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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  

Organiza+onal Renewal  

The King’s  Speech   (heroic)  

War stories,  e.g.  Saving  Pte.   Ryan  (sacrificial)     All  the  President’s  Men   (retribu+ve)  

Organiza+onal Decline  

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  

Organiza+onal Decline  

Tragic: sorrow,  pity,  awe     Sa+rical:  disdain,   concern  

Ironic: Anger    

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   •  “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