When to use?
Metaphor is an attempt to understand one element of experience in terms of another. The metaphor technique allows the participants to find fresh ways of seeing, understanding, and shaping the situations that they want to organize and manage. This technique is helpful for those looking to generate a wide range of complementary and competing insights and learning to build strengths of different points of view. Metaphor should be used when participants are looking to tap different dimensions of a situation and show how different qualities can coexist. Metaphor generates important insights and creates an opportunity to stretch the imagination and to see problems in distinctive yet individual ways.
How to use?
Participants are asked to view the subject as a metaphor. Next, they are asked to look for similarities among the subject and the chosen metaphor. It is important to look only for similarities and to ignore the differences. Then, the metaphor should be used to create a new way of thinking about the original subject. The metaphor should be used to determine the questions that are asked, the answers that are sought, the procedures that are performed, the staff that is hired and the outcomes that are measured. It is important to let the metaphor completely envelop the subject.
Metaphor produces one-sided insight which highlights certain interpretation and forces others back. The use of metaphor can lead to the creation of new metaphors which can create a combination of competing and complementary insights, and help to overcome the limitations that are inherent to the given issue. Some metaphors tap familiar ways of thinking; others develop insights and perspectives that will be rather new. The concept of the metaphor technique can be mobilized at the practical level to create more efficient ways of understanding and tracking organizational problems. It is important to understand that metaphor implies a way of thinking and a way of seeing that permeate the way we understand the world.