Metaphors and t^ethodotogies
Metaphors and Methodologies: Living Beyond the Systems Machine By: Julie E. Kendall School of Buslness-Camden Rutgers University Camden, New Jersey 08102 U.S.A. Kenneth E. Kendall School of Business-Camden Rutgers University Camden, New Jersey 08102 U.S.A.
phors because it limits the usefulness of this approach. Fourth, analysts should be adequately trained in a variety of systems development methodologies. Finally, analysts should use metaphorical analysis in conjunction with other approaches. Using the recommendations and findings for guidance, analysts can begin to develop the power of metaphorical analysis to better understand and communicate with users during the development process. Keywords: Systems analysis, systems design, IS development strategies, participative design, metaphors, socio-technical approach, user-analyst interaction ISRL Categories: FA, FA06, FA10, FD08
Metaphors are the cognitive tenses we use to make sense ofatt situations. Intimately interconnected with the way we think, metaphors are fundamental in shaping reality. Building on work about metaphors in organizational life, this paper examines the language of information systems users in 16 different organizations. The results confirm the existence of six main metaphors (journey, war, game, organism, society, and machine) and adds three metaphors that also emerged from the language of IS users (family, zoo, and jungle). Dramatistic analysis was used to reveal that seven of these principal metaphors are found in commonly used systems development methodologies. For example, the systems development life cycle draws upon the "game" metaphor, and structured methodologies and CASE tools are akin to the "machine" metaphor. Analysts who are aware of the existence of these metaphors (both in the user organization and within the methodologies themselves) will begin to see the systems development process in an entirely different light. Caution must be undertaken, however, when using this approach. First, analysts should lead the systems development process by selecting a methodology to match user metaphors, not the other way around. Seccond, analysts must see, rather than suppress, the paradoxical richness of metaphors. Third, analysts should not limit the number of metaUsing metaphors empowers the speaker and listener to transform reality from the pedestrian to the remarkable. Metaphors are like the magical incantations of old. By using words that people understand and believe in to make linkages with the new and unfamiliar, the speaker provides the ability to envision the world in a new way. Invoking a metaphor means opening the door for a listener to enter a subject in a different way. If we rejoice in the fact that the company's reputation is soaring like an eagle, or warn that an executive will go down with the ship, or worry aloud that the competition is lean and hungry, a tiger in the jungle, we have used metaphors to expand the understanding of the listener and have empowered them to see the world differently. There is true power behind metaphors, power to shape reality and structure the thoughts of the people who are caught up in a particular metaphor and its entailments (Duncan, 1968; Graber, 1976; Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). Metaphors are ubiquitous, but that should not diminish their importance. On the contrary, metaphors are so deeply embedded in our daily language that we become blind to the important ways in which they shape our thought and influence our behavior. This paper takes as its starting point the importance of metaphors in organizational life. From there it examines the literature on metaphors in organizations as well as actual metaphors that
MIS Quarterly/June 1993 149
Metapt)ors and Methodoiogies
information systems users employ. Following that, it examines nine main metaphors and the attributes that best define them. Different kinds of systems development...
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