Organizational Narrative: Criminals and Sleuths

One popular post on this blog covers the villains, victims and heroes in organizational storytelling. This triad of characters has driven stories for thousands of years. Starting in the 1800s with authors such as Edgar Allen Poe and Wilkie Collins, writers focused on the theme of crime using a specialized triad of characters: criminal, victim, and sleuth. You can use these roles in your organizational storytelling.

Are You a Crime Sleuth, Victim, or Outlaw?

Is your organization crime sleuths, trying to find the criminal and solve the crime? In the public and social spheres, regulatory and compliance organizations often act as sleuths. Public research organizations focused on health, education, poverty and other issues also sleuth out metaphorical criminals.

Or, does your organization represent the victim, working to heal and restore harmony?  Service providers such as health clinics, food banks and shelters protect those who are wronged and work alongside sleuths to solve crimes.

Some organizations might even take on the righteous outlaw role. Think Greenpeace or Wikileaks. These are not your typical public and social sector organizations, yet they play a role in our public space and debate, and thus have their story to tell as well.

In storytelling, a theme brings along additional connotations. What does the theme of crime bring to your storytelling?

  • Sense of right, wrong and justice
  • A weighing of evidence
  • The method of investigation
  • The hearing of witnesses

These are all aspects that you can incorporate into your organization’s story.

In using this theme, the crime you interact with needs to be directly related to the mission and work of your organization. Thus, most of the time your story will be that of a crime sleuth in an ongoing investigation, with a criminal not yet caught and a crime not yet fully solved. This sense of action gives your story immediacy and engages the curiosity of the audience to find the clues and solve the case.

Do you need help in developing and applying your organizational narrative? Check out my services.

(Image courtesy of Flickr through Creative Commons License)

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