Individual stories and organizational stories and how they provide a lens that can act as a catalyst for socially responsible action that creates positive social change

Presentation by: Dr. Justine Chinoperekweyi

We all have assumptions and biases about other people or organizations, but when we hear and listen to their stories we connect as people NOT remain grounded on what we fabricated about them.

Individual and organizational stories are powerful in shifting people’s mindsets and emotional sets. Parallel to that – stories enhance creation and co-creation.

Stories engage people at every level because they are a universal language that everyone can understand.
Engaging, NOT just their minds but their emotions, values and imaginations. Humans are emotional beings.
In context of the OD Network Conference theme: Evolving with Impact: The Future is Now

1. How do OD values actually live, both in OD, in the relationships of OD practitioners, as well as manifesting such within a client base? Though political, should OD manifest its own values within a client base?
2. How do OD values become alive in OD itself?

One dimension to answering these questions, revolves around Storytelling as a methodology, a tool or technique to make OD values live. Bearing in mind that, as OD practitioners or scholars, we make OD values live through our work with clients.

The importance of individual and organizational stories and how stories provide a lens for positive social change can be assessed at three levels:
• Preparation
• Dialogue and Reflection
• Manifestation

The ultimate goal being creation and making OD values alive!

Level 1: Dialogue & Reflection – Easy Part

Dialogue, reflection, openness, trust, building relationships, understanding and appreciating
Under the right conditions, Storytelling is about:
• Communication. Articulating a Business Case. Sharing the bigger picture. Making Complex Simple
• Helping people shift their own mindsets and emotional sets
• Creating shared values and understanding; common values that we can live by
• Passing knowledge, history, worldviews, morals, expectations, norms and values
• Building strong bonds
•Entertain, Inform and Instruct


Level 2: Then What, Manifestation

How do we create common values and figure out how to embed them into our actions, systems, processes, decision making, relationships, policies etc? We need to create congruency between the expected values (in the story) and the lived experiences.

Under the right conditions, Storytelling is about:
• Facilitating Culture shift – helping people establish new norms, ways of behaviour, common beliefs, common values that live
• Nurture and satisfy curiosity, imagination, enlightenment, creation. Getting people to think in strategic multiples. Stories become the foundation for creation – through mental and emotional okayness
• Addressing our individual uniqueness
• Reshaping and enhancing our perceptions and intelligence.

Storytelling is one way to make OD values live through connecting people – open, honest connection.

Some points on how stories provide a lens that can act as a catalyst for socially responsible action that creates positive social change:
1. Storyline has to be relevant, it should have meaning to others
2. Understanding that others have different thoughts, feelings, and experiences
3. Preparation and the process to get people tell a story is the most important thing
4. The environment set-up should create safe space for dialogue – open listening, reflection, allowing others to explore, understand and appreciate and move towards creation.
5. Becoming aware of our beliefs is a necessary step in storytelling.

Stories as a methodology:
• Help people reconstruct their own perspectives
• Remove cultural distance
• Empowering people
• Tapping into people’s emotions to inspire and motivate

As a tool:
• Spark curiosity enlightenment and imagination
• Enhance communal experience
• Bring simplification to a sea of complication
• Influence mindsets
• Advance OD values – democracy, community, social justice, ecological balance
• Sharpen people’s creativity and imagination, shape their behaviour, train their intellect and regulate their emotions

However, one story does not tell it all.

Presented at the Organization Development Network, 2021 Annual Conference on 3 June 2021 by Dr. Justine Chinoperekweyi. Email:

1 Comment

  1. BONTLE MARUMOLOA on September 17, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Thanks Dr Justine. Stories help remove elements of prejudice. They create safe spaces that help us to reshape our view of the world.

Leave a Comment