Retrospective Facilitator Gathering

Regardless of what we discover...

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“So what is a Meta for?” (the title line was borrowed from a book chapter title by Mary Catherine Bateson …)

host = Klaus; participating co-creators = Kai, Sandra, Francois, Esther, Marc, Alex, Birgit, …, …

With language and images being THE prominent tools of communication in collaborating, coaching, and consulting, using metaphors is simply unavoidable. Far beyond being “decorative element only”, metaphor use is fundamental: whenever we try to describe the unknown with the help of the known we introduce metaphorical meanings of words used for (other) literal meanings so far. We carry meanings over from one domain of meaning (called “source domain” by linguists) to another (the “target domain”). That's where the word comes from: in Greek, “meta pherein” means “to carry over”, to carry to some other place (literally …). So it lies just on the verge of difference and identity, using what something IS NOT to explain what it IS. Where “opposites” describe maximum difference between two terms, “metaphor” describes the minimal difference.

There's lots of literature available on the topic. As entry points for understanding and application, I'd recommend the following authors and books: George Lakoff & Mark Johnson: “Metaphors we live by” - THE classic (1980) book on modern understanding of how fundamental metaphors are for language. James Geary: “I is an other” - Comprehensive, yet easy to read and insightful collection of the connections between metaphor and: - thought, money, mind, advertising, brain, body, politics, pleasure, kids, science, parables & proverbs, innovation, and psychology; a must read for metaphor fans. James Lawley & Penny Tompkins: „Metaphors in Mind“ (2000) - Surprising access to exploring our everyday use of metaphor in our inner, mental and emotional “maps”, our “psyche-scapes”, including a set of questions called “clean language” to help access this landscape without damaging it. There's also a comprehensive website on this: Gareth Morgan: “Images of Organization” - offers eight basic metaphors (machines, organisms, brains, flux & transformation, instruments of domination etc.) for understanding organizations of all kind, and explains, what the consequences and differences are, depending on what metaphor you choose and use. in German language only: Helmut Fuchs & Andreas Huber: “Metaphoring. Komplexität erfolgreich managen.” (2002) - Written by a trainer and a journalist, this is easy to read and full of both depth of background and ideas for practical application of metaphors in management contexts. One more access might be via two short articles (in German language only) I wrote about the subject (if you want to read them, send me a mail: Very often, inner and outer space (our body and objects & their constellations in our environment) are “sources” for our metaphors: Someone “touched my heart” or gut “my juices flowing”; someone else was “standing behind me” while I was “chasing an idea” … Some of these uses have become so deeply ingrained that they have become “conceptual metaphors”, like: “up is good” (that's why heaven and hell have their orientation in space …), “life is a journey” (that's why we're “on our way” and have “goals” …) or “time is money” (so we can “save”, “invest”, and “loose time” …) Currently especially fancy are brain metaphors: those of “left brain” versus “right brain”, and those of the “triune (or quadri-une)” brain for example. The left hemisphere of the brain is said to be more digital, analytic, numbers-oriented, the right hemisphere more analogue, holistic, image-oriented. (And sometimes, there is “nothing right in my left brain, nothing left in my right brain”, as one postcard said … ;-) The “tri-une brain” theory by Paul McLean says that under our “monkey brain” (the “neocortex”, the latest and largest addition to our human brains, processing cognitive functions including language) lies an “opposum brain” (the “limbic system” older part, processing emotions and decisions), and an archaic “reptile brain” (where vital functions like breathing and digesting are regulated, and where, under high stress, fight-flight-or-freeze reactions are initiated). A further, more recent distinction has been made with the “dolphin brain” (the “prefrontal cortex”, where social function are regulated and aggressive impulses censored). As the limbic system does not even have a language processing center, we have to use images to reach our “centers for emotions and decision”. The ideal tool to create images with language is - metaphor!

mo1.2.txt · Last modified: 2018/10/27 07:58 (external edit)