TRUE STORYTELLING AS CONSULTATION TOOL - Slides David Boje & Jens Larsen 'Old Friends Industries' Presentation to 65 public executives and managers on Wed May 16, 2018 Copenhagen

True Storytelling Consultaiton approach- Old Friends Industries May 15 2018


A Discourse Activist Perspective on Organizational Storytelling


An international seminar with David Boje, Frank Worthington,
Teppo Sintonen and more

Aalborg University, Department of Business and Management, Fibigerstræde 2,
Tuesday 8 May 10-17, Wednesday 9 May 9-12.


Professor Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen, Aalborg University, Department of Business Fibigerstraede 2, DK-9220 Aalborg Eastand ManagementDenmark


Invited contributors and title of their presentations:
Detailed program (tentative)

Preparation for Boje's part of this: Please download 20 Storytelling Paradigms; 18 are beyond 1st 3 waves of Grounded Theory, and are basis of two new books in menu at your left about 4th wave approaches.# 20 is True Storytelling Ontology

Detailed program: A Discourse Activist Perspective on Organizational Storytelling

Tuesday 8 May

9.15-10.00: Welcome, coffee and introduction, by Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen 10.00-10.45 David M. Boje,True Storytelling PART 1: INTRODUCTION (slides part 1) can save humanity

10.45-11.15: David M. Boje,True Storytelling PART 2: SAVING HUMANITY FROM ITS OWN EXTINCTION (slides part 2) and Antenarrative

11.15-12.00: Marita Svane, Storytelling and Performative Grounded Theory

12.10-13.00: Lunch break 13.00-13.45: Ann Starbæk Bager, Dialectical Discursive Storytelling in Organizational Transformations 14.15-15.00: Emelie Adamsson, The framing of responsibility in remembered media stories of corporate irresponsibility

14.30-15.00: Coffee break

15.00-17.00: Workshop on True Storytelling PART 3: HOW CONSULTANTS CAN USE TRUE STORYTELLING WITH THEIR CLIENTS (slides part 3) led by David Boje

17.00-17.30: Plenum and end of day one 19.00: Dinner somewhere in town

Wednesday 9 May

9.00-9.45: Teppo Sintonen, Strategic Storytelling as Control Mechanism

9.45-10.30: Lars Bo Henriksen, Pragmatic constructivism and organizational change

10.30-10.45: Coffee break 10.45-11.30: Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen, Storytelling and the space of appearance: thinking, action and judgment

11.30-12.00: Plenum and end of the seminar.

12.00-13.00: Lunch




3 True Storytelling Economy Models of 18 by D. M. Boje 2018
"There is not Ground and no Theory in Grounded Theory!"

To find the ground and the theory we need to go beyond its first three waves to a 4th Wave ontology that is a Mother Earth Economy, a Feminist Economy, and a Diverse Economy. In the first 3 waves of Grounded Theory (GT) writing, "There is no Ground and no Theory", but 4th Wave finds both in a Mother Earth Ontology!

4 Waves of Grounded Theory by D. M. Boje 2018

The purpose is to go beyond first three waves of Grounded Theory (GT) to the 'Fourth Wave' of self-correcting ontology approaches

Can we find ground and theory in TRUE STORYTELLING? I work on "true storytelling" with Jens Larsen and Lena Bruun, partners Old Friends Industries

It includes my work on Quantum Storytelling and the leadership approach called Protreptics, rooted in the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who founded a leadership academy in ancient Greece. The access prototype is later developed by Professor Ole Fogh Kirkeby . Protrepo means turning the individual towards what is essential, which is relevant to True Storytelling. The essence is addressed by working with space/room and so-called antenarratives, or:pre-narratives and pre-stories.

True Storytelling Expemplars by Boje 2018In Plato’s Republic, “a true argument is the representation of a human life in a State perfected by justice, and governed according to the idea of good” (p. 10). Truth is mentioned 285 times in the Republic. the dialectical method proceeds “by making mutual admissions of the truth to one another” (Introduction 20).

The Greek Square

MULTIPLICITY & DIALECTIC TRUE STORYTELLING = Continues Plato’s Greek Square (True, Just,  Good & Beautiful)=> Freedom, But with Multiplicity Series focus of Living Story Webs & Antenarrative Forecaring

Is True Storytelling at all feasible within the micro and macro politics of power and disciplinary surveillance? Is an emancipatory True Storytelling of resistance, and liberatory praxis possible?

