What is in a word? A world. – Michael White
Narrative therapy engages with a client’s world through the dominant stories at play in their life story. These are often problem-saturated narratives and the purpose of narrative therapy is to identify alternative narratives that allow for thicker and richer descriptions of who we are. Central to our work is the application of narrative therapy principles to re:authoring the narratives of self, teams and organisations. This work is about shifting the power dynamics between problem stories that dominate who we are and how we interact and those stories that represent more humanised alternatives.
The emerging body of work that acknowledges the complexity of our world and provides novel approaches to dealing with that complexity is deeply influential in our thinking and work. A complexity world view acknowledges that there are ordered and unordered contexts in which we operate, that there are adaptive challenges as well as technical problems and that there are contextual management practices we can use to act, probe and make sense of the complexity.
The 9 Fundamental Human Needs
Researched and pioneered by the Chilean economist, Manfred Max-Need, Human Scale Development is an approach that identifies the fundamental needs of humans and how we can provide satisfiers for those needs. Initially applied to the world of international aid and development, we apply Human Scale Development in our work to understand how de:humanization in organisational settings is inhibiting or destroying our basic needs. Our view of a re:humanised world is where individuals, teams and organisations have re:authored their world such that the needs of subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, idleness, creation, identity and freedom are restored.
Key voice: Manfred Max-Neef
The stories of individuals are deeply connected to the stories of the organisation we’re a part of. And so the nature of our work has naturally moved us into the world of organisational development. An organisation is a unique ‘world’ and we’re passionate about how that world establishes itself and adapts in a complex world. We believe in the potential and promise of the organisation and eagerly promote the re:humanisation, health and effectiveness of our organisations and their collective narratives.
Ontology of Organisations
If a world is opened up through a word, then it is important that we understand the worlds we find ourselves authoring. The philosophy of Martin Heidegger, as promoted by Dominikus Heil, helps us understand that one of our fundamental characteristics as human beings is to create and participate in works that create worlds. Our organisations are works that create worlds. Our narratives are works that create worlds.
Participatory Narrative Analytics
Gathering and listening intently to stories is a research activity. Working with people in the re:authoring and re:humanising of personal and collective narratives is a participatory activity. The research world is divided between quantitative and qualitative approaches. We prefer to take a participatory approach to applied research that quantifies qualitative material by rooting our research in the stories told by respondents.
Key voice: Cynthia Kurtz