Educational media is terrible. Let’s do better and save the world.          

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Experts and leaders speak in simple, action based metaphors.

On Experts' Use of Visual Metaphors

Some very smart, typically academically trained people use a lot of big and conceptually precise words and phrases to describe a situation (such as "Orthogonal " and "Force multiplier"). Others may introduce classic metaphors (such as "Manifest Destiny" and "The Sword of Damocles"), based on cultural literacy. At best, this manner of speech is highly illuminating within a given in-group, and at worse, it is a form of intellectual vulgarity, the artifact of cultures that prioritize impressing over communicating.

The best SMEs for creating more ambitious Short Sims speak in highly vivid, simple visual metaphors. They use basic examples or abstractions to make complex processes very clear. This is more typical of both military personnel and business leaders, and is an approach unfairly looked down upon by academics.

Perhaps the best example is the title of Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl influential book: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam.

Some other examples include:

 • I started poking the bear...

 • ...Too much fog of war...

 • That was the secret sauce. ..

 • That dog won't hunt

 • That rubbed people the wrong way

 • She was putting her thumb on the scale

• Roll with the punch...

 • Go outside and pound sand...

• There are three kinds of people: racehorses, Clydesdale, and donkeys... 

And, of course, sports metaphors.

(From my book Short Sims, Taylor and Francis, 2020)

No comments:

Post a Comment