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Narrative Patterning : Alternate History and Fragmented Narrative

April 4, 2012  ·  By Zhen Goh

The use of narrative techniques in management can reveal both the patterns of an organisation, and are in turn the means by which it can be patterned. As noted by Snowden (2001), managers who introduce narrative as a tool for understanding cultural patterning have often succumbed to one of the temptations of using narrative as a tool to propogate ideal behaviours (2001). The introduction of predictable and scripted stories into an organisation becomes nothing more than another thinly-veiled version of tightly scripted “best practice” - instead of a genuine attempt to understand the organic culture of the organisation.

“Organisations must be aware that it is not enough to employ a journalist, scriptwriter, actor or even a traditional storyteller... their skills do not necessarily transfer into the organisational context intact. All too frequently, there may be resistance in the audience to being ‘told a story’... A factual story is fraught with peril: to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth requires both a prestigious feat of memory and a suspension of the normal human tendency to reinvent history...” (2001 (2005): 3)

In this vein, rather than try to control the process, it is more important to allow narrative to manifest in its many incarnations.

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