The Logical Long Arrow explained in a video tutorial

Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business.

This quote from the founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, can be taken as an undisputable advice of a successful businessman, or with a more critical and scrutinizing approach, like Logical Thinking Process practitioners would. The latter would immediately think about a “long arrow”, a jargon expression for a long leap of logic. In this post I’ll use Sir Richard Branson’s quote to explain what a long arrow is.

The quote is a pitch

This phrase, “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business”, is a pitch that picks the curiosity or interest of readers / listeners because it’s non-conventional and somewhat weird, as the suggested cause-and-effect relationship is not obvious, though everyone can intuitively understand there is a link.

I assume this is the goal: to make readers or listeners reflect on the phrase, analyze it and discover how paying more attention to one’s own staff ultimately leads to better business.

This pitch complies to at least 2 principles exposed in “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath:

  • It communicates profound insights in few words (a bit of thinking is needed, though)
  • It introduce an element of surprise with this unexpected statement in contradiction of the commonly accepted principle to put customer first.

The Virgin group shares their view on the subject on the corporate website:

This is great from a “marketing” point of view, but is less advisable when clarity is required in communication. In this latter case, the goal is to get a clear message to the audience without any room for possible misunderstandings or interpretations.

The logical long arrow

In the Logical Thinking Process a long arrow is a “leap of logic” or the omission of one or several cause-and-effect steps that connect a cause to an effect. In the Logical Thinking Process, a cause is visually linked to its effect by an arrow. The arrow’s tail is connected to the cause and the tip points to the effect. Therefore the reference to the arrow.

Leaps of logic are to be avoided for the sake of logical soundness. Long arrows are likely to confuse an audience as the listeners or readers cannot naturally link the elements together. In the case of the quote, I assume the confusion is purposely introduced.

The more steps skipped between a cause and an effect and the longer the arrow. In the quote, rephrased Logical Thinking Process style “if you take care of your employees, then they’ll take care of your business” is a pretty long arrow with many Necessary Conditions missing between the initial cause “taking care of employees” and the desired outcome “they take care of the business”.

One cannot immediately understand why taking care of employees will lead to them to take care of the business. Additionally, the desired outcome is not guaranteed. Taking care of employees might be way to eventually have them take care about the business, but it is by no means sufficient.

The long arrow concept and the missing steps in the quote are explained in the video below.

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

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