Yearly Archives: 2007


Great Motto

I’m currently reading Dan Brown’s novel Deception Point (not his best, but not a bad weekend read). I was struck by the motto of one of the characters - ‘Find the truth. Act on it’. My first thought was that this is such a simple statement, but with a lot of punch. If more leaders would adopt this as their personal ‘mission statement’ it would certainly have a great impact on the companies, countries, etc, that they’re supposed to be leading. Often, [...]

People leave leaders

"I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism." ~ Charles M. Schwab We often conduct narrative based culture audits in organisations, and more often than not, one of the key patterns we find is negativity around leaders who don't acknowledge the effort of their employees. In South Africa, where skills shortages and high staff turnover create headaches [...]

The narrative debate

I came across the following in one of Dave Snowden's articles that I haven't read for a while .. (it's quite long, so please bear with me!) "When people first become aware of the importance of narrative in organisational sense making, the often go through a stage when they think the best thing would be to tell stories in order to control the organisation or some issue.  This belief is a swamp across which consultants must guide clients safely, because [...]

Facilitation vs Hosting

We consider ourselves to be some pretty darn good facilitators here at The Narrative Lab. The word "facilitation" is a word that is easily understood by our clients and when we use it, we believe they understand what we're saying, and when they use it, we understand what they're saying. After reading ­Chris Corriga­n's­ excellent post this morning on the difference between facilitation and hosting, I'm beginning to wonder if we're amidst the evolution of the term facilitation from a philosophical and practical point of view. One [...]

By |November 21st, 2007|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |0 Comments

9 Principles of Safe-Fail Probes

In a fail-safe environment, the key objective is to prevent things going wrong.  It is a system that has been structured such that it cannot fail (or that the probability of such failure is extremely low) to accomplish its assigned mission. High levels of planning and predictability accompany any such initiatives.  Indeed, some contexts demand this kind of rigour - take for example the recent serious of "could-have-been-worse" incidents in the South African civil aviation ­ arena.  Every eventuality must be covered, and when [...]

By |November 13th, 2007|Categories: Complexity|Tags: |0 Comments

A Breakfast Conversation: Leadership & Decision Making

We are proud to announce the inaugural N­arrative Lab Breakfast Conversation to be held on Fri­day 30th November. On the back of Prof. Dave Snowden's recent Harvard Business Review article on leadership and decision making, we will be hosting a breakfast conversation that will cover: • Making Sense of a Complex World A showcase of our keynote presentation on Complexity & Narrative • Decision Making in a Complex world An exclusive remote presentation by Prof. David Snowden, co-author of the front page [...]

Another take on recruitment and talent

I recently came across this management principle of Dee Hock, the founder and former CEO of the VISA credit card association: "Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the [...]

By |November 8th, 2007|Categories: Talent|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Dynamic Culture Audits

Here's my argument: we need to move from methods of measuring organisation culture that are static, towards methods that allow for dynamic assessment. This argument comes out of experiences where static approaches have failed to provide relevant information during the life-cycle of a change management project. When embarking on an organisatinal intervention project, one can normally anticipate the inclusion of a "discovery" phase as the first of the project. This is where an "as-is" assessment/audit of ­the context in which [...]

Enabling leaders to make effective decisions

Dave Snowden, founder of Cognitive Edgeco-authored (with Mary Boone) the front pagearticle of the latest edition of the Harvard Business Review.  For those of us who've been involved in Dave's complexity and narrative work over the years, this is a key milestone - indicative of how our way of thinking is starting to make in-roads into mainstream thinking.   To quote Tom Stewart (HBR Editor), "Most leaders are told that it is important to be (or appear to be) decisive. Fair enough — but how is one [...]