Alan Webber once said, “All depends on the quality of the conversation.” I agree. The way we talk to each other and about our work together, determines (to a high degree) the quality of that work (and our relationships).


For the past 150 years, the metaphors we’ve used in our organizations centered around machines.

For example,

I want to have a well running organization.

I want us to fire on all pistons.



There is some value to the metaphor, but it has some real downfalls. In the past 20 years, organizational and linguistic thinkers have suggested a number of alternative metaphors. The brain, the garden, the cosmos and the eco-system, to name a few.

The metaphors you use in your organization to describe the mission and the relationships will have a direct affect on the quality of work that is done. Simply, our words matter. The way we think about and talk about our teams, organizations and communities can raise the quality of our action. It’s that simple.


So what metaphors best describe your team or organizations? And, how can you use your words to elevate the vibe of your team and create an environment that’s flexible, productive, adaptive and innovative?