Behaviours, Social Practice and Narrative
This is where I tackle particularly complex, interdependent, even wicked strategy and communication problems through applying social practice and narratology.
If you are working in sustainability, social business, big data, architecture, design or systems thinking, this may well be of interest to you.
New approaches for new problems
Today’s problems need new approaches in both strategy and communication. When working on these types of problems I draw heavily on social practice theory and narratology.
Social practice theory
Social practice theory is an interdisciplinary field that looks at how people ‘interact’ with media, games, technology, and more, and the real world actions these interactions lead to.
The sharp end of social practice is on designing strategy for specific behavioural outcomes.
(More reading on social practice as applied to business below)
Social practice focuses on behaviours, but narratives are the pathways that offer a guiding path for those behaviours we wish to change.
Narratology is the study of these narratives and narrative structures, and the ways that these affect our perception.
Narrative shapes and forms are embedded deep within the workplace, in culture, art and music. They have been written about for years, but barely ever applied to today’s problems.
Unlocking and applying these narrative models gives us a more powerful strategic framework upon which to build our stories.
It helps both design more powerful strategy, and stronger communication appropriate to our increasingly complex world.
Three principles for designing strategy and communication today
If you want to design great strategy or communication today, here’s three things to bear in mind:
- Acknowledge that people have Agency
In almost every way you can think of, people have more freedom of choice than ever before. Today’s empowered consumers cannot be bullied by old mass strategies and tactics. They demand value. Or they will walk away. Because they can.
- Acknowledge that Networks drive Individuals
The rise of communities and networks has shifted decision-making towards a more collective model. Specific individuals play specific roles within specific groups. Strategy and communication should segment by behavioural roles within groups.
- Acknowledge that Interactions are Ritualised
‘Digital’ strategy is a misnomer at best. Online interactions become ritualised into things we do every day – in real-life. Effective strategy and communication today comes from a synthesis of proven insights from both on- and offline data.
A final word?
Social practice and narratology offer innovation and growth potentials complimentary to design or systems thinking approaches, by beginning and ending with behaviours and perception – which sit at the very heart of strategy and communication.
More reading on social practice applied to business
- Organisational communication and strategy
- Value creation in service logic
- Value creation and proposition in marketing theory
- Preferences in Fairtrade goods
- Dealing with dysfunctional customer behaviour in customer service
- Middle management and sense-making in corporate social initiatives