the recent UN Conference
on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992). Certain technologies
are needed by poorer countries to improve their environmental and development
strategies. The issue for the future is when does the dissemination of
copyrighted coping know-how become restricted in an analogous manner --
inhibiting collective ability to respond to the crises of the times. The
question is whether copyright will evolve to the point that strategic wisdom
can effectively be copyrighted? Even now, certain valued aphorisms are
technically subject to copyright, as inspection of any published collection
will show. In the case of technology, governments have responded to this
dilemma by invoking "national security" clauses. The case for a "global
security" clause with respect to intellectual property remains to be articulated.
This line of thinking evokes the spectre of the world being held to
ransom by some strategic genius capable of copyrighting his or her insights
-- if only in terms of the set of metaphors through which they are most
adequately expressed. Could a strategic Einstein copyright a "special theory
of strategic coping"? Have the handful of major multinational management
consultancy groups, capable of ensuring exclusive access to such genius,
already developed an effective stranglehold on strategic coping know-how?
Coping repertoires in the the public domain may effectively be second-rate.
Where comprehension and the ability to empower initiatives are the key
to coping, such genius may to a large extent lie in the choice of an appropriate
metaphor (as advertisers so frequently demonstrate). De Bono, whatever
the inadequacies of his approach, has moved some way down this track. His
CoRT Thinking Programme (of which the hats and shoes are modules) is arguably
the best available package, as demonstrated by its world-wide success in
educational systems. UNESCO, currently seeking insights into education
for the 21st century, is as yet unable to recommend a package of equivalent
sophistication. What are the options if de Bono's price is unacceptable?
Clearly such consultant fantasies are unlikely to be fulfilled because
institutions are obliged for political reasons to reject any form of "metaphoric
imperialism" -- whatever the longer-term costs in strategic ineptness.
Transcending constraints of proprietary metaphors
It is possible that the copyright issue could be avoided by repackaging
any strategic metaphor like de Bono's in terms of other metaphors -- six
thinking spectacles, for example, or six action signature tunes. Possibly
one could switch to a differently numbered repertoire, with say 9 or 15
strategies, and reallocate the colours. The probable evolution of copyright
in the light of the computer software issue suggests that such obvious
loopholes will be quickly plugged. Conceptual isomorphs, whether or not
they are labelled as "metaphors", will become subject to copyright as economic
growth is forced to focus on the opportunities of the tertiary sector.
It is possible that all the good metaphors will be copyrighted by those
with vested interests -- just as many of the words of good symbolic value
have been trademarked. Such activity might even define a "quaternary" economic
The possibility of such constraints on the formulation and integration
of coping strategies, whether for the individual or at the global level,
raises a key question. Is the issue the dissemination of strategic repertories,
or rather is it empowering the generation of strategic repertoires? De
Bono is selling a single repertoire packaged in a metaphor. As with IBM,
he is endeavouring to capture a market -- effectively disempowering higher
order creativity, creating dependence and "locking" customers into a particular
approach. He is not selling the capacity to generate such a package (the
last module of which he chose to emphasize was written on a plane journey
between London and Auckland). And the need is precisely to empower people
and groups to generate such repertoires. This would enable them to act
through their own insights according to those metaphors that they identify
as enhancing their flexibility in coping with their environment, especially
within their own sub-cultures.
Transcending metaphoric constraints means acquiring the ability to shift
or dance between metaphors that offer integrative strategic insights. It
is a case of being able to swing through metaphoric trees, rather than
being confined to the epistemological branches of one of them. Expressed
differently, although some consultants offer a strategic regime or diet,
de Bono offers a menu for his restaurant. But the issue for individuals
(or organizations) is to be empowered to design and cook whatever meal
corresponds to their needs and opportunities -- whether it is on a particular
menu or not.
Richard Bandler and John Grinder. Reframing; neurolinguistic programming
and the transformation of meaning. Moab UT, Real People Press, 1982.
Maria Beesing, R J Nogosek and P H O'Leary. The Enneagram;
a journey of self discovery. Denville NJ, Dimension Books, 1984.
R Meredith Belbin. Management Teams; why they succeed or fail.
Raoul Berteaux. La Voie Symbolique. Paris, Lauzeray International, 1978
Janis Birkeland. An ecofeminist critique of manstream planning. Trumpeter,
8, 2, Spring 1991, pp. 72-84 (summarizing arguments in a University of Tasmania
Guy Damian-Knight. The I Ching on Business and Decision Making; a corporate,
economic and political policy-making manual. Rider, 1986.
Edward de Bono:
- Atlas of Management Thinking. Penguin, 1981.
- Six Thinking Hats. Penguin, 1987
- Six Action Shoes. Fontana, 1991.
