June 19, 2014

How much do you love me?

There are nine million bicycles in Beijing /That’s a fact,
It’s a thing we can’t deny / Like the fact that I will love you till I die.

Words from the lyrics of a Katie Melua song, Nine Million Bicycles.

It is kind of an extrapolation of the scene where a child is told, “Show me how much you love me!” and the kid tries to open the arms as much as possible to show how big his/her love is. It is an attempt to make something invisible, namely love, visible and measurable. Seeing the proof of love in its total extension satisfies our brains.

“We take care about our employees.”
“Our customers have first priority.”
“We respect the environment.”

These are all declarations made at the negotiation table as one tries to explain the company’s values to its potential purchasers. They are all as invisible as love.

Sure, a business owner will have the tools to make his/her listeners understand what he/she means with those declarations: A company-wide health insurance plan, a specific help desk for listening to customer complaints or having decided to apply for the Environmental Management Standard ISO 14001 certificate. The managers, listening to the owners, must have heard these explanations many times. What to do to have all these good intentions stick with them?

To achieve this you need a physical object which has no direct correlation with what you are saying: Bring in the bicycles… or the roses or the rocks… anything you can dream of… just to make the invisible measurable and memorable.

I don’t know if I can say “I love you” from now on without thinking of the bicycles in Beijing… ☺

If you want to listen to Nine Million Bicycles please click here.

The oldie of the week: The Searchers – Love Portion No. 9 (1966)

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