Can analogy help describe a project?

Responding to the question of how analogies can help explain projects. A delightful question posed tonight, on Opiner. (A brilliant app idea).

I wrote these notes in preparation for my 3 minute cameo.

The Greek word analogy means ‘proportion’, e.g., 2 is to 4 as 4 is to 8. Electrons and nucleus of an atom are related much as the planets are related to the sun. The analogy of analogy I offered is that it is like a zip-file of code passing from one closed system of consciousness to the next.

That is what we humans do. We symbolise and abstractly recreate what our senses have offered. We perceive.  We reformulate. We connect these abstractions. Approximate reality. This is how we think. How we communicate. And by both, we can collectively intend change.

Analogies do not help us explain projects. The notion of a project is an analogy. Analogous to the very fabric of what our projects are. Intended change. We approximate the complexity of nature, in attempt to understand change. We want to understand change because we can then influence it. We intend change, and by our shared approximations of reality attempt to control the change as we intend it.

This presents limitations. We cannot hope to receive and comprehend all by this summary. And we can only hope to summarise what we comprehend. Erroneous misunderstanding sits at every level of such conversion.

Analogy, metaphor, model, and theory each work well in describing intended change. Each is proportionally relative, limited by the range of our senses, perspectival and therefore compromised by the context of those observing it.

The notion of organisations being served by projects is also I think the wrong way around. Organisations are convenient and efficient means of putting ordered resource to work on bigger change. We can define smaller projects to reorganise that temporary organisational structure. Organisations are objectively bound. A legal convenience. They enable external processes, itself a transition state or change. Much as we can become the agent to change, biologically bound, and singularly legally culpable. Organisations are therefore the servant, not the masters of change.

I propose we change the narrative accordingly. The stories we tell enable us to be. They best approximate the processes of change we intend. Which is to the core of what it is to become the ever better contributor to the human project.

Tomorrow morning I attend a podcast with Project Chatter to discuss philosophy and if/how it applies to projects. This warms me up nicely for the dialogue to come. (Paul Goodge and Dale Fung).

Greek ‘proportion’2 is to 4 as 4 is to 8.electrons nucleus atom as planets are to the sun.
perceive symbolise reformulate connect extract vs abstractions abstractly recreateCommunication is abstract
EncodingModelling creating schemaAnalogy as zip-file of code
IN: We only receive and comprehend a summary of reality
OUT: We can only hope to summarise what we comprehend
a project analogy Intended changeAnalogy Metaphor Model theoryproportionally relative sensorially bound perspectival
the organisation an analogy legal convenienceordered resource process facilitatorsProcess Analogy of steps or change
Organisations are therefore the servant not the masters of change
change the narrative intended change at all scales core of what we are
Presentation crib notes

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

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