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Metaphor & Analogy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 14 Mar 2012, 10:48

METAPHOR

  • A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
  • A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, esp. something abstract.


Wikipedia - Dictionary.com - Answers.com - Merriam-Webster

ANALOGY

  • A comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification - an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies - he interprets logical functions by analogy with
  • A thing that is comparable to something else in significant respects - works of art were seen as an analogy for works of nature
  • A process of arguing from similarity in known respects to similarity in other respects
  • A process by which new words and inflections are created on the basis of regularities in the form of existing ones
  • The resemblance of function between organs that have a different evolutionary origin

 

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B822 Techniques Library: Using 'Crazy' Ideas

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 10 Jan 2012, 07:15

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Ken Dodd

Ideas that could get you fired if suggested or are lauigh out loud funny; so there's a risk. (Techniques Library 2010)

Developed by Rickards (1974) as 'Wildest Idea' and de Bono (1982) as 'Intermediate impossible'.

Why beneficial?

  • They break down assumptions.
  • The humour can energise a group and trigger more ideas (inlcuding some unthought of that might work)

Use these techniques:

  • Brainstroming
  • Free Association
  • Excusrsion

Treat it seriously to see where it takes you

Don't get stuck on a non-starter (but aren't they all implicitally a non-starter if they are going to get you fired or ar laughable?)

REFERENCE

Rickards, T. (1974) Problem-solving Through Creative Analysis, Essex, UK, Gower Press.

de Bono, E. (1982) Later Thinkking for Management, Pelican Books.

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed. Van Nostranran Reinhold. Technique 4.61. p. 202


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B822 BK2 Technique Library for creative problem solving

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Feb 2014, 16:38

B822 Technique Library

My mother has always had a large drawer in a sideboard full of board games: Risk, Monopoly, Twister, Cluedo and Othello, and at some stage Chartbuster, Kerplunk, Masterpiece, Mousetrap and others.

Having picked my way through the B822 Creativity Innovation and Change ‘Technique Library’ A5 folder I feel I am looking into this drawer.

IDEA ONE: VISUALISATION

We have a large ‘Really Useful Box’ full of board games too.

In order to appreciate the game, to know if you like or loathe it, to know who would or would not enjoy it, you have to get them out and have a play. Over time attitudes to a game change. People take on a persona, you expect a certain kind of performance out of them. I rarely win at Monopoly because I buy everything until I run out of money.

Returning to the idea of a collection of board games I would far prefer a colourful pack of A5 cards, on one face an image, perhaps a colourful, humorous Steven Appleby cartoon, on the other the ‘game’.

The B822 Techniques ‘Library’ of assembled cards, ideas, folder is ‘like a collection of board games’ you might find at your Mum’s, in a box in the garage, or stacked on a cloakroom shelf in a holiday cottage. You get them out when you are bored, or in this case, stuck for an idea.

Middle Farm sells many varieties of cider and perry.

There is no catalogue. You cannot taste a list of titles. You collect a tasting cup and try out a selection; you get stuck in. You can ask the experts behind the counter, when you have something to discuss.

The B822 Techniques ‘Library’ of assembled cards, ideas, folder is ‘like a cider distillery’ where, to get beyond the titles and cataloguing, especially the false preference given by alphabetical order, you have to ‘have a taste’ and come to your own opinion.

My approach, against the advice, has been to read through them all. I remain tempted to take them all out and glue them inside pieces of card on which I will do a doodle or stick an image.

My first selection, my inquisitive mind, likes the look of :

Analogies

A succinct definition is required: A form of logical inference or an instance of it, based on the assumption that if two things are known to be alike in some respects, then they must be alike in other respects. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/analogy)

There is an albatross airplane, this one in the USAF. It looks like a Puffin or a Dodo.

I would never liken a Jumbo jet to an albatross as the bird already has negative connotations. You cannot see it for its history. You shoot the thing and hang it around your neck.

