The 12 Signs of the Corporate Zodiac

As I entered the new year, I, like many souls around the world, started wondering what the new year would bring. I did not think it would bring pandemic. But this is not about that. The global disruption of COVID-19 is far too serious and fresh for me to tackle. This is more on the lines of a lighthearted thought-exercise to peel my eyes away from the hellscape on the news. Where was I…ah, yes, a u-turn back to lighter topics: innocently wondering what 2020 would bring…

My wondering took me wandering down some delightful internet trails, like models for emergent team learning, hiking boot quantitative rating systems, best Spotify playlists for folk rock subgenres, and D&D to name a few (I promise…I’m cool). But none captured my 2020 interest and imagination quite the way that the Zodiac has.

Folks, the Zodiac is wild. I delved deep into the mysticism of the Zodiac and found that it gazed back. I learned how complex the various astrology systems are and was shocked at how intricate things get. I mean, I just thought that Scorpio’s were intense and Taurus’ were stubborn but then I started seeing “Moon signs” and “Sun signs,” Something in the House of Something, Ascendant personality tendencies, manifestations of Feminine and Masculine energy, and… yikes! I thought this stuff was just a bit of stereotypes when it turns out that it has as much systematic rigor as corporate IT architecture! Hello astrology, the original Meyers-Briggs indicator.

Following this trail, I also learned all about my Leo craziness. I now understand that it is “normal” for me to like the sound of my own voice so much. See! I can’t help it that I like to talk a lot! Totally in stereotype then that I’d post articles on LinkedIn to get validation from others…

Going one step further, I started to wonder about the intersections with all of this Zodiac stuff and Corporate Earth. I mean, could a place so sterile really share any thematic or practical connection with something as zany as astrology?

The short answer: yes. But you came here for the long answer.

So here we go: I concluded that the traditional Zodiac might have interesting links to the corporate world, but that we really need a new zodiac system; one that is rooted in the mundane glory of Corporate Earth. So I made one up.

I present to you, the “official” Corporate Astrological Zodiac. Note that the Corporate Zodiac year starts in October to accommodate the ever-hopeful dawn of a new fiscal year, and ends in September. Similar to the traditional Zodiac, there are 12 signs, grouped according to the 4 (corporate) elements. Instead of the original elements of air, earth, water, fire, Corporate Earth has elements that better fit a realm of banality.

The four corporate elements are:

  • Mind (Air): the Mind signs all share a penchant for high-level thinking and abstraction. These signs are very head-oriented and are comfortable with ambiguity and structuring ideas, sometimes preferring to think more than to do. Mind signs are quite intellectual and love chewing on a fuzzy problem.
  • Grind (Earth): the Grind signs like putting their head down and getting shit done — and they are good at it. These signs excel at focused work on clear objectives, and are less comfortable with ambiguity. They are rational, logical, and bring intense focus to their work.
  • Connect (Water): the Connect signs all understand the flow of human emotion and how that impacts the workplace. Connect signs often have high emotional intelligence and are in roles that emphasize relating to and building rapport with others. They are perceptive about those around them and what they need to succeed.
  • Direct (Fire): signs of the Direct element are often ones that ignite action in others. These signs are ones to lead, to decide, and to set direction for other signs. Direct signs can be forceful and imposing, though they do this in different ways. They like the heat and the pressure of being the decision-maker.

Here’s our breakdown of the Corporate Zodiac year.

October: Strategy Person

The Corporate Zodiac begins with a Mind sign focused on new beginnings. Because what would a Company be without a full-scale strategic reset at least once per year? A new year, a new 143-slide deck outlining our new vision for growth. The Strategy Person embodies abstraction, high-level thinking, and buzzwords. Smart and occasionally esoteric, the Strategy Person is a sign that thrives when exploring cutting-edge topics and early adoption. They just sometimes need help turning those ideas into reality.

November: Procurement

The season of Black Friday is also the time of the sign that gets the right things at the right time. The Procurement sign is one of practicality and efficiency. A Grind sign with tremendous rigor, this sign is known for its diligence and skill at navigating complex networks. If you need a frank sense of how things are going, these signs are also good to go to as they adore “status-checks” and progress tracking. Procurement signs tend to be fastidious and sometimes over-complicate things — though they would say that they are simply thorough.

December: Executive Assistant

The holidays are great, and so are gifts. This generous sign is all about giving to others. The EA sign is one of the most interpersonal and gregarious signs in the Corporate Zodiac. They tend to be quite intuitive in understanding the emotions and needs of others, and aren’t afraid to get very personal with people. The first Connect sign on the calendar, EA signs are empathetic, dependable, and great networkers. They often care less about the strategy or the details of a situation, and instead focus on the people.

