by Bill Dahl – All Rights Reserved 2011
The Questians – a generative metaphor
Listen….you can hear it everywhere. America is suffering through an unusually difficult era. The Economist says most people will acquire economic resources and influence through the use of brainpower.[i] Fareed Zakaria writes the 63% of Americans are of the opinion they cannot maintain their current standard of living. Zakaria says the can-do country has become convinced it can’t.[ii] He claims “the country seems unready for the kind of radical adaptation it needs.”[iii] Ariana Huffington opines, “Now, more than ever, we must mine the most under-utilized leadership resource available to us: ourselves.” [iv] Princeton’s Nobel Prize winning economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman flatly declares that “we’ve already seen the consequences of playing it safe, and waiting for recovery to happen all by itself: it’s landed us in what looks increasingly like a permanent state of stagnation and high unemployment. It’s time to admit that what we have now isn’t a recovery, and do whatever we can to change that situation.”[v] President Obama has said, “This nation wasn’t built on greed. It wasn’t built on reckless risk. It wasn’t built on short-term gains and short-sighted policies. It was forged on stronger stuff, by bold men and women who dared to invent something new or improve something old – who took big chances on big ideas, who believed that in America all things are possible.”[vi]
Needless to say, the pundits are pelting a torrent of opinions and perspectives defining the dimensions of the challenges America and Americans are currently muddling through. No, this writing is not going to be another treatise on the problems. I’m going to focus on what I firmly believe is a both a unique and fundamentally important dimension of the solution.
A generative metaphor – The Questians – provides the structure to integrate frames of reference and perspectives using a multi-disciplinary approach (including humor). A generative metaphor is typically characterized as the bridge to integrate frames of reference or perspectives from one domain to another. As one author says, “Creative leaps are fundamentally a navigation problem. Don’t waste time inventing – it’s out there somewhere; just find it and integrate it.”[vii] The Questians as a generative metaphor is relied upon as both the process and the framework to define prospective solutions to the current reality in a new, more constructive way – “an organic connection from what you can see to what you can’t see.”[viii]
Believe me…it’s personal. Read on.
[i] The Economist – January 22nd 2011 – A Special Report on Global Leaders, January 22nd 2011 , p. 10.
[ii] Zakaria, Fareed Restoring The American Dream, TIME Magazine, November 1, 2010, p. 30.
[iii] Zakaria, Fareed Are America’s Best Days Behind Us? TIME Magazine, March 3, 2011 – http://www.fareedzakaria.com/home/Articles/Entries/2011/3/3_Are_Americas_Best_Days_Behind_Us.html
[iv] Huffington, Ariana Third World America – How Our Politicians Are Abandoning The Middle Class And Betraying The American Dream, Crown Publishers New York, NY Copyright © 2010 by Arianna Huffington, p. 171
[v] Krugman, Paul The New York Times, August 26, 2010 This is Not a Recovery, an op-ed appeared in print on August 27, 2010, on page A21 of the New York edition.
[vi] President Barak Obama – Speech at the kick-off the Educate to Innovate campaign, November 23, 2009 http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/educate-innovate
[vii] Ogle, Richard Smart World – Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas – Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA USA. Copyright © 2007 Richard Ogle
[viii] Peterson, Eugene H. “Practice Resurrection,” Wm. B. Eerdsman Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge U.K. Copyright © 2010 by Eugene H. Peterson, p. 1.