You may have been part of our Australian wide survey on attitudes and awareness of story and narrative approaches within organisations. One of the questions which we asked was for people to rate their awareness of positive and negative stories in organisational life.
Interestingly, the trend was that people rated that they were generally more aware of negative stories then positive ones with 24.1% of people saying they were aware to a considerable extent to positive stories, as opposed to 41.5% who claimed a similar awareness of negative stories.
I remember hearing Dave Snowden talk about the importance of negative stories and how they have served us. Evolutionarily speaking. The negative story gives us the opportunity to learn from someone’s experience. Often our own. He also mentioned that it is for this reason that negative stories will spread faster through an organisation than positive ones.
Something else which I find interesting about this trend is how powerful an approach like appreciative inquiry might be. If on the whole, most people are less aware of positive stories within their organisation than their negative counter parts, it seems to me that taking an Appreciative Inquiry, seeking out positive stories like those demonstrating “what it’s like when we’re at our best” could surely provide a break through way to how the organisation tackles ‘business as usual’. This may also be at the heart of the usefulness in being a positive deviant.
So, I wonder, what are you more aware of – positive or negative stories?
About Andrew Rixon
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