A puffin or cormorant then.

Does anyone need to be told why a Jumbo jet and an albatross are not alike?

Filling in the blanks and sticking with the albatross I get the improbably sentence, ‘This problem makes me think of an albatross – that suggests to me that maybe we could try feathers (idea drawn from albatross)’. Sounds like a dead duck. Are there planes that were an albatross?

Perhaps Leonardo Da Vinci thought of a plane as a bird?

Were I to be introduce the concept of analogies to a group I would start with a blank sheet, seeking out people’s favourite analogies for everyday situations or problems and build from there. There’s a problem if you set in train a thought, here ornithological. Before you know it all the ideas are tits and boobies, eagles and dodos.

‘Try to find core verb phrase that captures the essential functional nature of what you are looking for’ (Martin & Bell, 2010). (There are no page numbers, so how do you reference it?)

If analogies taught the world to think, then promoted like this I would conclude that to use an analogy with its ‘analogues’ (sic) is akin to painting by numbers. It is present in such an unnecessarily analytical manner.

Definition: An analogue is: something analogous to something else (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/analogue)

How can a simple concept me made to sound like something carried out by an audit team from the local firm of accountants. It sounds painful rather than fun.

I have to look up (q.v) as in quo vid, or ‘which see’.

I track down the reference to Gordon by ‘going to see’ Synectics, a software version as ThoughtPath exists.

· Are you dealing with the person who owns the problem?

· Are they looking for a number of solutions

· Establish the team

If ‘analogies are often used very informally’ then an informal, rather than this proposed formal approach should be offered.

1. What is it you want ideas for?

2. Based on the verb phrases list items that it is like

3. Pick an interesting one

4. Describe the analogy

Gordon (1961) identified four types:

· Direct

· Symbolic

· Fantasy

· Personal

IDEA TWO: MIND-MAP

IDEA THREE: RELATIONAL DATABASE

I would put all these problems onto a wall chart. I’d put everything online into a blog that could be searched by tag (or key word), or load them into a relational database such as FilemakerPro.

Twenty years ago (perhaps fifteen?) I used a CD-ROM called 'Ideafisher' to help generate ideas. I treated it as the equivalent of a mental tickling stick, not a set of answers, but a potential catalyst that would open up my mind (sometimes too far).

 

REFERENCE

Gordon, W.J.J. (1961) Synectics, New York, Harper & Row.

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Techniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

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B822 Bk1 C4 Analogical Thinking in Business, Organisations and Mangement Styles

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Feb 2014, 18:17

 

Analogical thinking, from Churchill's 'iron curtain' to the invention of Velcro.

(Indeed neurologists believe there is a gene that causes human beings to think in metaphors and that it is exactly this that allows us to invent, in fact  creativity in the face of adversity still rings true today, though we are not  facing a Sabre-toothed tiger at the entrance to the cave, or changing climate  with the onset of the ice age.)

Analogy - transfer of an idea from one domain to another.

Metaphor - resemblance or flavour. A way of making the strange familiar p.85. Or the hard to comprehend (trees, ecosystems, architecture, traffic lights).

Morgan (1986)

Kinds of metaphor:

·         Mechanistic

·         Ecological

·         Social

·         Cognitive

·         Systematic

Metaphors as labels:

Manager as captain or conductor.

Morgan (1986, 1997)

·         Machine

·         Organism

·         Culture

·         Brain

·         Political System

·         Psychic prison

·         Flux

·         Transformation

·         Instrument of domination

ACTIVITY 4.1

1) Pick three metaphors (a, b, c) for organisations, for instance the organisation as machine, organism or political system.

2) List the characteristics you associate with each.

3) Try and relate each characteristic to a feature in an organisation that you know.

4) What features of organisations do these characteristics highlight, and what do they conceal?