The protreptic guide, "must be the mirror for the other person" (Kirkeby, 2009: 61). In the Alcibaiades dialogue, pLote writes about the eye of one person viewing another;s eye, see itslef and that which "the virture of an eye is found to occur" and the "soul too - wisdom at any other port of a sould which resembles this" (as cited IBID., p. 51). The protreptic guide in dialectic conversation searches for the core values of The Greek Square (among others) to bring the person to sense of health and well-being, not to unmask them or do expose journalism (IBID, p. 75,p. 85). It is not about the guide defeating a dialectic opponent because the guide ia partner with the other. It is not about developing a narrative geneaology. Rather "protreptic only wants to follow the concept-analytical path, because narratives always create indirect approaches to values, noten not incorporating them, but blurring and distorting them by personal strategies of misconstruction" (IBID., p. 82-83).

A True Storytelling would not be the correspondence theory of logical positivism, nor the consensus theory of social constructivism, but rather an "existential realism" (Bhaskar, 1993: 225) where "dialectics is at the heart of every learning process" (Bhaskar, 1993: 43). 

It is not justt retrospective sensemaking, it is prospective, and now.


The retrospective sensemaker is observing the past, by looking backwards, and is stuck in the narrative-past. The scientific sensemaker is looking down, observing the present, stuck measuring the now. The pragmatist sensemaker is looking forward at all the many antenarrative futures, observing one in particular, and forecaring for its arrival.  These three observers are each affecting the quantum storytelling, changing what is ‘true’ storytelling.

True Storytelling is something Walter Benjamin reflected upon. Walter Benjamin wrote the greatest essay on storytelling of all time. He is the founder of 'true' storytelling. He wanted to be dialectical, to retain his membership inf the Frankfurt School, but Adorno and Horkhiemer thorught Benjamin's notions of fairy tales being a true storytelling of dialectics, too unscientific. Benjamin looked back on the trash heap of history, and did not see much progress, and little that was dialectical.

Benjamin, Walter (2007/1986). The Storyteller” Reflections on the Works of Nikolai Leskov. Pp. 361-378 in Hannah Arendt (ed.) Illuminations. Translated from the German (1955) into English (1968) by Harry Zohn. NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. Storyteller essay is available online 2007, pp. 83-110 with Preface by Leon Weiseltier

Without the listening face-to-face, what Boje, in this essay, calls together-telling: "It is this consistency of truth that has been lost" (Benjamin, 2007/1986: 143).

What happened to 'true' storytelling?

We "sacrificed truth for the sake of clinging to its transmissibility" of narrative and information" (144).

"Wisdom has sometimes been defined as the epic side of truth. Such a definition stamps wisdom as inherent in tradition; it is truth in its haggadic consistency" (Benjamin, 2007/1986: 143).

Benjaminian hypothesis: ‘true’ storytelling is coming to an end, and is not just dialectical historical materialism, but rather is also the Baudelairean “multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life” in the “shocks and conflicts of civilization: (Benjamin, 1999/2002: 443). This “unscrupulous multiplicity” is constructed in the foreground diorama of the material landscape (Benjamin, 1999: 531).  In short, Benjamin’s Arcade Project, by my reading, is an entanglement of dialectical historical materialism with “confirmed multiplicity” (Benjamin, 1999: 801) and testimony to the anguish of the “agonizing phantasmagoria at the heart of flânerie”, the act of strolling through the material ruins of history, and apprending dreams of tomorrow, today (Benjamin, 1999: 22).

I believe Benjamin was setting dialectical materialism in a new direction, what I call a ‘dialectical multiplicity’, the entanglement of Marxist dialectical materialism with an anticipation of Deleuzian multiplicity series. It was rooted in ‘true storytelling’ which Benjamin (2007/1986: 87) saw coming to an end:" The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out. This, however, is a process that has been going on for a long time."  Benjamin was a flâneur researcher, strolling through the wreckage of material history, seeing the work of art and fashion rather than material conditions of class struggle.  

The Paris arcades, those early shopping malls, stain glass encased restaurants and shoe stores, is an antenarrative fot becoming of mall-life of urban society, today. It was for Benjamin a dialectical fairyland, an antenarrative anticipation of the entertainment society, and the cathedral of consumption, in advance of the arrival of Disneyland and Las Vegas gamblers’ idleness.

