People often ask why "appreciative enquiry" is not our methodology of choice, and why so many negative stories, archetypes and values surface in our processes. One of the key arguments is that humans don't tend to learn from other people's success as it is very difficult to replicate, we can however learn much from other's mistakes as it tells us what to avoid. This great post by Shawn from Anecdote about the "non-crime hotline" serves to illustrate.
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 [...]
I've recently begun an experiment ... I've joined Twitter. Some have admonished me for being so late in joining the party, and others have responded with a quizzical look that says "is this the thing that geeks do?" A week into it and I have found it to be quite a natural extension to the status updates I do on Facebook, but with an edge. Twitter interests me because of the unstructured way in which people can broadcast thoughts, activities, links [...]
Why are we so afraid to admit to making a mistake? Failure, it seems, is universally seen as something to be avoided at all costs. In a recent project where we investigated safety practices in mining, one of the key issues we identified was the tendency to try to hide failure by shifting blame, not reporting near misses, and scape-goating. This, in an industry where learning from other's mistakes can save lives. I don't know about you, but I tend [...]
Broadly speaking, the heart of our business is about the gathering of stories (many stories) within organisations so that decision makers can better understand their organisation or problem they are facing. In a sense, we're story-aggregators. Online content aggregators like Afrigator do a great job of funneling African generated web content into one easy-to-use place - that's a semi-official description. But what I think aggregators like Afrigator do, is to funnel stories, and fragments of stories. The challenge with dealing with this many stories [...]
As part of a mining safety project we're currently involved in, we conducted interviews with several key industry stakeholders. During one of these interviews we were told the following story: A worker at a mine that has recently experienced a spate of fatal accidents told investigators that he knew the reason why there were so many accidents at this mine, and he also said that they would continue unless certain measures were taken. According to him, the "ancestors" were angry [...]
I heard today of a large South African corporate that underwent a transformation. At a certain point in its history a new top-dog was appointed, and he decided, as the top-dogs are wont to do, to bark and bite most of the existing senior leaders out. This "old guard", also being well known in the organization as great tellers of stories (and in some cases, tall ones, but not the matter), duly left, tails between their legs. Not long after, [...]