Ming the Mechanic:
Narrative and Action

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Narrative and Action2004-03-16 16:13
3 comments
by Flemming Funch

From Chris Corrigan, key ideas from a paper How stories affect human action in organisation:

  1. Organizations are not "things" but rather relational processes.

  2. Human beings use story to represent and understand the patterns of experience.

  3. Stories only represent partial versions of reality and so narrative interpretation is subject to power dynamics.

  4. Powerful storyteller can make people "captives" in the story; this is the process of mythmaking.

  5. "Organisations, in fact the 'organising via relating, exist in order to 'do something'. Hence somehow, the individuals in the organisation need to 'act'...if our identity is clear and we are actively interconnected in interdependent processes that when information comes available, action can emerge. The information sharing happens in interactive processes between individuals (either inside or outside the 'organisation')."

  6. "In the language of Gover (1996) 'our identities are being constitutes and reconstituted with their physical, cultural and historical contexts'. The roots of narratives and identity, he claims, 'merge, inextricably embedded and nurtured in the soil of human action'."

  7. Narratives that resonate with an individual's experience create meaningful and sustained emergent action.

  8. If people in organisations don't pay attention to the Individual Intention, the likelihood of the vortices of the narratives in those organisation resonating with the vortex of the Individual Intention is purely one of chance. It is due to individuals themselves to actively spend the time to understand other people’s Individual Intention.

  9. By consciously working on understanding Individual Intention and consciously work on fuzzifying the narrative the complex responsive process of interaction between the people will move to the attractor at the critical point. This can only happen in self-organised process of interactions where meaning can start to flow.
Important stuff about the deep connection between narrative and action. The story or myth about what is going on can sometimes integrate things and inspire action in a way that goes beyond what we easily can express consciously.


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