For Impact


Creating analogy is one of the most important skillsets in the world.

Story | | Nick Fellers

Humans are unique in that we can we can have an innate ability (and urge) to infer abstract patterns (a.k.a. concepts) and move them from one domain and apply them to another. We do this through analogy.

This ability to gives rise to language, communication, and learning.

Analogies are also at the root of strong sales and leadership. Steve Jobs described the first Mac as a bicycle for the mind. Eisenhower framed the Vietnam conflict in terms of a ‘domino theory.’ The first locomotive was framed as an ‘iron horse.’

We advance concepts by building on existing concepts.

So when was the last time you remember making a study of analogy? Shouldn’t we be studying it constantly?

Start with this book: Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas. I’ve read some 50 books on analogies and metaphor. There are more comprehensive reads, but Shortcut offers a digestible and effective 101 for everyone.

I’m adding it to the required reading list for For Impact leaders.

NB: When we’re helping an organization build a funding message, we include a step in the process to construct analogy. I believe this needs to be a part of every strategic planning, leadership framing, and ‘sales prep’ process.