How Game of Thrones is Like Corporate America

Posted on July 11, 2014.

I tried to watch the ubiquitous Game of Thrones when it first came out.  But the myriad of characters, the special language used and constant change in direction completely confused me. Sound familiar?

Isn’t this exactly how you feel your first day on the job,  where acronyms are pervasive and you meet so many people you can’t remember anyone?  But because it’s so wildly popular I decided to give it another try. And now it’s easy for me to see how so many people can still relate to a show about a mythical place with mythical creatures. Don’t worry, no spoilers here as I'm still a show away from season one ender. So here’s where I see similarities:

·      The King is much like a CEO.  Robert, the king, is clearly a great leader, but a terrible manager.  So he has to have the “king’s hand” essentially run the kingdom for him. Sounds an awful lot like the COO, doesn’t it?

·      People are willing to move for a promotion. The new king’s hand, Ned, didn’t really want to leave his wife and home, but hey, it was a promotion and it really was an offer he couldn’t refuse.  I seriously can’t count the number of people I know that moved for my former employer, often setting up temporary housing and leaving their families at home.

·      There’s always someone with a separate agenda out for themselves. In Game of Thrones, there are too many of these people to name.  But if you’re honest with yourself, don’t you know or work with at least one person who is a pretty ruthless self-promoter?

·      Power can change people.  Pretty little Khaleesi was a complete innocent when her brother sold her to the savages as a bride.  But once she realized she was the “queen” with absolute power, she quickly turned on her own brother and has immersed herself in her new role.  Don’t know about you, but I’ve seen this more than once in corporations.

·      People that sacrifice everything often go unnoticed.  I’m not sure what will happen with poor John Snow, the bastard son of Ned, the king’s hand. But right now, he’s given up everything, and I mean everything, to protect the kingdom.  Besides his father, I’m not sure anyone at the king’s headquarters even knows about his sacrifice.  John is like the many worker bees out there who will stay late to finish a project, only to go home with zero recognition of their efforts.

·      There’s always someone who’s underestimated.  Enter Peter Dinklage, whose character is clearly the smartest and definitely the richest. And yet, because he’s a dwarf, he’s not as respected as he should be. Maybe sometimes you feel you don’t get the recognition or support you deserve.

If you haven't joined the Game of Thrones bandwagon, maybe it's time to give it a try. I’m really looking forward to finishing all the seasons.  Not just because it’s a truly great show, but because I recognize so many people I know.