Every pattern has a story to tell – Part 2

The title of this blog came from a quote about narrative from Linda Florence, a presenter at the Narrative in Practice symposium on Saturday. Today I will simply present a collection of other key quotes about narrative from all the presenters which I find fascinating in how much they overlap, intertwine and dare I say it, entangle with the way we make sense of narrative in KM and how in particular we explain the use of sensemaker. More information about each speaker and links to websites etc are available here.

Narrative is how we understand things as opposed to how they really are – Je Ahn & Maria Smith

Every concious act is filtered through some story, a pattern matching game, constructing through associations – memories, imagined futures and narratives. It is through these associations we make sense of the world. – Stephen P. Anderson

Narrative seems to be one of the main ways we conserve our personal and group identities, and how we get a picture of time. – Tricia Austin

Narrative creates communities from strangers – communities of experiences shared. – Scott Burnham

Narrative is pattern. When narrative patterns break, often its the break that most clearly reveals the patterns themselves. – Ian Curry

Narrative is a sequence of events interpretted by the storyteller and re-interpreted by the listener – Caf Fean

Everyone has a story to tell – Lucy Macnab

We sleep well when the audience gets the story to the point they care and want to take it somewhere we could not think of ourselves – Kelsey Snook & Melissa Mongiat

Narrative is the glue, the thread, the angle, the order… – Julia Pitts

Narrative is the ordering system that binds things together into a coherent experience – Matt Wade

Every pattern has a story to tell – Linda Florence

Narrative is the means by which we make sense of the world. Our understanding is affected by the story we bring with us to a situation. – Rakhi Rajana

It was Rakhi who really made me sit up and realise the entanglement between this world of design and the world of KM. I asked her afterwards what relation she was to Dave Snowden but he was an unknown unknown to her.

Rakhi specialises in human behaviour, especially cross cultural dialogues but her phrasing and explanations of what we KMers all know and love as cynefin and sensemaker were astounding.

She explained how our sensemaking consists essentially of an INPUT which we then PROCESS leading to a BEHAVIOUR REACTION. Our personal perpective then affects this PROCESSING. Such perspectives include our background, upbringing, education, principles. How we process the input then depends on our current rational, emotional and physical state.

In a parallel to the Steve Denning springboard story form, Rakhi told us of neurological research on neural coupling where the speaker and listener come together in the telling of a story. Hooked up to brain scanners we can see that the storyteller and listener both hear the words at being spoken at exactly the same time, and the same neurons fire in both brains at exactly the same time. That is until the listener starts to predict what is coming (the essential element in a springboard story) and the neurons of the listener start to fire ahead of the storyteller. (making them believe it was their own idea, and that they feel inspired into action).

Finally, saving the best till last (for me at least) Rakhi explained how the INPUTS construct our world and shape our behaviour. By means of pattern recognition, symbols and metaphors, we chunk and associate these INPUTS into a personal version of the story that makes sense. Then she explained that

We cannot understand the world outside of our understanding of the world

More inspiring design examples tomorrow in part 3


1 Comment

  1. This is very interesting, intriguing and leads to many different connections with our portraits of the world. We have visual and auditory narratives, we have narratives which are dmoinated by the past and narratives which are firmly in the present, and some may be around which are our future narratives. This all fits the idea that we are all multiples, our Multiplicity interacts with these narratives, our ‘understanding of the world’ can switch from one self to another, all very normal, but confusing for others on those cocasions where we see it happen live in front of us.
    And our narratives are not always for good, some narratives lead us into a world of hate of others, or hate of ourselves, some people manipulate others by using narrative, so we need to develop our sense of good judgement about the narratives we bring.
    Narratives contrast nicely with cold hard reductionist views of the world (I blame Descartes and Newton), but science and brain science are now dealing with a more accurate and appropriate view of simplicity, complexity, and complicity, aided by those engaged with visual and auditory narrative making! See Schlain’s great book, Art and Physics.

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