In contrast, the narrative builds upon the story and incorporates two attributes stories don't:
• 1) Narratives are open-ended, with no resolution because the end is yet to be determined, and
• 2) Narratives invite us all to participate in determining what the outcome will be.
They're participatory and engaging. Hagel went on to share examples of the inherent power of narratives, suggesting that many people throughout time have given their lives for narratives (examples he used were unifiers such as a US National narrative, or dividers such as a Marxist narrative). There's power in a narrative that stories can't replicate.
This got me thinking about how this might serve organizations looking to engage their employees in powerful and meaningful ways. Narratives can help us answer three important questions:
• 1) Why are we here?
• 2) What can we accomplish while we're here?
• 3) How should we connect with one another while we're here?
This is especially helpful in creating consensus and a compelling reason to engage. If you have a compelling, opportunity-based narrative, something along the lines of, "There are huge exciting rewards to be had out there," it aids the organization in adopting a positive mindset, coming together and collaborating to achieve those rewards and deliver the desired outcome.
Hagel’s discussion was among the most relevant and thoughtful I attended at this year’s SXSW Interactive and it builds upon the work we do and the issues we're seeing in organizations everyday. Not only does it invite us to envision new opportunities in what we do as professionals, but it also invites clients to envision new opportunities in how they communicate internally and drive change from within. I think the concept works because you're motivating a large group to take the initiative and rather than feel stressed or overwhelmed, they feel excited. And that’s something I think every organization can get behind.