Ideas and Insights
Aphrodite is a goddess of life, of delight in experience, of unembarrassed enchantment by beauty.
Beauty is a powerful force in human affairs of all kinds. In the organization given over to an Aphrodite culture, it is the key value around which all else revolves. Some organizations are essentially Aphrodite-dominated. The fashion industry, especially cosmetics distributors and modelling agencies, is involved in the worship of Aphrodite by its very nature. Advertising and marketing organizations, which are engaged in various kinds of seduction, are likely to have something of Aphrodite in their culture. Organizations whose focus is on creating or displaying beautiful products, such as orchestras, art galleries and ballet companies, are likely to live out the myth of Aphrodite, as are health and fitness clubs. Predictably, Aphrodite has a strong presence in the culture of organizations involved in the marketing of beauty products. Anita Roddick describes how Aphrodite values are promoted in The Body Shop.
People living in an Aphrodite culture may pay a lot of attention to personal appearance; they may be obsessed with the need to be attractive; they may be more interested in the elegance of what they do than with its usefulness or efficiency; they may not have much interest in doing anything at all if it is not fun. They may pursue the fantasy of perpetual youth and perfect beauty (and be always disappointed). The Aphrodite organization will give attention to the environment in which people work. The Aphrodite organization not only values beauty for its own sake but recognises the need of every member of the organization to find beauty close at hand.
There may be a relatively small number of organizations that are driven entirely by the pursuit of beauty, but it is a drive experienced by individuals in every organization. In writing a report, developing a product or a strategy, attacking a problem, conducting a meeting, they may, consciously or not, be seeking the most elegant and beautiful solution rather than the most efficient, useful or economical one. In most organizations they may have to keep this eccentricity secret; in the Aphrodite organization they may be actually encouraged in such behaviour.
The Aphrodite organization provides a stimulating and satisfying environment for all sorts of activities, but it may have to cope with the pathology of the most beautiful of the gods: bitchiness, vindictiveness, superficiality in relationships, self-obsession and self-indulgence, lack of awareness of social obligations of any kind, inability to tolerate the grittiness of reality, distaste for work, carelessness of consequences.
The consultant who looks at organizations from an Aphrodite perspective will look at the quality of experience of those who work in the organization. Are they enlivened rather than deadened by their participation? From this perspective the strength of the organization is to be found in the delight people find in their work and the elegance of their processes and products.