Monthly Archives: April 2009


Ogilvy’s russian dolls

I came across this little anecdote in and article in the latest edition of Strategy + Business.  It illustrates how savvy leaders know how to use metaphors and symbols to get their point across effectively and strengthen company culture.  David Ogilvy is the founder ofOgilvy & Mather, one of the most successful advertising agencies in the world. "... it wasn’t just what David Ogilvy said that made his principles special; it was also how he said it. ... Ogilvy communicated his principles [...]

How we see the problem

A father and son were travelling home from a rugby game late one night in the 1970s when the dad pulled the car onto the shoulder of the rural, desolate highway and asked his son to take over the driving. As hard as it was for him to admit, the father said his eyesight was failing him and he didn't think it safe for him to stay behind the wheel. So the son took over, and it didn't take him [...]

An ecology of present possibilities

This post is largely inspired by a comprehensive blog entry by Dave Snowden on a new approach to Scenario Planning.   Much of what he says is key to the thinking behind our new Thrive! product. Seneca said: "The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty" In [...]

You are not who you were 2 years ago: organisational identity

I remember watching a TED video of Richard Dawkins (I think) who said that the cells in our body are always replacing themselves, so much so that after about 18 years, our body has an entirely new set of cells. How's that for a thought: I am not who I was 18 years ago!But surely I am? I am still Aiden, am I not? This is a big question for us as humans, but what about for the organisations and companies we lead [...]

Our narrative approach/model

Over the last few months we've been refining the way we approach narrative in organisations and have found something that now works for us, and is pretty simple to understand. Head on over to our Narrative Model page to see the model in full details.   Credit must be given to Shaun Callahan from Anecdote who originally developed a very similar model that we've tweaked.

Self-indulgent descriptions

Here are some descriptions we often use when introducing ourselves and what The Narrative Lab does: Making sure you ask the right questions about your problem Why solve a problem the very same way it was created The common ground between complex problems and simple solutions Different approach, and yet strangely familiar Helping you gather the stories you really need to know about Harnessing the power of story-telling and story-gathering

Thrive! The role of metaphors … Part 2

In the first Part of this series, Sonja spoke of how the current economic malaise is prompting us to engage with a new management paradigm. She also surfaced a metaphor (moving from being a builder to gardener) as an analogy for what we believe the new paradigm should be. It might have struck as a rather simple analogy, but we believe metaphors have a greater influence on our attitudes, values and behaviours than we give them credit for. Metaphors uncover [...]

Big and small “s” stories

One of the questions Sonja and I often get when introducing ourselves is this, "Why use the word narrative? We find the word "story" easier to understand." In response we've said that the word "narrative" has more gravitas to it and communicates that we're more than just story-tellers. However, of late we've begun to use a way of describing narrative that Anecdote use: the difference between big "S" story and small "s" story. Here's what I mean ... Big "S" stories are the stories we're accustomed [...]

Thrive! The new leadership paradigm – from builder to gardener … Part 1

Turbulence. We know the feeling: it starts out with a little shaking. The captain switches on the seatbelt sign, and just as you’re about to click the belt buckle in place, the plane hits an air pocket and it feels as if the bottom of the plane is going to fall out. Then, a few seconds later, the plane stabilizes and your stomach returns to its usual anatomical position. ... This experience of turbulence is akin to what we are [...]

Case studies and fables

After two weeks of spending all my time on preparing a BIG tender sumbission, I came across a link to this HBR article on Dave Snowden's blog this morning. We believe that businesses have become addicted to prescription - mindlessly copying the latest best practice or case study. Very seldom do we come across leaders who are trailblazers, preferring to be the firs ones to venture into a new area.  Usually we're asked the question: So, where has this been done before?  Everyone seems [...]

By |April 14th, 2009|Categories: Complexity|Tags: , |0 Comments