The challenge of metaphors in organizational problem-solving

Margaret Wheatley is a well-known organizational writer and consultant, and if you are interested in organizational analysis, you should definitely check out her blog. I love how she frames the organizational failure to solve problems:

“Consider the language used to describe problem-solving. We “attack the problem,” “tackle the issue,” “take a stab at it,” “wrestle it to the ground,” “get on top of it.” If colleagues argue with us, we complain that they “shot down my idea,” “took pot shots at me,” “used me for target practice,” or that “I got killed.” In the face of opposition, we “back down,” “retreat” or “regroup.” (Sometimes there are gentler metaphors in use–we may “float an idea,” or test it to see “if it has legs.”) Such aggressive descriptions of problem solving point to a startling conclusion. We experience problem-solving sessions as war zones, we view competing ideas as enemies, and we use problems as weapons to blame and defeat opposition forces. No wonder we can’t come up with real lasting solutions!”

You can read the rest of her piece here.