Eﬀec%ve Narra%ve Strategies in Poli%cs and Government Sandford Borins, Professor Rotman School of Management, Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School
Outline • Essen+als of public management stories • Four archetypal public management fables • Narra+ves in the 2011 federal elec+on campaign • Narra+ve for public servants
Essen+als of Public Management Stories • • • •
Stories have one or more protagonists Stories also concern ins+tu+ons Stuﬀ happens: things get beCer or worse A story has a narrator -‐-‐ omniscient (19th Century novels) -‐-‐ ﬁrst person: Holmes or Watson? -‐-‐ unreliable narrator -‐-‐ mul+ple narrators
Four Archetypal Fables Organiza+onal renewal Organiza+onal decline
Growth for protagonist Heroic
Decline for protagonist Sacriﬁcial Retribu+ve Tragic Sa+rical
Growth for Protagonist
Decline for Protagonist
The King’s Speech (heroic)
War stories, e.g. Saving Pte. Ryan (sacriﬁcial) All the President’s Men (retribu+ve)
Inside Job (ironic)
The Fog of War, re. Robert McNamara (tragic) Doctor Strangelove (sa+rical)
Audience Sen+ments Growth for Protagonist Decline for Protagonist Organiza+onal Renewal Heroic: inspired to emulate hero
Sacriﬁcial: (re)dedica+on to the cause Retribu+ve: sober sa+sfac+on
Tragic: sorrow, pity, awe Sa+rical: disdain, concern
2011 Elec+on Campaign Growth of Candidate
Decline of Candidate
Renewal for Canada
Harper: majority (more power) to deliver economic growth Layton (overcomes physical challenge)
Layton (ill health)
Decline for Canada
Igna+eﬀ (Conserva+ve story: “in it for me”) Duceppe, BQ (perks in OCawa mais rien pour le Quebec)
Narra+ve for Public Servants • Informa+on for government narra+ve of renewal speaking truth to power • Telling an organiza+on’s story => good news stories about its clients and/or its staﬀ, predic+ve stories in strategic plan, exculpatory stories or accusatory stories for auditors or commissions of inquiry • Telling your own story
Telling an Organiza+on’s Story 1 • Give Invest Support_ Trauma Emergency and Cri+cal Care.wmv • Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto, suburban member of University Health Network • Who is/are the hero(s)? • What does it tell us about the ins+tu+on’s capacity? • Who is the narrator? Possible alterna+ve narrators?
DNI Mike McConnell 2 min. history of US intelligence (transcript slide 1) • McConnell Cut Video.wmv • This is the context ….. The ﬁrst spymaster was George Washington. But the US public doesn’t trust or embrace spies. Let me go to World War 2. We weren’t ready. We ul+mately were breaking German and Japanese code. We put agents behind the lines. We served the na+on well. When that story is fully told, we probably shortened the war by 18 months to 2 years. We made a preCy vital contribu+on. Think Cold War. We were going to take the community apart. The best thing that ever happened to us was when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev banged on the podium and said “we will bury you.” We were in a struggle for na+onal survival. In a bipar+san eﬀort we created a community that could look inside the Soviet Union. We captured the technological advantage and the high ground. Think Space. We got up high so that we could look down and see and understand what was happening. We served the na+on’s policy-‐makers by keeping them suﬃciently informed about what was going on that they could make decisions that defeated the Soviet Union.
DNI Mike McConnell 2 min. history of US intelligence (transcript slide 2) • Fast forward again. • We disassembled the community. Remember, we don’t like spies, we don’t trust them, and they cost a lot of money. So we started to take the community apart. • We weren’t prepared for new threats in a new age. • Al Qaeda looked at us as a community and said “if we can get aCackers inside, they will be invisible because that’s how we organize ourselves.” And that’s what they did. • All the lessons learned said we must create a community that focuses on today’s threats, that must be innova+ve, integrated, and collabora+ve.
Telling an Organiza+on’s Story 2 • US intelligence community joint duty program presenta+on to HKS innova+on awards, Director Mike McConnell • What is surprising about the history? • What is the counter-‐narra+ve? • Where does the narra+ve lead?
Telling an Individual’s Story • Sampled bios of US and Canadian cabinet secretaries/ministers • Story told in reverse chronological order • Current mandate • Prior experience: prepara+on for mandate • Achievements, recogni+on • Unusual/dis+nc+ve steps in career • Formal educa+on • Family, recrea+on, human touch
Arne Duncan, US Scty of Ed., exemplary narra+ve (on www.ed.gov) • “Educa+on is the civil rights issue of our genera+on,” commitment to work under Obama’s leadership • CEO of Chicago Public Schools: “mandate to raise educa+onal standards and performance”: metrics • Board memberships: e.g. Harvard Overseer • Awards and dis+nc+ons • 1987-‐91: professional basketball in Australia: “worked with children who were wards of the state” • Captain of Harvard basketball team => “team oriented and highly disciplined work ethic” • Father prof. at U of Chicago, mother ran south side tutoring program he par+cipated in: “shaped his understanding of the challenges of urban educa+on”
Conclusion • • • •
Power of stories Story-‐telling is a powerful leadership skill Hear, read, analyze, learn from stories Governing Fables: Learning from Public Sector NarraCves