Thursday, May 10, 2007

will narrative techniques work in today's business world?

If you stop by here regularly, you may be aware that I've spent the past few months rediscovering my love of storytelling and exploring how it can be used as a business tool. In addition to numerous posts on the subject (a collection can be found here), I've worked with Shawn Callahan of Anecdote, the Australian company that is one of the pioneers in discovering and using an organization's stories to help it understand and improve its business.

I'm a believer in gathering and making sense of stories as a radically new way to harness the contributions of the entire employee base for the benefit of the company's learning, strategizing and management.

But there's one question I've made no progress in answering for myself. Can a service like this, which takes account of the opinion and experience of everyone in the company, work when seemingly every company is downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing or otherwise disrupting its relationship with its employees?

Can you do the narrative stuff while a company's going through that kind of change?

Well, outsourcing, downsizing, rightsizing, restructuring, etc., are not going away. It will take true leadership from the CEO (that is, it's a responsibility too important to hope that a subordinate takes it up) to create an environment that allows deep learning and knowledge sharing to go on in the midst of all the "-ings."

Succeed at that, Ms. CEO, and you'll have earned your pay package.