Visual metaphors

I’ve recently been reading an article by Lakoff and Johnson titled Conceptual Metaphor in Everyday Language (1980) [thanks to Rebecca for the tip!] and so far it’s been a great success in terms of my own research in visual knowledge creation and communication. I’m still digesting the article and I’ve heard that their book is even better (NB another colleague of mine told nothing interesting come out in the 1980s, but I guess Lakoff and Johnson prove that argument to be a false one), but I still recommend everyone to take a look at that paper. In short, they present an argument that different kinds of metaphors permeate the way we use language, and some of their examples were really surprising. Well, not if you think about it (for example up-down division, up referring to positive things and down to negative ones), but then I started to think about all these sense-making (e.g. Weick) scholars and how that fits into the picture.

I’m not an expert on sense-making, but one thing certainly is interesting: how do we make sense of organizations we’re embedded in? One thing is to describe how many colleagues we have, but how would you describe your organization, for example? Are words enough? Or too much? When I was in Tokyo this August, I bought these wooden blocks by Chigo and now I think I’ve found a way to utilize them in my research. Once I have time from admin/urgent matters, I’ll invite my colleagues (roughly 24 people in our International Business group) to use the blocks to illustrate how they would describe our group. I think the results – visual metaphors – could potentially be interesting, but the “So what?” factor is still missing.

What do you think? How could I take this line of thinking further?

Have a nice week! 🙂

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