Benjamin’s ontological method is the nexus of historical dialectic the multiplicity of fashion movements and the montage-fragments, meeting in phantasmagoria of a “thousand intersections and angles” in open teleology of material graphicness (xi) and the “commodification of things.”  I read in Benjamin a parallel to early Deleuzian writing on multiplicity series. Benjamin the flâneur, strolling through the ruble sees phantasmagoria diorama while Deleuze spies phantasm series, the surface effects of a culture that has lost its deep identity. 

William James (1907: 147) says it is the pragmatist who “faces forward to the future” in its multiple potentialities of experience, while the rationalist faces “backward to a past eternity”.  The rationalist and intellectualist suffer the “sentimentalist fallacy” of retrospective sensemaking that can only look backwards (James, 1907: 149).  The scientist critical sensemaker’s ‘true’ storytelling is verification of the senses by scientific method, logic, and mathematical truth of selecting the simplest (least complicated) formula of what is true of the present

For more help in True Storytelling we can turn to Heidegger (1963). For Heidegger it’s the "uncoveredness" (# 220), Being-in-the-world that is "grounded in the world's disclosedness" (# 221) where care is "ahead of itself" and is in "being already in the world" (# 221). Heidegger does not abide just and kind of storytelling.  Our reading of Heidegger is that True Storytelling is "not 'telling a story' ... defining entities by tracing them back to their origin in some other entities", which is much too ontical, something the consultants sell you as an elevator pitch or stump speech ( #7; also Boje, 2014).  Rather, True Storytelling would be a disclosedness of whole Being-in-the-world, authentically, and primordially (# 297). A True Storytelling as a learning dialectic (Bhaskar) would be a return from "Lostness in the 'they'" that allows our "ownmost potentiality-for-Being-its-self" (# 307) to become our authentic self in an authentic historiology (# 497) or "historicality" (# 411), not a shallow historicity of a biological (career) narrative.  Rather True Storytelling is always primordial locus of truth, "grounded in Dasein's uncovering" (# 226) of ontological possibilities, and potentiality-for-Being in-the-world as our "ontological ground" (#229).

Antenarratively, True Storytelling is "pre-ontological" in all kinds of fore processes, ante to ontological constellate the fore-having (before), fore-conception (beneath), fore-structuring (between), fore-sight (bets on the future), and fore-caring for our own liberatory praxis (Boje, 2014; see work with Marita Svane, and articles with Haley and with Saylors). In short True Storying to quote Heidegger is "the meaning of the Being of care" (Heidegger, 1962: # 317), that is pre-ontological in space, in time.

Søren Brier's work as a Peircean scholar who reaches out to combine insights from Luhmann, contributes greatly to our understanding of True Storytelling. Brier's contributions to bio-semiotics and cybersemiotics ground True Storytelling in Heisenberg and Bohr's (p. 717) quantum physics. Brier works with the triadic (dialectic) logic of Peirce, and the cybernetic complex adaptive systems theory of Luhmann. In Peircean pragmatist realism, we are doubly grounded (Brier, 2010: 700). 

1. We are grounded in existing patterns of mind-independent reality, in materialism of the quantum.
2. We are grounded in observer specific biological and epistemologically constituted history and interpretive social practices (e.g. Luhmann second-order cybernetics).  

The Peircean Triadic signs is combined by Brier with Luhmann's three kinds of autopoieisis of self-organizing complexity, which we will extend into Hegel dialectics:

Firstness of cybernetic Significations in individual autopoietic systems (.e.g qualia of feelings; what we now call sensemaking, or more accurate in Peirce, sign-making; what Hegel (1807) called being-for-self)

Secondness of matter, energy and force Significations in social systems autopoiesis (what Hegel called being-for-others). These "explication stories" are are magical-mythical, political, cultural, and socio-economic organizations that are both meaningful and meaningless (p. 709). 

Thirdness of multiple ontological biosemiotic Significations habituated, and embedded living systems of environment (ecosemiotics) evolutionary systems, and (what Hegel called Being for-it-self, and in-itself).   Naturual objects as signs (p. 716). 

