A narrative enquiry approach to strategic planning in community organisations: A ritual of legacy in transition— Frances Hancock and David Epston


In this paper we explore the relevance and possible applications of narrative forms of enquiry to strategic planning in community organisations. How does one translate the ideas and practices of narrative enquiry, which have their genesis in the realm of family therapy, to the field of organisational development? Are there ‘family resemblances’ or do such practices need to be re-invented? In particular, what is a possible starting point for a narrative enquiry approach to strategic planning with community organisations? We propose that a narrative enquiry approach to strategic planning can rouse practitioners at all levels of the organisation to recall and pass on ‘stories that deeply matter’. Such storytelling implicates a ‘story-in-the-making’ in the form of a stirring and unfolding organisational legacy. Organisational practitioners not only remember that legacy into the present but also appraise how it might pass in transit into ‘a sought-after future’. Narrative enquiry may assist organisational practitioners (paid or voluntary, governance or staff) to inspirit their practice with a new-found sense of meaning, purpose and zeal for organisational mission. It may also help summon foresight to evolve a strategic direction and plan capable of guiding them, perhaps along ‘the road less travelled’ towards a soughtafter future.