Its not about right or wrong..

Posted by  Mark Schenk —February 10, 2006
Filed in Business storytelling

We collected an anecdote and used it in a document, and the document came to the attention of senior management. We were advised that the anecdote was inaccurate in some of its specifics, that it presented an overly negative picture and that there was a logical reason why someone might behave in the way described in the anecdote.

This highlights one of the key concepts about using business narrative techniques.  It is not whether the anecdote is right or wrong, unnecessarily negative or overly positive, or if it is illogical from a management perspective that is the issue.  The only issue is that the anecdote exists in the organisation.  It might change in the retelling, but the gist remains the same over time.  The anecdote doesn’t disappear because management thinks it is wrong.  The anecdote provides insights that can help the organisation change the next story…

Mark Schenk About  Mark Schenk

Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on:


  1. This is such a pertinant observation that I can relate to.
    But … what was the story in which the anecdote was embedded? Unless you can claim that narrative provides a neutral context, then what is the story of the story?

  2. One of the keys things to remember in traditional oral cultures is that people believe not in the myths as historical events, but in the truth of the myths.
    Learning to do this in a business world obsessed with external measureables requires a very skilled set of practices.

  3. Chris, when you say “the truth of the myth” do you mean the truth of the lesson or knowledge contained in the myth or the truth of the actual myth taking place?
    We are interested in the truth of the lessons or knowledge in the myth, story, anecdote but only when that ‘truth’ (because there are multiple truths) emerges from a volume of anecdotes in a social setting by the people the ‘truth’ will affect. That probably sounds a bit convoluted but I hope you get the gist of what I mean.

  4. That’s what I’m talking about Shawn…it’s the truth that is onveyed by the story, and not the actual story itself that matters. For that one needs to ultivate practies of wise listening and discernment…somthing which is often in short supply.

  5. Thanks Chris. I hear you.

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