"...most blogs take an emotional position and then preach to the converted, as opposed to challenging people to think in a new way."
I may agree that many blogs are preachy and more bridge-building needs to occur - but I don't agree that rational analyses and articulate arguments alone leads to inquiring open minds - much less enthusiastic enrollment in your vision.
Tim Cahill got us thinking about FlowBe (Floe-be? Floughbie? [how about Flow/Be]), that inspired place we go when we're in a writing groove, and from which we bring back good stories. Tim talked about having a quest as a way to focus -- and to sell -- one's story, and reminded us that the tension between expectations and reality is often an important component of a good story. "Stories," Cahill explained, "are the organizing principles of our lives." Good to know; I had thought it was memes. Or Closets-R-Us. That's why Cahill is famous, and I'm not. :-) -- via write-up on this past weekend's travel writer's conference by Laurie King; subscribe to her Travel Writers newsletter at travelwriter at laurieking dot com (Bloggish site)
This weekend I stumble across Steve Denning's blog (in my search for portals, knowledge and social stuff) which contains advance excerpts from his next book (last book), A Leaders Guide to Storytelling, to be published by Jossey-Bass in 2005. Steve writes:
In 20th century organizations, analysis was pre-eminent as the only intellectually respectable form of organizational thought. Stories were seen as the stuff of myth and legend. Untrustworthy. Shallow. Insubstantial. Parasitic. Unreliable. Unscientific. Imprecise. Frivolous. Irrational. Entertaining someimtes, but fundamentally deceptive.
Managements tended to disparage and distance themselves from narrative, even though ironically they were unable to make sense of even their own world except through narrative. And they were largely unaware that all their hard-nosed, tough-minded, optimization and analysis rested on the soft foundation of narrative.
Moreover the heartlessness of the approach does little to endear it to the human beings who were meant not only to be persuaded by the analysis, but also to turn their lives upside down and inside out based on the results.
In organizations, therefore, narrative had a curiously surreptitious, almost illicit existence. It was allowed into organizations and business meetings in the guise of examples or anecdotes, but always on the strict condition that it remained in a subordinate status and submit to the dominance of the prevailing analytic logic. Where narrative was explicitly tolerated at all, it was kept on a tight leash, in case its protean force to appeal to the feelings of human beings and generate new goals and purposes should explode and break out into the open. The anxiety over losing control was ever-present.
Yet the effort to suppress narrative was never entirely successful. Narrative was never far away. It was ever present, albeit low-key and usually unrecognized. It was embodied in the unstated assumptions from which optimization proceeded – the underlying narrative of how the business works. And in practice, it played a central role in decision-making: although good business cases are developed through the use of numbers, they are usually approved on the basis of a story. So despite its lowly official status, narrative remained pervasive, and ready to fill whatever space it was allotted. This is hardly surprising, since narrative is universal in all cultures including our own, because this is how human beings think.
I sense that the way to bridge gulfs is a recipe with a dash of at least these ingredients: listening, stories, empathy, awareness, egolessness and - why not - throw in another shot of listening for good measure.