Sports Alalogies LO16585

Bill Harris (
Fri, 16 Jan 1998 08:46:12 -0800 (PST)

Replying to LO16566 --

Jane wrote:

> My .02 cents about sports analogies: Having been in the corporate world
> quite a while, I hope never to hear another meaningless sports analogy
> offered. It is "exclusive" rather than "inclusive" and both alienates and

I often react similarly to sports analogies. I used to get very
frustrated as a kid when organizations (schools, churches) brought in
athletes as role models, because I didn't see them as role models for me
at all, and yet I did admire some of the values they were espousing. By
never bringing in (warning: buzz phrase coming) "knowledge workers" to
play that role model role, it seemed like the organizations were saying
that sort of work couldn't be interesting or inspiring or ... --- yet, at
the time, I really enjoyed reading about famous scientists or
mathematicians --- or musicians, too.

OTOH, I found someone's comment (I erased it, so I can't easily check the
attribution) about one difference between a sports team (and arts
organizations) and business being found in their ratios of preparation
time to "on-stage" time thought provoking. The concept wasn't foreign to
me, but I hadn't focused on it until I read the comment after having
received the suggestion from my manager recently that I keep a time log
for two months. I viewed that as a suggestion I improve my time
management, which I interpret as a focus on spending more time doing and
less time preparing to do. (I admit that, while I don't yet really
understand At's ideas on entropy, creativity and far from equilibrium
operation, I find that sounds related to what I do: I seem most effective
when I spend a not insignificant time assimilating insights from an
eclectic range of sources and then synthesizing my own views from them.)

So, what am I saying? Maybe I'm just suggesting that a diverse range of
analogies --- not just sports, not just arts, not just science, not just
... --- is good, because it increases the change that a particular message
will get through to someone for whom the other analogies haven't been
relevant. I can put up with any sort of analogy, if it doesn't dominate
the conversation forever. Most importantly, by reflecting on analogies
which are foreign to my normal thinking modes (something I'm more likely
to do when I see a mix of analogies), I sometimes learn by seeing things
in a new light.



Bill Harris                             Hewlett-Packard Co. 
R&D Engineering Processes               Lake Stevens Division 
domain:               M/S 330
phone: (425) 335-2200                   8600 Soper Hill Road
fax: (425) 335-2828                     Everett, WA 98205-1298 

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