It’s all just one big analogy

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.

Find my professional mask here:

Bright Friday

Home but not alone

I have been sat at this desk for 623 days now. As I write this blog I am reading news of the World Trade Organisation postponing a ministerial meeting in response to this new Omicron Covid-19 variant {here}. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove presenting a few seconds of comment that reaffirm the news that mutations of B1.1.529 is a variant of concern.

Picture opposite, sourced via BBC citing South Africa’s CERI. An early visual of the mutation which threatens to enable faster spread rates.

South Africa CERI website of note {here}.

For those who do not know, my wife has underlying medical constraints – lung capacity severely compromised – which mean we are both locked-down indefinitely whilst SARS-Covid19 remains at large. Maybe her third dose of vaccine last month will this time offer some underlying protection – the first two did not – but for now we are sitting this out. With variant Omicron B1.1.529 offering a little distraction, there may yet be cause to expect a longer stay.

But that’s okay. We are lucky in many ways. Indeed my whole research endeavour and time at my desk can be directly thanked for this extended retreat. We have many reasons to be thankful to so many.

I reflect today upon my connectivity with the wider world. On how far one can reach without leaving the house. These are truly changing times. I have blogged elsewhere about moments of great upheaval or change being linked to new transmission rates of information and dialogue. We must surely be at the cusp of another. We are all learning to communicate in new ways. That includes world leaders, and institutions, and whole systems of process and exchange. It seems to me inevitable that more transformation will once again follow the communication age now ripe to shine. Visibility is increasing for better or worse. Behaviours are being revealed, worse or just seen. Old trusts are being challenged, new tensions amassing, and transient forces making upheavals of people, power, and influence ever more likely and less bound.

This week I was accepted into the fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacture, and Commerce. A 260 year old institution of great change. I am thrilled my application was accepted. I am researching change, and now find myself among 30,000 fellows intent on connecting, conversing, and collaborating with a global community of changemakers. Maybe you should consider joining too {details here}.

Fellows are committed to inspiring better ways of thinking, acting and delivering change. An integral part of the RSA in creating a better future, Fellows champion new ideas, drive social change, deliver practical solutions and support the RSA mission.

This year I also joined a think-tank called Acumen7. I have just become a contributor to a fantastic thought leadership app based service called Opiner. All of these connection points coming from regular engagement on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

The more we communicate, the more we can share in intended change. The further into the future we can be aiming. The more paying forward we can do. All in all, I think the communication revolution in the information age is going to work just fine. Not that we will necessarily be the ones to see it shine, but that’s just a question of time.

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.

Find my professional mask here: