The power of words, don’t take it for granted.

Photo on 12-11-2014 at 21.04I’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.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The power of words, don’t take it for granted.

  1. Mark Schenk

    Hi. Thanks for raising this issue. Just to clarify, the starting assumption for all our work at Anecdote (www.anecdote.com) is that the strategic story being communicated is valid and authentic. We walk away from organisations that try to manipulate inauthentically using narrative – the situation you seem to railing against in this post. If that is the case, we agree entirely.

    Like

    Reply
    1. make10louder Post author

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for the comment, I think you’ve correctly analysed my concern. Your website was one I found that offered tips for tacking anti-stories, and I think my position was ‘anti story’.
      Your approach to inauthenticity is commendable, but I fear that there are others who are more mercenary, and are using similar ideas to tackle legitimate criticism.

      This post was really born of a realisation that the position I held was quite naive, and that storytelling, storytellers, and those who control the medium that stories are told have real power.

      I guess I need to improve my narratives, not my facts.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s