A) As an orchestra, ABB, 1999. A corporate cliché I have seen applied to Abbey National and others. Visually it may have resonance, though the cost of featuring musicians, let alone playing a piece where used is prohibitive to all but the largest organisations. The characteristics are of complementary divisions 'playing the same tune' with woodwind, strings and brass, for example representing the different businesses. With a single conductor it may better fit the largely privately owned enterprise, say a Richard Branson and Virgin, or a Russian Oligarch, though no longer News International and the Murdochs. The features perhaps work for News International with newspapers and TV interests, even having a go with MySpace being largely media, whilst Branson is more the empirical Napoleonic conqueror of anything going?

B) As a strawberry plant, i.e. a federal organisation that has grown organically rather than by acquisition, perhaps like a clearing bank? Perhaps like a franchise such as Kall-Kwik. Or a retail chain, appropriately, such as Body Shop. The characteristics I think of are independently managed businesses that sell the same range of products, with common branding and sales materials, though with some localisation. This works well in relation to the plant performing differently on a variety of local soils/climates i.e. the same organism but in different settings/opportunities to flourish or not.

An empire

C) As an empire, where a holding company or private equity group has gone on the acquisition trail buying up businesses for the opportunity, rather than as sets of businesses that complement each other, so take over, create economies of scale in management and Head Office functions. The characteristics here feel as if it should be military with no good outcome, ala 'Wall Street', though there are or nave been more benevolent, squid give groups or holdings companies in the past such as the long gone Ferguson Industrial Holdings PLC, or perhaps Unipart Group of Companies (UGC). This suggests a dictator at the top, though the leaders can be benevolent even if a tall pyramid is the business structure.

If the organisation doesn't fit the metaphor, it is too simplistic a metaphor!  

The metaphor can intone a favourable or negative bias. For example, if asked in research to describe the organisation you work for as a car do you want it to be a Citroen 2CV, or a VW Golf, a Rolls-Royce or Ford Escort, a 1980s Ford Cortina or a Triumph Stag?

A business that is a machine I the digital age is surely going to get left behind through its rigid bureaucracies and hierarchies, a predilection for quantitative measures (ROI and KPIs) too?

(My concpetion of the School of Communication Arts. Which one am I?)

In the past I used successfully the idea of 'nurturing' to represent first a school (Arts College) and then my own services to graduate recruiters.

In 2011 it seems archaic to think of teachers or tutors in this way, people who are moderators, coaches or facilitators. (The ecological metaphor is used with a cartoon not dissimilar to my own p.88 not shown here for copyright reasons, to represent people as seedlings or potted plants).

From Table 4.1 metaphors of businesses in relation to:

  • Character
  • Flair
  • Structure
  • Climate
  • Style
  • Authority
  •  Form
  •  Control
  • Decisions
  • Strategy
  • Adaptability
  • Orientation
  • Approach
  • Procedure
  • Attitude

ACTIVITY 4.2

Take expressions of the above for a 'Machine like business, as 0 on a scale and

'Organic' as 10, then decide where:

a) you place your own organisation and b) yourself.

ACTIVITY 4.3

I'll do this one offline.

Other metaphors might include:

  • Brain
  • Knowledge
  • Learning

Network (Morgan, 1993) business as a spider-plant.

Federal (Handy, 1989) business as shamrock

Chaos and complexity.

Brains and cities.

Supporting 'patterns of transformation that emerge spontaneously in complex adaptive systems'. (Henry 2006:95)

Complex adaptive systems: termites, flock movements,  (anecdote of the aeroplane simulator managed by parts of an audience that  collectively cancels out the oddball, incompetent, inattentive or would-be plane-crashing individuals) p96 (Berreby, 1998:45 and Clark, 1997:75).

Self-organisation

'people do not need to be told what to do: they are intelligent agents continuously learning and modifying their behaviour on the basis if feedback'. Handy (2010:97)

See DVD 2, Video 3

N.B. The metaphors chosen tend to reflect the chooser's values. (Henry 2006:98)

Activity 4.4

What metaphor would you use to describe your organisation?

