Use All Observation Aspects to Think in Metaphors



If the devil is in the details, ignoring some of them at least temporarily could be the key to groundbreaking solutions. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by details to the extent that they hide creative opportunities.

When you Think in Metaphors, you mask some, if not most, of the details and shift the challenge into a completely different domain. Metaphors blur some details and enable you to see the grander scheme while highlighting a specific aspect of the subject you think about. When you Think in Metaphors unexpected Fusions are promoted because metaphors launch you into an entirely different playground with new elements to explore and Fuse.

Thinking in Metaphors is often a creative challenge by itself. An effective way to develop surprising metaphors is to experiment with different Observation Aspects and play with multiple metaphors based on each of them.

actionable steps

Use metaphors to temporarily mask some details and highlight certain aspects of the challenge or opportunity you are engaged with. Do the same for ingredients and insight you collect. Utilize the various Observation Aspects to come up with different metaphors.

Use the metaphors to find surprising connections and Fusions. Play with them and develop them before you bring the details back into the picture. Work with one metaphor at a time, but don’t settle for just one.

When you add back the details, try to maintain both the simplified view and the Fusion, even if the details seem to invalidate them. Use this opportunity to challenge the details and their applicability. Be open to the possibility that the definition or the scope of the challenge would be changed accordingly.


Example 1

When considering a new feature for a product, a metaphor can create surprising Fusions. Consider, for example, a keyboard. Metaphorically you can say, “a keyboard is like a piano.” Masking all the apparent differences might create an unexpected Fusion such as a tunable keyboard with keys you can adjust to the specific way you type (in terms of pressure, unintentional keystrokes, etc.).

further exploration

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