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The Organizational Narrative: Seeing The Hidden Strings of Influence.

Marwan Aljahani

Jun. 25, 2021

“ The stories we tell literally change the world, if you want to change the world then you need to change your story. this truth applies both to individuals and institutions” — Michael Margolis

The narrative of the organization is undoubtedly on of the most fundamental aspects of what an organization is. The way people engage with the organization on a conscious and unconscious level based on the stories they repeat and the mental image they’ve created for the organization plays a determining role in the success of this organization.

Organizational storytelling means recognizing the role of the narrative in how people communicate and behave within the organization. Michael Müller who is a one of the leading experts in the field of narrative management consulting and and director of the Institute for Applied Narratology at Stuttgart Media University has done research that spans across 20 years of which he recognized that people learn more about an organization during a coffee break than they learn in the company profile handbook!

Across the paradigm of Michael’s experimentations with organizational narrative management, there crystallized an understanding that the leadership style within an organization, its communication and change management can be supported to be the core of the organization through managing the narrative. This literature is widely supported by other fields as well, developmental psychologists recognized that the identity is crafted and created through the stories we shape around it. This is no less true for organizations than it is for humans.

In speaking about the corporate identity, past present and future all are parts of the story of the organization. Almost like a thread that is shaped from the creation of the organization to the present moment that tells us a story about not what, but who the organization is at its core.

Now comes the interesting question of how does the narrative support and mobilize ambitious endeavours like organizational restructuring and transformations?

in communicating the organizational restructuring initiatives, the organization needs to carefully craft the story and motives for why the restructuring needs to take place, what are the chain of events the led to this and how the organization will benefit from this move. in creating a shared understanding amongst the people of the organization. people can rally around a shared sense of community through this restructuring.

2. Engage and Co-Create The Narrative With The People Of The Organization.

through creating platforms and open spaces for honest and authentic conversations to happen, like workshops and focus groups. the organization can feel the ownership over the narrative and see the part they play in creating its mental image. by moving the parts of the organization to realize where they stand in the current narrative and where they need to go. change can — truly — start to happen.