Friday, 8 August 2008

Corporate narratives

Some interesting stuff from my latest book. This is very much the sort of view I've been groping towards, especially the stuff about narratives making info more enjoyable to hold and easy to recall. Fascinating really.

Organization theorists have argued that a narrative or story is a common way of encoding information about what to do in an organisazation. If the punchline of the story is success or failure, a story is basically an instruction about how to behave. Narratives may be a superior encoding form from the point of view of human memory - if they are better remembered, they will not degrade as nmuch as other kinds of information when passed down from older workers to new ones. If it is fun to tell stories - they often involve humour - they may spread more rapidly and reliably than boring instructions.

And here's an interesting footnote to the para above:

Memory appears to be encoded into episodic memory (time-stamped events) and semantic memory (facts about the world and a distillation of episodic memories). Corporate narratives harness the power of episodic memory. Narratives often involve drama, humour, and emotion as well, which provides added "depth of processing" that enhances their memorability. From a neural point of view these may provide a kind of engineering redundancy because memory is then supported by multiple interconnected systems: Who did it? How did it feel? When did it happen? From the brain's point of view, a story may therefore be simultaneously stored in different locations which are associated, improving retrieval.

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