Madhavi Ledalla

Madhavi Ledalla

Madhavi Ledalla is an Agile Coach based out of Hyderabad, India. Madhavi is a proponent of visualization and a firm believer of the saying – “A picture is worth a thousand words”. This led her to research, create and experiment with collaboration frameworks, an artful coaching technique of creating lightweight structures for engaging teams. 

She works with leadership & teams to guide them through transformation. She is a Speaker, Reviewer & Organizer in Regional and Global Agile conferences. She is the author of the book – “Retrospectives for Everyone.”

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As I was watering the plants in my garden one lazy Sunday morning, I found a few insects perched on some leaves. Initially, I ignored them, thinking they would disappear on their own. However, within a week, I saw that the whole plant was eaten up and it was almost about to perish.

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Story telling using metaphors has proven to be  instrumental in creating an impact along with  long lasting  memories. If you are keen to know more about metaphors then here is a post for you.

Analogies are based on stories and metaphors are built on these analogies. Try narrating personal encounters using metaphors and experience how the audience can relate to your stories.

Metaphors offer exceptional ways to communicate ideas naturally.  The crux lies in selecting an appropriate metaphor that resonates with your audience. Metaphors invoke creative part of  brain that is stimulated by visual illustrations.

Metaphorical thinking (Using plants, eels, birds for reflections!)

By Madhavi Ledalla

If you want your children to be smart, tell them stories. If you want them to be brilliant, tell them more stories.- Albert Einstein

Story telling using metaphors has proven to be  instrumental in creating an impact along with  long lasting  memories. If you are keen to know more about metaphors then here is a post for you.

 

Analogies are based on stories and metaphors are built on these analogies. Try narrating personal encounters using metaphors and experience how the audience can relate to your stories.

Metaphors offer exceptional ways to communicate ideas naturally.  The crux lies in selecting an appropriate metaphor that resonates with your audience. Metaphors invoke creative part of  brain that is stimulated by visual illustrations.

Fostering creative ideation using metaphors is called as metaphorical thinking and this way of stimulating the thinking process helps analyze and decode any complex situations at ease and brings a new perspective into the forefront. Reinforcement of this concept is that metaphors are being used in almost all social media promotions.

Due to the fact the human brains can relate to analogies and visual illustrations, metaphors prove to be very useful while facilitating conversations and foster an “outside the box” thinking. Using story telling as a medium through metaphors opens up new perspectives and helps the audience connect to the example and thus they will be able to visualize and paint a picture of the reality at ease.

I could see a significant improvement in the involvement levels of my team members when I used stories from my personal encounters related to natural things that happen around us like flying a kite, climbing a mountain, riding a bicycle etc. These metaphors helped me create a light weight structure to drive the conversations and led to the emergence of insightful outcomes.

The metaphor as a tool is a powerful hook for our imaginations to latch on to and is an effective way to trigger new behavior. Metaphors ease the cognitive strain of our brain and the brain responds effectively to visual elements as it finds easier to assimilate the new learning and thus the knowledge acquired stays far more firmly in the memory.

The benefits I see using these metaphors are-

 

  • Help in lateral thinking
  • Help describe our thought process better
  • Leads to greater engagement
  • Aid in connecting to the concepts in a more natural form
  • Help in explaining a complex problem effectively
  • Create enthusiasm and improves the listening skills as audience start connecting to the metaphors
  • Act as influential hooks for the writers and aids in unlocking the passive potential using their own imagination and thoughts

 

Discussion using metaphor is like storytelling and we all know that storytelling has the greatest impact, proof of this is that all of us cherish and remember our childhood stories.

In coaching conversations, it is believed that everyone is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. Being aware of how you’ve been doing and what you’re doing in any situation is vital for reflection. Innovation is the key and one needs to cultivate this mindset. So try using metaphors and quote real-life situations as you see fit while helping individuals and teams to reflect on their present. Visual metaphors can be used to spark the innovation capabilities as well. For example,  I use “setting the bird free from the cage” to discuss the current constraints the team has to explore the unlimited opportunities in front of them which is similar to a bird not being able to explore its world due to it being confined to the cage.

Here is an example of how I use “Set me Free” analogy

Sometimes, teams work across countries & continents. All individuals cannot travel across the globe to meet everyone in their team. This lack of personal interaction could be a constraint that is placing a roadblock in collaboration. How can you convert these constraints into opportunities?

Set me Free!

In one of my retrospective meetings, I described the situation of a bird that is confined to a cage and asked the team what could be done to let the bird explore the world. “Set it free! Let it fly,” came the prompt response.

I used that response and asked the team, “Do we think our team also has similar constraints because of which we cannot explore the limitless possibilities in front of us?” For a moment the team was silent, but they slowly opened up. This was an aha moment for me and I understood how well the team could relate to setting a bird free.

I repeatedly say that certain occurrences around us could connect to the team in their retrospectives. This method is especially useful for teams and leadership to debate on constraints they face and ways to convert these into opportunities.

 

Instructions

  • Draw the picture above (or print it out) on the whiteboard.
  • Describe the constraints the bird feels in a cage, ask the team how it feels when it is set free.
  • Ask the team to think of constraints they face in their teams that is limiting them from exploring the world of opportunities. Ask them to write it down on post-its and put it inside the cage.
  • Ask them about the opportunities they see in front of them they would like to use if set free from the constraints. Write these down on post-its and put it outside the cage.
  • Encourage the team to think through the limitations and provide leadership an insight into the constraints the team faces and how leadership support could help the team explore the world of possibilities. As part of this discussion, also ask them to think about what they can do to overcome a few of these constraints. In effect, this exercise should help the team arrive at what is their scope of control.

 

The “Set Me Free” metaphor can also be used in coaching conversations where you would like your client to think of the opportunities they have in front of them and also vent out the constraints they are surrounded by and then generate a discussion of how can they overcome the constrains and meet their goals.

Avoid overusing metaphors and use something that your audience can connect to. Remember a metaphor should aid in understanding and clarity. Use examples that readers can relate to and connect easily, thus I would recommend to use examples from nature as far as possible. Also please remember to consider cultural aspect while quoting metaphors as different cultures can perceive differently.

If you are interested in exploring metaphors, do read my book – “Retrospectives for Everyone”

Would be glad to hear your experiences of using metaphors!

 

© 2020 by Madhavi Ledalla

All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/3Ew-

 

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