To the casual observer, business practice can seem bound by rigid rules, and in some cases it is. But in others, it’s an evolving approach to new opportunities and the evolving roles of businesspeople. Unlike the values of traditional business practice, the values of evolving practice often channel the humanities as much as they do the sciences, resulting in aphorisms-also referred to as maxims, quotations, sayings, and quotes-that have value beyond literary appeal. The following quote by Bill Gates is a good example: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
The value of quotations to business practice
Unlike some types of quotes, the most inspiring business quotes are usually experiential. They don’t come from CEOs or professors who speak from academic degrees. Rather, they come from people who make mistakes and learn from them, or who learn from others’ mistakes. Unlike sayings that aspire to be platitudes or academic dictums, experiential sayings have daily value to emerging businesses and businesspeople, and to seasoned businesses embarking on new ventures.
When company leaders discover the value of inspiring business quotes and sayings, they look for ways to impart them to employees. Below are four scenarios for making the power of quotations impact a company’s daily operations, beginning with the most familiar one: motivational posters.
Can motivational posters really work, or do they belong in the supply closet? According to Kenneth G. Brown, an associate professor of management and organizations at the University of Iowa, motivational posters can achieve their intended effect. But only if “they’re part of a broader campaign, with clearly outlined goals and a commitment from management.” For company leaders, this means replacing posters whose platitudes are Utopian, philosophically vague, or evocative of powdered wigs with posters whose wisdom applies to a campaign at hand.
A compilation of quotes
A book of business quotes is a great way to keep employees from stagnating in their tasks, especially if it’s part of a company reading program where employees meet and discuss favorite sayings from the book. Company reading programs are nothing new. But they often focus on books that employees skim through instead of reading in full. Unlike a standard prose work, which could take some employees days to read, a book of quotations lets employees invest only a few minutes of time.
Some motivational speakers serve up aphorisms like McDonald’s serve up hamburgers. But good speakers know that too many aphorisms can overwhelm the audience, preventing them from remembering even one. As with motivational posters, the key to using aphorisms in motivational speeches is to associate them with a particular campaign, or a company philosophy.
Quotations via email
One of the first things professionals do as they start their workday is check their email. This makes email an ideal way to deliver inspiring business quotes for employees to keep in mind as they go through the day. Over time, emailing quotations can do more than entertain employees with unique perspectives; it can help them incorporate new perspectives on daily business practice.