Roger Evans and Peter Russell. The Creative Manager: Finding Inner
Vision and Wisdom in Uncertain Times. Jossey-Bass, 1992
Henry Evering, et al. Eidetic organizational development: image, motivations
and systems research. Canadian Journal of Marketing Research. 9, 1990,
Erica Frydenberg and Ramon Lewis. How adolescents cope with different
concerns: the development of the Adolescent Coping Checklist (ACC). Psychological
Test Bulletin, 3, November 1990, 2, pp. 63-73
Erica Frydenberg and Ramon Lewis. Adolescent coping: the different ways
in which boys and girls cope. Journal of Adolescence, 1991, 14, pp. 119-133
Erica Frydenberg and Ramon Lewis. Adolescent coping in the Australian
context. Australian Educational Researcher, 18, August 1991, 2, pp. 65-82
Erica Frydenberg and Ramon Lewis. Adolescent coping styles and strategies:
is there functional and dysfunctional coping? Australian Journal of Guidance
and Counselling, 1, November 1991c, 1, pp. 1-8
S Folkman and Richard S Lazarus. If it changes it must be a process: a study
of emotion and coping during three stages of a college examination. Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 1985, 48, pp. 150-170
Howard Gardner. Frames of Mind: the theory of multiple intelligences.
Basic Books, 1983.
Fred Gettings. Dictionary of Occult, Hermetic and Alchemical Sigils. Viking
David Gordon. Therapeutic Metaphors; helping others through the looking
glass. Cupertino CA, Meta Publications, 1976.
Charles Handy. The Gods of Management: who they are, how they work,
and why they fail. Pan, 1979
J O Harvey. Experience, Structure and Adaptability. Springer,
Ned Herrmann. The Creative Brain. Lake Lure NC, Brain Books, 1988
Geert Hofstede. Cultures Consequences; international differences in
work-related values. Sage, 1980.
Jade. To Know: A Guide to Women's Magic and Spirituality. Delphi Press,
Amber Jayanti. Living the Tarot; applying an ancient key to the challenges
of modern life. San Bernadino CA, Borgo Press, 1988.
W T Jones. The Romantic Syndrome; toward a new method in cultural anthropology
and the history of ideas. Martinus Nijhof, 1961.
Anthony Judge. Metaphor
as an unexplored catalytic language for global governance. Brussels,
1992 (48k) [text]
Otto Kroeger and Janet M Thuesen. Type Talk. Delta, 1988.
George Lakoff. Women, Fire and Dangrous Things; what categories reveal
about the mind. University of Chicago Press, 1987.
James Langham. Planetary Effects on Stock Market and Commodity Prices.
Albuquerque, Institute for Economic and Financial Research, 1979.
Richard S. Lazarus and R Launier. Stress related transactions between person
and environment. In: A Pervin and M Lewis (Eds). Perspectives in International
Psychology. Plenum, pp. 284-327
Richard S. Lazarus, J R Averill and E M Opton. The psychology of coping:
issues of research and assessment. In: G V Coelho, et al (Eds). Coping and
Adaptation. Basic Books, 1974
Dudley Lynch and Paul L Kordis. Strategy of the Dolphin; scoring a win
in a chaotic world. Fawcett Columbine, 1988.
Michael Maccoby. The Gamesman; the new corporate leaders. Secker
and Warburg, 1978.
Sally McFague. Metaphorical Theology; models of god in religious language.
London, SCM Press, 1983.
Gareth Morgan. Images of Organization. Sage, 1986.
Gareth Morgan. Riding the Waves of Change; developing managerial competencies
for a turbulent world. Jossey Bass, 1988.
Harold J Morowitz. Ego Niches; an ecological view of organizational
behaviour. Woodbridge CN, Ox Bow Press, 1977.
Michael Marien. A Future Survey guide to 50 overviews and agendas. Futures
Research Quarterly, Vol. 6, Spring 1990, 1, pp. 103-112.
Magoroh Maruyama. Epistemologies and esthetic principles. Journal of
the Steward Anthropological Society, 1978, 8, pp. 155-167
Miyamoto Musashi. The Five Rings (Go Ri No Sho); the real art of Japanese
management. Bantam, 1982.
Isabel Briggs Myers and Mary H McCaulley. Manual: a guide to the development
and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, Consulting Psychologists
Laurie Nadel, et al. Sixth Sense. Prentice Hall, 1990.
Daniel O'Keefe. Stolen Lightning; the social theory of magic. Oxford,
Martin Robinson, 1982.
John Rowan. Subpersonalities; the people inside us. Routledge,
Donald Schon. Generative metaphor; a perpsective on problem- setting
in social policy. In: Andrew Ortony (Ed). Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge,
Cambridge University Press, 1979, pp. 254-283.
Larry J Schulz and T J Cunningham. The Seasonal Structure Underlying
the Arrangement of the Hexagrams in the I Ching. US Federal Reserve Bank,
1988 (Research paper)
R G H Siu. Ch'i: a neo-taoist approach to life. Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, 1974
Sonia Stairs. Beyond Instrumental Rationality towards a Richer Public
Rationality. Greenwood BC, 1988.
R J Stewart. Living Magical Arts; imagination and magic for the 21st
century. Poole, Blandford Press, 1987.
Robert Theobald. Turning the Century; personal and organizational strategies
for your changed world. Indianopolis, Knowledge Systems, 1992
Union of International Associations. Encycopedia of World Problems and
Human Potential. K G Saur, 1986, 2nd ed. [commentary]
Union of International Associations. Encyclopedia of World Problems
and Human Potential. K G Saur, 1991, 3rd ed.
Jean-Pierre Van Noppen (Ed). Metaphor and Religion. Brussels, Vrije Universiteit
Brussel, 1983 (Theolinguistics 2)
Gao Yuan. Lure the Tiger out of the Mountains; the thirty-six strategems
of ancient China. Piatkus, 1991.