Monthly Archives: May 2009

Narrative at 29th OD World Congress

We've been accepted to present, alongside some sharp thinkers, our approach to Narrative Change Management at the 29th Organisational DevelopmentWorld Congress. The Congress will take place on 20th and 21st July 2009 in Pretoria (info here). In our presentation, we'll profile how a narrative approach to change management can be applied within change programmes to improve engagement, resilience and awareness. In particular, we'll be looking at a case study of how we developed a Change Story for the Turnaround Strategy within theDepartment of Home Affairs. Hope to see you there.

Swarm theory – does it apply to humans?

"If you're looking for a role model in a world of complexity, you could do worse than to imitate a bee." This is the end quote from an engaging National Geographic article on Swarm Theory. As the quote suggests, there's much to learn from the swarming habits of insects in terms of finding novel, effective and efficient solutions to complex problems. The technical term for this process is "self-organisation" and the encouragement is for managers to, in the face of complex problems, implement a self-organising management [...]

Xerox: stories important in change

The turnaround of Xerox is an important case study in today's global economic situation. Here's a Fast Company article that outlines how important stories are in this context. The article also shows how litte "s" stories becomes Big "S" stories: Storytelling is hugely important. At our town meetings, the most frequently asked question wasn't whether we'd survive, but what we would look like when we did. I got great advice: Write a story. We wrote a Wall Street Journal article, because they [...]

Digital workplace readiness survey

We're involved in the planning phases of a project looking at redefining ICT education in South Africa in order to increase the "digital workplace readiness" of people entering the job market. We'd like to get an initial idea of what the real issues are, and also what the perceptions are in various industries regarding what "digital workplace readiness" really is. We've created a short survey to gather stories about your experiences around this topic, and we'd really appreciate it if  you could [...]

In our mine safety research one of the key issues is determining the actual root causesof unsafe behavior.  These are usually deeply rooted in entrenched belief systems and metaphors. This story, that I found on Bob Sutton's blog, illustrates how determining what is actually driving behaviour (in this case workplace theft), can lead to astoundingly simple (and cheap) solutions.  In fact, as you'll see in the story, the more expensive solutions (installing cameras) made the situation worse ... "This 2001 study was done [...]

By |May 15th, 2009|Categories: Culture, Narrative|Tags: , |0 Comments

Art from mass collaboration

I found out about artist Aaron Koblin's use of Amazon's Mechanical Turk to use mass consultation to create collaborative art in a blog entry by John Winsor. It's quite a shift in paradigm to what we normally see as the artistic creation process. Winsor comments that "Art always seems to lead the way in paradigm shifts. What's next in this evolving landscape." James Surowiecki's book, "The Wisdom of Crowds"; related some interesting stories about leveraging the wisdom that exists in large numbers of independent people....  It can [...]

Great research quote

In Gerald Zaltman's new book,Marketing Metaphoria he writes: "There are no easy solutions, just prescriptions for failure: When an answer immediately emerges from the data, the researchers probably rigged it into the study.  That is, their confirmatory research mind-set unwittingly designed the study to arrive at the apparent solution.  Beware of obvious conclusions." This is why we are such strong proponents of pre-hypothesis research.

Using narrative in the recruitment process – part 1

An area where we believe narrative in its various forms can add a lot of value is recruitment.  To illustrate: In a recent engagement with a global consultancy around their internal talent management issues and processes, a key theme emerged around finding more appropriate ways to recruit the right type of person.  This company (and from past experience all large consulting houses) has a strong culture of having to "fake it till you make it", new recruits typically had to fend for [...]