Why Narratives Matter: They Shape Understanding and Drive Behavior
Narratives shape how we perceive the world and how we behave. Whether conscious or subconscious, we hold beliefs and make assumptions that underpin our feelings and actions towards other people, the policies we support or oppose, and the products we buy.
Narratives have a profound impact on organizations seeking to address pressing public issues. Environmental advocates confront narratives about conservation and economic growth; human rights supporters face narratives about democratic freedom and geopolitical “reality”; and living wage advocates contend with narratives about reducing inequality and “killing” jobs.
The question for leaders is whether they simply operate within these entrenched narrative landscapes, or actively reshape them for strategic advantage. Leaders need to understand the narratives affecting their organizations and issues, and seek out pathways—rooted in analysis, not just intuition—to navigate them effectively. Then they can decide which narratives to align with, which to fight, which to ignore, or whether to create new ones the break open seemingly intractable debates.Download PDF