Storytelling survival guide

Posted by  Andrew Rixon —October 23, 2005
Filed in Business storytelling

The Japanese Ronald McDonaldHaving a casual surf on a sunday afternoon I came across this interesting Storytelling survival guide by David Boje. It seems a fairly comprehensive, if not provocative review of both theory and practice of storytelling in and of organisations. Provocative because he claims that the works of Snowden and Denning are naive. (I wonder what they think of that…)

I do agree with his concern of control in “not to put storytelling into some demarcated or caged territory or make stories told a subject of surveillance and managerialist control”.

(By the way, I found his work on the story of McDonalds interesting…keep an eye out for the gender changing Ronald McDonald story )

About  Andrew Rixon


  1. Dave Snowden says:

    Well you can have one from me. The article was brought to my attention and an email dialogue ensued with David. Three are several factual inaccuracies in his summary of the work and a general assumption that to work with managers makes one managerial (a common post-modernism and Boje is a post modernist) assumption. I also argued strongly (without rebuttal) that Theo’s approach, based on expert elicitation and interpretation of stories was far mor manipulative and managerial than our approach where anecdotal material is gathered in raw form and indexed by the people who tell it, without the need to an expert (let alone an ex McKinsey’s consultant) to tell them what I meant.
    The last I heard was that David ws going to revisit sources but will check where he is on that, and we may be about to jointly edit a new book on narrative together ……

  2. I have just read David’s survival guide and I totally agree with Dave Snowden’s comment above. There are many inaccuracies in the piece and it abounds with a mishmash of Cynefin ideas.
    For example there is a suggestion that Cynefin techniques rely on computerisation. In my time at the Cynefin Centre we rarely used any databases and focussed more on emersing people in their own stories as part of the sensemaking process.
    Also equating story circle with a knowledge mapping exercise is a mish mash of ideas. Story circles are like focus groups where people tell their experiences. You can use story circles to inform a knowledge mapping exercise.
    Saying the facilitator analyses the stories is another innaccuracy and in fact the opposite is true; the facilitator should not analyse the stories. The staff make sense of the stories and design there own ways to deal with the issues that emerge.

  3. Andrew Rixon says:

    I must be missing something, but what about the new improved Ronald McDonald? 🙂

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