Information systems development (ISD) and innovation is a complex and challenging endeavor. In this paper we inquire into the process of ISD and innovation to shed light on the ambiguous nature of such processes. This was done in an interpretive study of 10 governmental ISD projects where 14 interviews with key persons were conducted. In addition 11 interviews with senior IT consultants were conducted. Based on this study we propose an analytical lens to understand ISD and innovation. This lens is based on a metaphor grounded in the empirical material. This metaphor,
, mediates a deeper understanding of ISD and innovation regarding three aspects of complexity: knowledge, culture and discourse, and time and space.