xviii) Under-Estimating Importance Of Symbols

Under-estimating the importance of symbols. Five examples:

i) At the start of the Rugby World Cup final match in South Africa (1995), Nelson Mandela (the first black president of South Africa) walked on to the rugby ground wearing the South African rugby jumper. This was a pivotal moment in the reconciliation process between the white and black South Africans. During the apartheid era, rugby had epitomized the "white supremacy" attitudes in South Africa. By wearing the South African jumper, Mandela broke the stereotypical mould and laid the foundation for multi-racial sports. Furthermore, once word spread of Mandela's actions, many black South Africans started to support the "white" South African team in its successful quest to become world champions.

ii) When the "Allied" forces captured Baghdad, the television cameras showed some American soldiers placing their "stars and strips" flag over the head of a large statue of Saddam Hussein. This photo was immediately flashed around the world. To countries that were concerned about America's motives in invading Iraq, this gesture added to their concerns that America was capturing Iraq, not liberating it.

iii) Prior to the heavy-weight champion fight between George Foreman and Mohammed Ali in Congo (nicknamed the "rumble in the jungle"), George arrived with his pet Alsatian dog. When the Congo had been a colony of Belgium, the Belgians had used Alsatian dogs to control the locals. As a result, George immediately became the villain, or anti-hero, in the fight, and the locals tried to poison the dog!!!!!!!

iv) Another example involves a well-established transportation company that was over 100 years old and had developed many strong traditions. As it had a royal charter, the royal coat of arms was painted on the sides of trucks. The company had been losing money yet staff members were still feeling comfortable. A new CEO ordered the entire fleet to be painted white. There was much resistance to this by staff, and customers started to query drivers about the possibility of a new logo. This resulted in staff starting to think about what business they were in and helped revitalise the company's performance

v) consider the case of Intel that developed the first commercially available dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips in 1971. By the early 1980s, the Japanese DRAM makers had successfully attacked the U.S. market and caused prices to drop significantly. As a result, the DRAM business was not profitable for Intel, yet senior management continued to allocate most of the R&D money to the DRAM business. On the other hand, Intel's future lay with being a microprocessor. To demonstrate this change in focus

"...Gordon Moore and Andy Grove made their exit through the company's revolving lobby door as managers of the old company, and re-entered as managers of the new company..."

Clayton Christensen et al, 2003


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