one picture says more than 1000 words
The metaphor is a technique to distance oneself from a situation. We use it whenever we attempt to understand one thing in terms of another. When we say "the man works like a horse", we use the image of a horse to draw attention to the horse-like aspects of the man. Of course we highlight only one particular aspect, because the man may at the same time be a male chauvinist pig, a wise man, a nincompoop, a bore or highly intelligent. Thus in drawing attention to the fact that the man is a hard worker we do not say anything about the other aspects. In this manner the metaphor can be used for inventive search and idea generation. We limit ourselves to certain aspects, not because they are the only ones, but because we want to focus on them in order to find a new perspective. Both brain halves are used: images, imagination as well as logical analysis.
The set-up of this book makes use of the metaphor: the voyage. Gulliver's Travels are used as a springboard to deal with different aspects of creativity.
Another example can be to use the shark as a start for the characteristics of a change agent.
Metaphors are of great use because they help us to 'travel' away from our own situation. At the sight of seemingly insurmountable problems we tend to duck away. The new situation can prove a challenge since it is different and activates the imagination. The participants step out of the system, only later on comparisons are made.
Metaphors can be used to get a new perspective of the situation and problems or to define a strategy for the future.
It is suggested to proceed as follows:
- Start with a metaphor, and not with the actual situation.
- Describe the metaphor as extensively as possible.
- Make an inventory of all aspects that come up.
- Then switch to the actual situation and see how the aspects found bear on it.
- The points found are worked out.
Below an example is given.