I’ve recently had an issue with a story. Not as told in a book, but as a narrative for some work that was in progress. The story was exactly what everyone wanted to hear, was simple and compelling. It was also wrong, but I found the story resistant to any call for review using the ‘facts’ as I saw them.
The story had some powerful allies and resources into it’s survival, so it flourished.
The story grew from expectations, reinforced expectations and ultimately failed, and left people feeling let down. “What went wrong, this should have been easy?” seemed a familiar response.
There are some recent articles about the power of stories, and their ability to take on a life of their own, resistant to reality.
There is also a lot of ideas in Organisational management about the power of narratives in changing Organisational culture, much quite compelling.
But there is a darker side to this, and that is where stories cloud issues, silence competing narratives, and push agendas. Stories are essentially metaphors, and when used correctly have the power to influence far beyond what could be expected. I felt concerned reading an article on anecdote.com, about making strategy stick by tackling anti-stories, or stories that challenged what you were trying to achieve.
The article is interesting, it suggests tackling anti stories head on using humour, satire and self deprecation. All these things sound great, but they are all a way to make your narrative succeed. Not to answer the legitimate questions posed with the benefit of experience.
It is also stated that you can’t fight a story with a fact, only with a better story. But with many problematic situation that leaves us with the best storytellers holding all the cards. I’ve a bad feeling about how this one ends.
“The power of words, don’t take it for granted” The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, 1992.