New Words. For new Growth.



Yes, of course you’re right. It’s almost the same: Narrative. Story. Some call Narrative a Meta-Story. Dosn’t seem to help much, though. Let’s keep it simple, stick to Story.* And tell stories in simple ways. Talk wishes. Desires. Dreams. Preferences. Threats. Tell how you’re dreaming up your project to flourish. To yield. Tell how you’re afraid (in case you are) your project might be sacked. Your company be swallowed. If you want your people take action. Decisively, at that. Leave your recesses. Stop being mysterious. Be specific. Absorbing. Thrilling. Shocking, if need be. Say something your people can learn by heart – and repeat, when alone or when together with their people. Tell them what elements you blend. Use language they can comprehend. ——— Call it Narratives, if you like, but actually we don’t need them. It’s Stories we need. It’s Ideas we need. And people burning to bring them across. So things can happen.

* The other day, we heard someone saying: The word isn’t »Bullshit« any longer, from now on it’s »Narrative«. Funny. And of course slightly exaggerated, as all things funny. But not altogether wrong. 

In storytelling, don't tell small. Talk big. Talk magic. Tell things moving, and moving things. Give worlds a shake, and watch them whirl in space, like snowflakes, of your command.

Storytelling, by the way, may not be so different from pure magic after all, it may work in a quite similar way: The magic formula »abracadabra« is said to stem from the ancient Aramaic language, meaning:

»I create by speaking«.

Whatever it is you want to tell: Change perspectives. Look at it as the world looks at it. Why? Because it's here where it's likely going to happen. And where your solutions will happen. Will have to work. To prove. To move things. As the poet says (Robert Frost, this time): »Earth's the right place for love. I don't know where it's likely go better.« Same thing with your stories – and your solutions.

Yes! Rightrightright! Story shapes organizational life:

// It is story, not structure, that shapes organizations — organizational life, organizational minds, and organizational action. It is story, not structure, that gives meaning to action by situating its underlying intentional states in an interpretive system. It does this by imposing the patterns inherent in the culture’s symbolic systems — its language and discourse modes, the forms of logical and narrative explication, and the patterns of mutually dependent communal life. //

Jerome Bruner (1915 – 2016)
American Psychologist

So simple, so good, so true, so do it, please:

// All leadership takes place through the communication of ideas to the minds of others. //

Charles Cooley (1864 – 1929)
American Sociologist

By the way – storytelling doesn't mean you have to invent each and every story by yourself. Once your core story is told, you also can select existing stories to illustrate what you intend to show. What's important in selecting stories?

// I tried […] to select stories […] because they struck me as lively, beautiful, believable, and, in the human news they brought, important. //

John Updike (1932 – 2009)
American Novelist, on how to put together a collection of stories

Last word – for the time being: What does it mean to tell a story?

// It means you have a way of rearranging the world to your satisfaction. //

Jonathan Coe (*1961)
British Novelist, on what it means to be a writer (= Storyteller!)

Very last word – and with it back to »Narrative«:

// Narrative ordering makes individual events comprehensible by identifying the whole to which they contribute. //

Donald E. Polkinghorne (1936 – 2018)
American Psychologist