The use of analogies is so common that we pay no attention most time if they are correct, useful, or even appropriate. Remember the cockamamie garden analogy, where gardens are best left to emerge by themselves. Don't know about your part of the work, but that's called a weed patch here in Northern Colorado.
A common one that I've heard for the past 2 weeks on a Balanced Scorecard engagement for an IT organization is fire fighting.
We spend all our time fighting fires, and don't have any time left for this IT Strategy stuff.
We can't really stop for a strategy process because we spend all out time fighting fires.
You've heard this, you've probably even said it.
But what do fire fighters do most of the time? By most of the time I mean the majority of the time?
They Don't Fight Fires
If they did, they'd be exhausted in a month, have broken all their equipment, run through all their consumables, and pretty much wrecked the fire department.
No fire fighters PREVENT fires from happening. That seek to remove the source of fires. It's called Fire Prevention.
So what's the equivalent of Fire Prevention in the IT project management world? Well it starts with realizing that running around putting out fires is a REALLY bad strategy for running an IT department, in exactly the same way it is for a City Fire Department.
The Fire Chief Boulder Fire and Rescue would be appalled when the station Captain reported that there was a fire everyday that was preventable, but we decided its was better just to fight the fires, than figure out a way to prevent the fires from starting. Imagine using the excuse for the Fire Chief that you have heard used for IT - man we're so busy putting out fires, we can't possibly stop to figure out how to not work so hard.
Think again, your job as a PM, developer, operations person is to prevent fires from happening. I came to this by reading the ITIL Foundation V3 guide. I'm not at my core an ITIL guy, but it should be mandatory reading for anyone working in IT. So when you hear the phrase we're fire fighting, you should break out in the loudest laugh you can conjure up. Then ask when is the Fire Station going to burn down, because is you keep doing what you are doing you are next.