Generative Metaphor Intervention: A New Approach for Working with Systems Divided by Conflict and Caught in Defensive Perception
Barrett, Frank J.
Cooperrider, David L.
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This article proposes that one way to help a group liberate itself from dysfunctional conflict and defensive routine is through the introduction of generative metaphor. By intervening at a tacit. indirect level of awareness, group members are able to generate fresh perceptions of one another, thereby allowing for the revitalization the social bond and a heightened collective will to act. After exploring insights into the recent literature on social cognition and selective perception, a case is presented in which generative metaphor was successfully used to help a dysfunctional group build (1) liberated aspirations and the development of hope, (2) decreased interpersonal conflict, (3) strategic conse.nsus aroundapositive vision for thefuture, (4) renewed collective-will to act, and (5) egalitarian language reflecting a new sense of unity and mutuality in the joint creation of the group's future. Stages of the generative metaphor intervention are discussed, and propositions are developed concerning those factors that will likely enhance the generative potential of metaphor as an agent/or group development and organizational change.
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