Applied Narratology

Storywise Steve Seager

Surfacing assumptions, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours is key to tackling complex challenges.

I work with teams tackling complex (sometimes wicked) problems in education, knowledge and information, economic development architecture, arts and culture, digital media and more.

Narrative is a powerful tool for sense-making in complexity.

For example, identifying all the players and interactions in complex stakeholder groups is tough. And without fully understanding the relationships, motivations and behaviours, strategic options can be limited or weak.

By applying innovative techniques drawn from media theory, social practice theory and narratology I help teams surface insight that opens paths that otherwise would not have been recognised.

There’s more. Communication as a discipline today is incredibly weak. It has not yet thrown off the shackles of the same old linear cause-and-effect thinking from the industrial era. Just a few examples:

  • The last rigorous behavioural change models that underpin strategic communication were developed in the 1970s. The most commonly used one is from the 1890s;
  • Strategic communication works only binary logics, as opposed to ternary;
  • As a function it operates linearly as a production line, and not to Bayesian principles more fitting to our digital context;
  • With only a superficial connection to data or effect, today’s strategic communication is rarely contextual or adaptive in nature;
  • And its practitioners rely upon terribly outdated storytelling/narrative models (the Hero’s Journey is the biggest culprit) unfitting for systems thinking or systemic change.

So much more is both possible, and needed, if we are to solve today’s increasingly complex problems.

I can help.

Wicked Communication Principles for Problem-Framing 

  • The challenge is in always in the eye of the stakeholder
  • The solution lies in interpreting and shaping behaviours
  • Narrative is the oil between the cogs of challenge and solution.

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