Get Common understanding with Metaphors

When we are trying to look in the crystal ball and create the strategy and the plan for a product or a business area, it’s hard to talk about time.
A good way for people to be engaged and unblock their minds is to work with metaphors.

In this article I will describe how we used a metaphor in a workshop with the management team and the product teams. The goal was to understand what the business wanted to achieve enabling the product team to focus on how to reach the desired market position. The outcome of this work helped us define the strategy to reach the goal and set up an Objective roadmap for our journey.  


The work was performed mainly via Workshop, interviews and talks. I decided to use cars as the metaphor since they are a good symbol for a journey and reaching new places. It also serves well as a metaphor since the car industry is under transformation with the switch to electric cars and a newly found emphasis on customer experience.

The Metaphor worked as a narrative for this work to create three time horizons;

  • today was represented by the gasoline car,
  • near future was represented by the hybrid car, and
  • nirvana, our future state, was represented by the fully electric car

Based on those horizons, I facilitated the teams to talk about what they saw in the different phases. The discussion could be kept away from dates, and instead it circled around expectations, steps to take and how to get towards the goal.

After the workshop

To summarize the work I collected all the input and created an Objective Roadmap.

Ex Objective Roadmap

I wrote a narrative describing the different states, where the goal was to describe the different metaphors in an easy and understandable way, but also adding feelings and an atmosphere. To strengthen the story even more we created a canvas with different pictures to emphasise the feelings even more for the different states. Where there where gaps in the narrative of the states we used Q&A to cover those.


Some of my take-aways from the work include the following

  • Even though we had different backgrounds and roles it was easy to get started and find a common goal
  • It was easy to understand the different states and relate to them. 
  • We switched focus from talking about time and limitation and instead we talked started talking about the metaphors on our focus to reach our goals
  • The feedback from the groups  I’ve worked with thought it was relaxed and not so much pressure on delivery
  • Alignment between stakeholders was quite easy, instead of having discussions like ”what do you think will happen in 2025” and ”i think this will happen in 2026”
  • Great visualisation
  • A good way to visualise the wishes vs the team’s capacity