Re: Metaphor and Mental Models

Mike Kohl (
Wed, 21 Dec 1994 08:49:28 -0500

The war metaphor is overused and destructive I agree. Unfortunately it
continues to be advanced, due in part to many senior manager's early
military training. As an alternative, one might try DANCE as a more
cooperative, less destructive metaphor.

>> Second, the more conscious we are of our "root metaphors" as
>> graphic images of our mental models, the more able we are to change
>> inappropriate, obsolete, dysfunctional, or simply ineffective
>> "mental models." Metaphor has more power over us when we are
>> totally unaware of its presence, than when we ARE aware of its
>> presence, regardless of how accurate the metaphor is that we hold
>> as operative.
>There are a lot of fascinating underlying metaphors used in business
>which subtley direct thinking.
>One obvious one is that business is war. We talk about "strategy"
>and "tactics." We talk about "capturing" market share, "strategic
>alliances," "beating" our "competitor," etc.
>Yet war has several outcomes: destruction of the "enemy," absorption
>of the "enemy," or peace and mutual interdependence following
>diplomatic intervention. It's clear that the war metaphor is used to
>justify all kinds of aggressive actions, but the metaphor is quite
>incomplete. If you look closely at the war metaphor, you'll also
>notice that for the overall growth of the species, it's probably only
>outcome #3 (the one that DOESN'T exist in business) that's desirable.
>The work of Dr. Milton Erickson, who was possibly the world's
>greatest therapeutic hypnotist, used metaphor heavily and felt
>that it had the potential to produce profound behavior changes.
>[Unfortunately, I don't have any specific book references handy.]
>- Stever
>Stever Robbins
> Accept no substitutes! PGP key available upon request
> "You're only young once, but you can be immature forever."
Michael P. Kohl, P.E. Phone (404) 453-7455 Fax (404) 740-1506
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