Monthly Archives: August 2010

Rhetoric of the “challenge”

In South Africa it is taboo to refer to “problems”. This is especially true if you are a representative of government.  “No, no, no Mr Interviewer … I would not say it is a problem. Rather we are faced with a challenge.”

People fear that they are in some way resigning themselves to the “un-solvability” of the problem if they utter the very word. Behind this fear lies a a fatalistic way of languaging the issue at hand. Instead, the rhetoric […]

Announcement: The Narrative Lab & World’s View Academy TweetChat on “#Leadership & Complexity”

The Narrative Lab in collaboration with World’s View Academy will be hosting a live TweetChat on an article written by Aiden Choles, founder of The Narrative Lab, on Overcoming Perplexity – Frames of Mind Required for Engaging with Complexity.

In the lead up to Dave Snowden’s visit to South Africa in October, the good folk at World’s View Academy asked Aiden Choles to write about this topic and to present it at their Organisation Development Cafe on 21st August.

Who should be joining in the discussion?

This is […]

Ethical dilemma – another scenario

Last night I wrote about a fictional ethical dilemma that panned out in a drama TV series. Today, while driving in the car and listening to talk radio, I came across a current, real-life scenario that challenges how we view ethics in practice. Again, if we are to understand the ethical landscape within our organisations we need ways in which we can monitor the perceptions, values and attitudes that staff have towards ethics.

Today’s ethical dilemma comes from a recent shooting […]

Complexity and the realm of psychology

The study of complexity has typically found a home within specific disciplines, such as science, philosophy, cognitive science, anthropology and to a lesser extent evolutionary psychology. This landscape intrigues me as you will rarely find a psychologist among a group of complexity thinkers and practitioners. You’ll find natural scientists and philosophers in the main. I think this is because the role of psychology in understanding complexity has not received much attention. Complexity is firmly an issue of psychology as […]

Ethical dilemma

In the wake of numerous price collusion cases brought to the Competition Commission in South Africa, the profile of ethics in organisations has become a focal point for policy makers and leaders alike. Since 1994 the King Committee has been developing guidelines for corporate governance in South Africa. The King 3 Report is the latest installment from the Committee that places a great emphasis on ethics. Our concern is that leaders will apply the prescripts of King 3 in a regimental […]

Levels of complexity

We often find that people use the word “complexity” in a range of settings. Most often it is used by your average person on the street to describe a situation or technology that escapes their understanding. And so, in this colloquial use you will hear people lament and say things like, “What can we do? It’s so complex.” A great analogy thatPaul Cilliers, the elder statesman of complexity in South Africa, uses is of his mother’s struggle with bank […]

Externalisation of a story

Something interesting happens when you ask someone to share an experience (narrative) AND then ask them to tell you what that story means. Often you’ll find that the interpretive layer that a storyteller will construct about their story covers more than what the story itself addresses. The danger of taking a story at face value is emphasized because of this dynamic.

Try and visualise what happens here …

Someone tells a story of an experience that they, or someone they know, […]

Article: Exploring the science of involved citizenship

The Water Research Commission have been a long standing client of ours. Typically investing in technical water research, the WRC have been venturing out more into social science research and our narrative methodology has been a nice fit in that strategy.

Our main project with the WRC is investigating the dynamics of stakeholder engagement. The study site is down in George, where we have a Masters student (Aner Vlok) assisting us. We recently ran a series of knowledge dissemination workshops […]

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