Applied Narratology

Storywise Steve SeagerI help teams working on big technological and/or societal challenges develop powerful and persuasive strategic narratives.

I’ve done it across multiple fields such as technology, sustainability, architecture, circular economy, and  I employ a range of innovative techniques and approaches drawn from media theory, cognitive science, social practice theory, narratology and more.

Narratology is the study of narrative structure and the ways that these affect human perception. Narrative is a powerful tool for sense-making; perhaps the most powerful of all.

We manifest narratives on a personal level, and we internalise these heavily to help us form a clear sense of self.

We manifest narratives in our professional personas, in which we locate ourselves in relation to our career  ambition and industries in which we function.

Narratives also exist on a societal level, which are manifest  in ‘grander’ themes such as democracy, digitisation, and climate change, which touch everyone’s lives.

Becoming cognizant of these narratives in relation to the specific challenge a team is tackling helps open new strategic options; new ways of making sense of the challenge we are tackling. It yields insights that can reframe our challenge, and synthesise it into a more impactful and ‘higher’ level narrative so others can understand and truly embrace it as much as we do.

There is more. Communication as a discipline today is typically 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 most strategic communication today were developed in the 1970s. The most commonly used one is from the 1890s;
  • They way most management consulting agencies design change programs is ineffective;
  • Strategic communication still works only binary logics, as opposed to ternary; and
  • As a function, strategic comms still 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 actual 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  • Its practitioners rely upon terribly outdated storytelling/narrative models (the Hero’s Journey is one of the biggest culprits) unfitting for systems thinking or systemic/systems change needed today.

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.

Mail me on to find out more.