Re: Storytelling LO1063
Thu, 4 May 1995 12:02:13 -0700

Replying to LO1039, JWHunt's question about the difference between
storytelling and real world case studies:

Let me try a few things. First, my perhaps-over-generalized view of case
studies is of a narrative with a single point of view. Art Kleiner, in
LO1035, referred to "jointly-told tales" -- Rashomon-like views of the
same incident/person/etc. My notion of storytelling *as history* is more
like Kleiner's, although I would like to see what would happen if these
"jointly-told tales" were truly collaborative in their creation: What
would the final product look like? What would our picture of Edie
Sedgwick (or Robert Kennedy, the subject of another such book by Jean
Stein and George Plimpton) be if the speakers had sat (virtually or
otherwise) in the same room, offering up their "version" of the story.

Second, I'm intrigued by the idea of storytelling as a way of creating a
future or coming to grips with the present. Even in the short time this
thread has been on the list, many folks have referred to scenarios --
which are definitely related. I'm thinking, however, of storytelling the
way standard rhetoric thinks of *invention* -- except now done
collectively. A couple of days ago, Gerry Starnes, in LO984, related his
observation that, "when someone is creating an analogy (parable or story),
the listener often begins to add his/her own
the analogy...enlarging the concept often beyond the original, and
sometimes linking the new creation with other 'stories' as well.
Sometimes the concept becomes a conceptual anthology of related stories!"
Through a process of *invented accretion* (I term I just created, as it
were, and which may have absolutely no resonance outside the precincts of
my own brain!), the original concept is enriched, elaborated upon, and --
perhaps most important -- mutually agreed to. I believe that one can
readily begin to see connections between this idea and, e.g., the process
of delineating organizational purpose, particularly if the folks doing the
delineating include external customers as well as internal constituents.

More anon, I hope.
Ron Mallis
12 Chestnut Street
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: 617-723-8362