Roger von Oech

Creative Think

What I Post About:

AddThis Feed Button

« Use Your "Forgettery" | Main | Interesting Links »


Valeria Maltoni


Wow, a linguistic post. I'll have to dive in right away and try not to get my hair wet. I'm sure you're more conscious of those watery ones given your passion.

As for the horticultural vein, it's low hanging fruit. Agriculture is still the number one industry in the US of A. I didn't know that, until I did a bit of research. Of course, we can also attribute those references to the rites of passage in the seasons and pagan practices, many of which were adopted by organized religions and disassociated from their origins.

By far the least helpful and most divisive metaphors we use at work are the ones that compare our actions to battle scenes in the trenches.

Tom Haskins

The interface team is on fire with brilliant ideas. I heard the the last build went up in flames. I got scorched when I mentioned the flame-out in the last meeting and you got burnt when you wrote the email about it last week. I keep getting flamed on the company blog about changing our design method. I heard the next project is already toast- burnt to a crisp. I cannot seem to light a fire under the librarian on this project. Her fire went out went she was switched to part time.

Ron Lusk

One interesting point, brought up by Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz, is whether the metaphors we use can affect (apparently) our thinking and emotions. What is the effect on us (and others) when we use financial terms to describe our relationships?

  • That marriage is bankrupt.
  • I value your friendship.
  • I'd like to invest more in our relationship….

Dave Kirby

Incidentally, the water model of finance is more than a metaphor - in the 1940s and 50s the UK treasury used a hydraulic computer to model the British economy. See for more information.

Matt Jaunich

Roger, this is yet another brilliant post. Perhaps a future post could be about metaphorical inspiration. An example that immediately comes to mind is "the desktop" for computer interfaces. Also, Will Wright, the mastermind behind Sim City and The Sims, had metaphorical inspiration for Sim City: "a train set meets gardening," and The Sims is "like a doll house." best, matt

Roger von Oech

I guess there are a lot of metaphor aficionados out there. Keep 'em coming!

Valeria: Thanks for "rooting" out that information.

Tom: You're highly flammable today!

Ron: I'd hope my love interest is compounded daily!

Dave: How well did it (the economy) perform then? Soggy or big waves of prosperity?

Matt: Thanks. Interesting insight by master Will!

Jodee Bock

I'm interested in the comparisons between time and money - you save time and save money; spend time and spend money; make time and make money; hoard time and hoard money - in fact, people will even say "time is money." But there is a huge distinction: if you lose money, you can always make more. But if you lose time, you can't regain it. Yet we seem to value money more than time. Maybe we just need a new perspective.


I love your idea- Water Model of Finance.Very nice way of looking at it.


Tom Haskins

Great post and comments! When we use metaphors unconsciously, the metaphor holds us captive. The workplace is not LIKE a prison, it IS a prison. We are limited by the self-imposed frame to only solve the problems inside "what is". We experience a "hardening of the categories" which precludes creativity. When we get playful with metaphors, we soften our categories, explore "what-if?" outside the literal frame and find creative possibilities. In keeping with playing around (with fire), here's another pervasive metaphor: the circus.

I was told to stop clowning around. It's a real circus in there. I'm working without a net with that new client. This is turning into a high wire act -- if we lose our balance, it's a long way to the ground. Who's the ringmaster of this escapade? She thinks she can get us to follow her commands by cracking the whip. I'm not jumping through his hoops unless the spotlight is on me. That job calls for a daredevil acrobat, not some stupid dog tricks. The only way to catch the next trapeze is to let go of this one.

Stephen Denny

Does your company have a liquidity crisis or is it awash in cash? (Make up your minds, already -- is water good or bad? Depends on whether you just re-discovered Diabolique at your video store recently... or maybe MacBeth...).

And why do we "fall" asleep? Is a 'fall into debt' a metaphorical (and biblical) fall from grace?

I could go on -- I have easel pads loaded with metaphors covering my walls right now (!) having just done two branding workshops in the last two weeks...

Valeria Maltoni

Jodee makes a great point here. I forgot where I read it, but I think it was Franklin who said: if you value life, then do not squander time, as time is what life is made of. Or something like that.

I think money is something people can get their hands on, while time is an abstract, a construct, and an agreed-upon convention and often understood only when looking back.

That's where we connect the dots, see the patterns, have memories, etc.


the way this concept was presented to me a few months ago went something like:

"the advantage of knowing nothing, is the possibility of knowing everything"

another version goes:

"the advantage of believing in nothing, is the possibility of believing in everything"

what we are talking about is a mental zero point of "no opinion"... the empty space through which "creative thought" or "inspiration" can come

a place of uncertainty-about, rather than certainty-about... a place where the question lingers, without any pre-accepted answer being present


sorry.. the above post from me belongs in "Use Your Forgettery".. not here splashing about in the water....

don't know how it happened

Greg Krauska

A typical year in the life of the aggressive salesperson:

Mount a campaign
Slam the phones
Blitz the territory
Beat down some doors
Knock their socks off
Crush the competition
Hammer out a quote
Strike a deal
Punch out the contract
Close the deal
Knock down the business
Kick some butt
Hit the target
Beat the quota
Grab some share
Destroy the competition
Nail the promotion

Given the way that salespeople often describe their craft, it is no wonder that customers seek a better way.

Roger von Oech

Greg: You tired me out!


I heard the bears were scrambling to cover their shorts today.

Ali Anani

Very interesting reading
The article stimulates me to write that it is not the use of water flow metaphor is not limited to finance only, but encompasses information as well.
The information flow reminds me of the water flow in the water barrel metaphor. As long as the water flow is within limit the water wheel rotates in an predictable manner. However; once the rate of flow of water exceeds a critical limit the water barrels rotate chaotically. I believe that information flow works analogously. If we are bombarded with a rapid flow of information the wheels of our minds start rotating chaotically and disorderly. We need at this point to self-organize to cope with the flow of information.


I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.
real estate Buderim

Rapidshare downloads

Incidentally, the water model of finance is more than a metaphor - in the 1940s and 50s the UK treasury used a hydraulic computer to model the British economy.

Oli Hille

What about a "flood of orders" or "my trade is under water".

Oli Hille

The comments to this entry are closed.