Peirce Multiplicity “Freedom can only manifest itself in unlimited and uncontrolled variety and multiplicity; and thus the first becomes predominant in the ideas of measureless variety and multiplicity; It is the leading idea of Kant’s ‘manifold of sense’” (Peirce, p. 79).

Peirce says “introduction of imaginaries into geometry, as a false science…” (p. 136).

Peirce’s Rules of Multiplaction of Probabilities that are separate or independent (174).

For Peirce its about the “multiplication of instances: a case can confirm in probable deduction (p. 201).

“Multiple reiterated behaviour of the same kind, under similar combinations of percepts and fancies, produces a tendency —the habit—actually to behave in a similar way under similar circumstances in the future” (p. 284). 

Multiplication in the age of reproduction (363)

“These different systems are distinguished by having different motives, ideas, or functions” (p. 28).

In sum Jens Larsen, Lena Bruun, and I conclude that True Storytelling is uncovering the ontological and pre-ontological 'real' of 'resistance' from the pervasive practices of micro-physics and macro-politics of power, and its many surveillance and disciplinary technologies.

Ie. ”Being Quantum – Ontological Storytelling in the Age of Antenarratives”, David M. Boje, Tonya L. Henderson, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014

”Proteptik – filosofisk coaching i ledelse”, Ole F. Kirkeby, Jens Larsen o.a. SL forlag 2008

20. True Storytelling

Plato 428-348 BCE; Benjamin, 1955/1968; Kirkeby 2009; Boje, Larsen, & Brunn 2017

Can we return to ‘true’ storytelling that Benjamin saw as lost, to storytelling grounded in Protreptic coaching, and Plato’s Greek Square (true, beautiful, equity, justice)?






3 Storytelling Paradigms that interplay in the Real by DM Boje 2018

I will focus on the interplay of three paradigms: (1) Western Ways of Knowing (WWOK) of Narrative-Counternarrative oppositions, (2) Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK), and the Antenarrative Processes of Becoming & Forecaring that go beyond the first 3 waves of GT..


There will be presentations from

  • Professor David M. Boje, New Mexico State University
  • Associate Professor Frank Worthington, Newcastle University Business School
  • Associate Professor Teppo Sintonen, University of Jyväskylä
  • Associate Professor Marita Svane, Aalborg University
  • Associate Professor Lise Lotte Holmgren, Aalborg University
  • Assistant Professor Ann Starbæk Bager, Aalborg University
  • Professor Lars Bo Henriksen, Aalborg University
  • PhD student Emelie Adamsson, Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University
  • Professor Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen, Aalborg University (organizer of the seminar)

In the seminar discursive approaches to storytelling are discussed with special attention on their potential to foster organizational reflexivity and change. We engage methodological - theoretical, analytical and philosophical - discussions and its implications for practice. For instance, discussions on key concepts and main understandings of aspects such as narratives, stories, dissent, discourse, power, ethics, organizational change together with the position of the involved discourse scholar. Hence, it contributes to the field of Organizational Discourse Studies (ODS), in which scholars are actively involved in dealing with local organizational challenges.
According to several discourse scholars narration and storytelling is viewed as important daily activities that (re)shape reality and identities with certain local and future consequences. Storytelling is understood as situated, plurivocal, multimodal and embodied interactional features that constitute discourses, identities and realities in a dialectical interplay between local and broader discursive dimensions (cp. discourse with respectively a lowercase d (discourse1) and a capital D (discourse2). Storytellers co-author stories/narratives and discourses in local settings that involve a plurality of voices and often run counter to more crystallized narrative and discursive structures, such as political organizational and societal structures.

The seminar discusses approaches that address the ‘smallness’ and the more unformal dimensions of organizational storytelling practices such as small stories, counter-narratives, ante-narratives, dialectical Storytelling, storytelling as political action, true storytelling and the like. Attention is paid to how discourse scholars can oscillate between diverse discursive organizational levels spanning from local here-and-now situations to broader organizational, political and societal spheres (Nicolini, 2009, 2016). The normative and ethical scope is to challenge organizational crystallized ways of saying and doing things together with the socio material and political practices that such activities are embedded in (cp. reflexivity in action; Cunliffe, 2003; Cunliffe & Coupland, 2011; and Butler’s reflexive undoing). The main objective is to foster dissensus-based (Deetz, 2001), democratic, egalitarian and multivoiced organizational and societal practices.