Narrative Intelligence

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Narrative Intelligence

Over the last few years, we’ve seen many people jump onto the ‘intelligence’ bandwagon, with varying levels of success (and substance). Of these Emotional Intelligence (or EQ), which has become part of business jargon globally, is probably the most well-known. Others such as spiritual intelligence and social intelligence haven’t really caught on (personally I feel the jury is still out on the business value offered by these concepts).

While reading Stephen Denning’s new book, ‘The secret language of leadership‘, I came across the interesting concept of narrative intelligence. I must admit that I haven’t really had time to reflect on it, but intuitively I feel that if applied appropriately, it could offer significant value to organisations.

Many decision makers privelage quantitative data to the extent that it impacts negatively on their organisations. In the complex and connected business environment we operate in, leaders have to realise that there are some things that cannot be empirically proven or accurately defined by figures and statistics. How can statistical data accurately reflect the culture of an organisation, or your customer’s real perception of your product? Narrative or stories on the other hand convey multiple layers of meaning, providing insights that statistics simply cannot offer.

I am definately not advocating that leaders ignore relevant facts and figures, as there are many charismatic salesmen out there offering ‘silver bullets’ with very little substance to back it up. What I am saying is that they need to become ‘narrative savvy’ and realise the value that narrative can offer.

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