Talking About Stories


It was great to watch Cynthia Kurtz talk with Lex Hoogduin at GloComNet about stories, complexity, and Participatory Narrative Inquiry (PNI). It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in a narrative project, but Cynthia echos my own experience working with stories. Asking people about their personal experiences, as opposed to their opinions, makes a huge difference to the outcome.…  
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The Generalised Specialist →


On the Farnam Street blog:

While it’s not very glamorous to take career advice from a raccoon or a panda, we can learn something from them about the dilemmas we face. Do we want to be like a raccoon, able to survive anywhere, although never maximizing our potential in a single area? Or like a panda, unstoppable in the right context, but struggling in an inappropriate one?

A well researched and thoughtful piece about the generalist v specialist dilemma. Confession: I’m still yet to find a reasonable answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” However, I worry about it less and less. I figure that not knowing is a part of the voyage of intellectual and emotional discovery.

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Complexity Is Uncomfortable to Any Organisation →


Dave Snowden, writes:

Now complexity is uncomfortable to any organisation (which in fact means more or less all organisations) as it challenges several key assumptions. In particular the assumption that you get set clear objectives for a desired future state, that things that work once will repeat as is, that cases from the past provide recipes for future action and so on. In a complex system we:

1 - start journeys with a general sense of direction but without precise targets.
2 - have to be comfortable with what is inherent and unavoidable uncertainty
3 - need real time feedback, with the flexibility to respond and change quickly
4 - can’t avoid some understanding of theory, which has to act as a enabling constraint on action
5 - are ethically responsible for the unintended consequence of any intervention

Some interesting thoughts from Dave, and a nice reminder of some of the key principles for working in complexity.

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We Must Relearn The Art Of Dialogue →

Eillie Anzilotti, writing for Fast Company:

Our use of screen-based technologies—smartphones, tablets replacing waiters at restaurants, and so on—is wrecking our ability to interact with actual humans. To listen.

Others with shared concerns about how a world shaped by technology is affecting our ability to really listen to each other.

Interestingly, IDEO has designed a new, interactive form of discussing difficult and complex topics called Creative Tensions. This looks very similar to Sociometry, which is a useful method where participants express their opinion through their position in the space.

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Finding Our Way to True Belonging →

Brené Brown, writes:

There’s much more to true belonging. Being ourselves means sometimes having to find the courage to stand alone, totally alone. It’s not something we achieve or accomplish with others; it’s something we carry in our heart. Once we belong thoroughly to ourselves and believe thoroughly in ourselves, true belonging is ours.

Another great piece on’s Ideas blog.

This seems counter-intuitive, but also makes a lot of sense. I’m fascinated by the idea that instead of transcending suffering, we must instead, move towards turbulence and doubt – what Pema Chödrön calls the journey of the warrior-bhodisattva 1.

  1. Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (Boulder:Shambhala 2003), 1. 

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