Metaphorically speaking…

The Last Bulb“When is a metaphor more than a metaphor?” Perhaps you can help us to decide when you have finished reading this post. The reason this question is there in the first place  is because one of our Coaching for Innovation Test Pilots, who has a strong professional interest in the sustainable use of our global resources, recently visited this website for the first time and took a closer look at the images we use.  Whilst she appreciated the content of the site, her attention was drawn to the use of incandescent light bulbs, clearly visible not just on the book cover but also used in the background imagery of the website (the field of light bulbs with the dragonfly). Now as we all know, incandescent light bulbs are technologically outdated, having been superseded by new innovations. They are gradually being phased out and replaced with more energy-efficient types; halogen bulbs, which are 30% more energy-efficient, and the CFL long-life bulbs, which are 80% more energy-efficient.

So here we have a dilemma. Both the publishers and the authors were driven by the imagery of the designs, looking for something attractive with eye-appeal as well as capitalising on what the light bulb represents in the context of innovation. For some, the type of light bulb used in the imagery can be interpreted as sending out a very wrong and indeed environmentally unfriendly message, especially when the word “innovation” is floating around.

Changes at this current time to the book cover will certainly not be possible but if and when we reach paperback or reprint (fingers crossed), we will be very happy to raise the matter with Palgrave Macmillan and look for a solution. However, now that we are aware of the issue, we wanted to bring it to the attention of our readers as well so that you will appreciate that we have not been driven by a need to ignore the innovations around lighting but have – without thinking in depth – allowed ourselves to be inspired just by the metaphors.

The feedback from our Test Pilot demonstrates that no matter how well you think you have thought things through, there are always new and different perspectives that we can learn from. What do you think?

By the way, if you would like more information about energy-efficient lighting then try this link .  If you haven’t already switched, then it is definitely time to do so!

And speaking of energy and innovation, one of the greatest books our energy-conscious Test Pilot has ever read on the subject is “My Inventions”  by Nikola Tesla. She says it is an inspirational read that we might perhaps wish to recommend to our blog readers – so here it is.  It is also going on our wish-list of books to read as well.




  1. Dear Maureen and Cristina, thank you for this blog post. As you say, it is extremely fascinating to see how innovations can or cannot change the metaphors and cultural coding in our life. Our culture is a living matter, but it has has a long memory. Some countries still use feet and horse forces as a measuring unit, there is a certain beauty about referring to these as they explain where the things come from. And it is equally fascinating to see new metaphors emerging such as “digital natives”. One is for sure – the use of metaphors is certainly an acid test for creativity, and an incentive for more of it!

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    • Hi Ivetta. We are pleased you like the post. In terms of communication, metaphors are very powerful and so can be very helpful indeed in driving our imaginative, creative power. We have to confess that we had to look up “digital native” – so as we were not born after the year 2,000 and have not grown up with digital technology, this make us “digital immigrants” (individuals born before the existence of digital technology and adopted it to some extent later in life).

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