January: The Board

The cold days of January’s post-holiday malaise bring out a sign that is known for its cold and imposing demeanor. Though it may seem cold, The Board sign can light fires all throughout the corporate hierarchy. Known for its decisiveness and self-assurance, this Direct sign is a tone-setter in any setting. Board signs are all about igniting change and leading others through uncertain situations. Those born under the Board sign often share a natural ability to inspire, though their decision-making can sometimes come across as callous.

February: R&D

Love is in the air…the love of incremental innovation that is. With spring just around the corner (or almost here, hello global warming), the scent of new ideas & prototypes wafts around like freshly ground coffee. The R&D sign is all over that. R&D signs are very inquisitive and scrappy. They are always on a quest for knowledge and pushing boundaries. This Mind sign is a sign for tinkerers, inventors, and people who like to try new things. Do those new ideas actually work? Who cares! Breakthrough product inventions don’t happen without experimentation!

March: Software Engineer

Spring is on the way, birds chirp outside (and have been since February, remember global warming?) but heads are hunched down for those with this focused sign. Epitomizing the intensity of a Grind sign, Software Engineers like to get shit done and let someone else worry about all the abstract thinking. They bring an almost religious fixation on doing things logically. Known to be quite dry, Software Engineer signs value their independence more than any other sign — just leave them alone and let them code will ya?!?!

April: Human Resources (HR)

The word “human” is literally in the name, so you know HR signs are going to be focused on people. More than any other Corporate Zodiac sign, these Connecters want to understand feelings. Attuned to development and growth, HR signs are sensitive to peoples’ needs that often get ignored during times of business stress. Supportive and thoughtful, an HR sign is a good person to turn to when you need someone to listen. While their sensitivity is helpful when you want support, it can make them very defensive if they feel you aren’t following established processes.

May: Project Manager

Do it, and do it now. The Project Manager sign is one of rolled-up sleeves and milestones getting completed. A Direct sign that is delighted to embrace its authority status, PM signs like to be in a position to drive action. Goal-oriented yet adaptable, these exacting signs keep everyone on the same page and on target. While they can be a bit bossy, Project Manger signs aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty if progress is lagging — though you’ll definitely hear about it later in a retrospective.

June: External Consultant

It’s that time of year when our projects start to show signs of duress…tis the season to spend excessive amounts of money for External Consultants! June’s sign is that of the highly-paid, high-thinking Mind sign that brings some sweet, sweet external perspective. This sign is known for looking at obvious problems in new ways, and for bringing stylistic flair that everyone remembers. They’re often the best dressers in the room, standing out from the regular corporate crowd. These ambitious signs value reputation and looking good…because that’s what we pay them the big bucks for.

July: Operations

When the heat turns up, only those Agile enough will succeed. Or at least that’s what an Operations sign would say. If you need something done meticulously, these signs are where to look. A Grind sign that is born during the hot months of July, Operations signs have an eternal summer fling with Efficiency. Practical, systematic, and Lean, these signs are obsessed with improvement. And don’t even get them started talking about waste, or they might have to tell you about all Six of the Sigmas. Who needs life’s pleasures when you can instead have continuous process improvement???

August: Sales

When August rolls around, you know it’s time to start freaking out about year-end targets…don’t worry, this sign has you covered! The last of the Connect signs, Sales is a bit different than the others. They are intense, driven, and shockingly adept at understanding what people want. Sales’ passion for converting leads sometimes causes people to mistake this sign for a fiery Direct type. In fact, Sales is a sign motivated by personal connections and underlying emotions. Notoriously temperamental but always hard-working, Sales keeps corporate life interesting.

September: Finance

A month that stays hot way too long (again, hello global warming) needs a sign that can really turn up the heat. As the last sign of the Corporate Zodiac, Finance brings an air of finality. This powerful Direct sign can empower others, just as easily as it can guillotine a struggling project. Don’t be mistaken: Finance signs might look nerdy, but they can drive change and spur action like no other sign. A very decisive sign, it is fitting that the year ends with a sign known for its ability to bring death (or rebirth) to Corporate activities.

And there you have it — the “official” Corporate Zodiac system to guide our interpretation of personalities and archetypes on Corporate Earth. I hope you enjoyed this little spot of whimsy amidst the carnage of Covid-19. Please join me next time when I attempt to metaphorically insert the next random subject area into the context of Corporate Earth.

A wanderer, a water-drinker, a wastrel, and [something pithy]