Metaphor overkill

31 May, 2007
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Why is it that so many people in the IT industry explain themselves using metaphors? The more manager you become the more metaphors people tend to use. I have heard them all the past years: From trains leaving the stations, to riding in the wrong cars, shaking the porcelain closet, building houses (sometimes complete cities), playing with lego, making food, flying birds and so on (feel free to post your favorite metaphor)….
Of course metaphors have their use, but please don’t use metaphors by default. Interestingly enough according to Dave Thomas at QCon (unfortunately I missed this talk) especially highly intelligent people tend to explain themselves using metaphors. Keep that in mind the next time someone uses a metaphor to explain themselves to you…
So I say only use metaphors when you are not understood. Instead of saying that the train is almost at the station, just say the deadline is coming close. Don’t say how many miles per hour you’d expect us to program (which is of course silly unless the team is actually in a train), but say I thought you would go twice as fast. People can understand that. Try us!


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