Activity 4.5

Describe the process of management as you experience it.

  • Warlike
  • Sporting
  • Spiritual

Activity 4.6

A metaphor to describe my management style.

Activity 4.7

Note metaphors to describe daily management styles.

Activity 4.8

Take a current task, associate with it an appropriate metaphor then give it  another that is far removed from the first.

Organisational paradigms p.104

Functionalist paradigm - world as an objective reality.

Kolb (1984) drawing on Pepper (1942)

Four ways of thinking about the world:

  1. Mechanistic
  2. Realist
  3. Organicist
  4. Pragmatic

And thinking styles:

  • Assimilator
  • Converger
  • Diverger
  • Accommodator

Table 4.2 Organisational metaphors and paradigms

Activity 4.9 WHAT METAPHOR WOULD YOU OFFER FOR MANAGEMENT IN THE 21st CENTURY?

 I've experienced many, including from the table:

·         Chaos/postmodern/play

 I know of:

·         System/participatory/co-create

 I like the sound of:

·         Drama/interpretive/enact

For the 21st Century I like the model of the modern ideas lab in which innovative ideas are trialled, developed then kicked out with a chunk of financing to thrive however turns out best! 

This is the sink or swim analogy.  

But after suitable teaching/coaching. Or perhaps a metaphor of procreation, raising and nurturing a child then letting them go? So organic or animal (or in particular mammalian or human).

Stacy (1996) and danger of controls, procedures and Pre-specified objectives.

FURTHER READING

Morgan, G. 'Paradigms, metaphors and puzzle-solving', C9 in Henry (1999a)

FROM MY OU STUDENT BLOG

'Consider this medium as like talking with your fingers - half-way between spoken conversation and written discourse.' (Hawkridge, Morgan and Jeffs, 1997,  quoted in Salmon 2005)

Salmon, G (2005) E-moderating. The Key to teaching and learning online.

REFERENCE

Berreby, D (1998) 'Complexity theory: fact-free science or business tool?

Strategy and Business, No. 10, pp. 40-50.

Clark, A (1997) Being there. Cambridge, MA. MIT

Henry, J & the MBA Course Team (2006, 2010) B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'  Book 1 'Creativity, Cognition and Development'. The Open University Business School

Morgan, G. (1986 2nd 1997) Images of Organisation 

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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:26

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are 'H' and '800' and '807' and '808' as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I've taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to 'Education' and 'Metaphor' going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year ... or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I've kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A'Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool ... to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I'm not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I'll be through 'Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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New media, old thinking ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 08:19

Courtesy of Google and on the hunt for a quote that goes something along the lines of 'analogies taught the world to think,' I stumbled across the Quote Garden.

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What strikes me is my feeling that the time engaged with the medium of the Internet is not a boast that it is wise to make, that it is counter-intuitive, that the best ideas are more likely to come from someone who got access to a computer with a broadband connection for the first time a few months ago and is bouncing out ideas like a sparkling Catherine-wheel that's come un-nailed.

Wherein lies the dilemma for every creative working in this field - or pond, or my favourite analogy ... in this 'digital ocean.'

If the likes of Google and Facebook have gone from minows to sharks, to leviathons worthy of the era of the dinosaurs, when does something new come along like a water-born virus and kill them off?

Or are Google, Facebook, Amazon an EBay vast shoals, even a branded variety of species now that are less vulnerable to such attack?

Distracted

Faced with three deadlines over the next ten days what do I do? Something else.

I like something else, these sparks.

Where was I?

Working on a piece about wikis. I wish this were a wiki. I like them. They suit me. I will be an engaged participant, a catylst, a stirrer-upper ... though not necessarily an initiator or completer, because serendipty engages me and distraction takes me off again.

What does that make me in this digital ocean?

One of these?

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Who are you?

Go fishing and post your fishy-self image in the comment box!

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