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Storytelling Interventions in Global Water Crisis

Book remains online until published by UK/NY: Singapore: World Scientific Press
By David M. Boje 

It is time for a storytelling paradigm shift. Here is what I propose:

Storytelling Paradigm Shift Proposal
Figure 1a: Storytelling Paradigm (Theory, Method, and Interventions)










Quantum Storytelling Theory

Narrative Retrospective


Narrative-Counternarrative Dialectics


Ensemble Leadership Theory

Antenarrative Prospective Sensemaking

2nd Wave Grounded Theory

3rd Wave

Grounded Theory

4th Wave

Grounded Theory

1st Wave Grounded Theory



Self-Correcting Induction Method






Quantitative Induction

Qualitative Induction

Narrative Quantification




Critical Accounting

Storytelling Multiplicities Analyses



Socio-Economic Storytelling

Critical Accounts

Appreciative Inquiry

Text-based Restorying


Restorying Process

True Storytelling

Figure 1b: Storytelling Paradigm Shift


Although storytelling is the preferred sensemaking currency of business, it is past time to call for a shift in the business storytelling paradigm. The old paradigm has linear theory assumptions, tends to engage in crude methods of induction or reduce everything to quantification, without providing a method of qualitative inquiry.  The old business storytelling intervention practices need to catch up with ways to get past fake storytelling and regimes of truth imposed from above to ensembles of storytelling participation. Finally the old business storytelling paradigm is wedded to ‘Western Ways of Knowing’ (WWOK) that has marginalized ‘Indigenous Ways of Knowing’ (IWOK). The new business storytelling paradigm recognizes IWOK as having more sense of place than WWOK abstract space, being about cycles and seasons rather than linear historical chronological time, and  having a sense of matter existence that is in touch with the natural world, rather than reducing it to resources for sale.

We therefore seek to extend new theories of prospective sensemaking, quantum storytelling (how humans are connected to the environment, not separate), the relation of narrative-counter narrative dialectics to dialogic webs of multiplicity. We seek to go beyond earlier waves of Grounded Theory that lack both ‘ground’ and ‘theory’  to the more ontological approaches to existence. The business storytelling has a consequential role in the environment faces so many super wicked complexity problems, from climate change to gender, wealth, and racial inequity, to more wars over water.

We seek method breakthroughs such as self-correcting induction, a proposed method by Charles Sanders Peirce to deal with the crude induction. This can include methods of storytelling that incorporation ethnostatistics, qualimetics, and critical accounting. There are socio-economic approaches to business storytelling and ways to get beyond the method bias of business to the quantification of existence to the qualitative inquiry that is more than ‘crude induction.’

A new business story paradigm needs intervention practices that go beyond mere social constructivism, short-term shareholder wealth maximization, and disembodied textual narratives to the work in embodiment, critical accounts for the voiceless and marginalized, socioeconomic storytelling for socially responsible capitalism, and true storytelling principles as an alternative to fake news and fake leadership that infects the old business storytelling paradigm.

The purpose of the new book is to come up with a storytelling paradigm shift to mitigate the local, regional, and global water crises.

The empirical evidence is all around us: collapsing aquifers, 60% die-off of marine life in last few decades, deforestation, desertification, bioaccumulation of carcinogenic toxins, and Keeling’s Curve of CO2 Climate Change summarily ignored by the Business Schools of America, a civilization in climate denial

SLIDE SHOW: How to Research the Fresh Water Replenishment STORYTELLING Claims of Coca Cola?

Water is an ensemble of three multiplicities (Preface to new book):
1.Extensive Multiplicities of heterogeneous spaces of varieties of water mattering differently in ice, vapour and liquid states, in bodies of glacial water, lake, river, ocean, artesian springs, aquifer groundwater, and in all living bodies as élan vital (life force).
2.Intensive Multiplicities of heterogeneous times of water duration (dureé) mattering of water-now-past, water-now-present, and water-not-yet.
3.Virtual Multiplicities of real water in consumed in all phases of production, distribution, and consumption in ‘Water Capitalism.’


Hints on Deconstructiong Coca-Cola Storytelling:

1.Use Coca-Cola Annual Sustainability Report for such claims
2.Then Study the Claims and ‘auxiliary assumptions’ in photos, graphs, numbers, and text
3.Check out Coke’s collection of stories and those ‘auxiliary assumptions’
4.Check out the counter-stories of people living around Coke bottling plants and their ‘auxiliary assumptions’
5.Learn the facts about Fresh Water Scarcity and Water Stress on planet Earth so you can make new ‘auxiliary assumptions’ to test out on the next Coke stories and counter-stories for farmers around the world

then pick a story from Coca-Cola's Water Map and do begin to research the context, history, and other sides of the story

You have heard of Peak Oil, how we are fracking on the downside of that roller-coaster curve. Next ride is 3 Peak Water Crises (renewable water, non-renewable water, and ecological water, i.e. the BLUE WATER).

Figure 2: Summary of the Inivitability of Water Apocalypse

We will apply STORYTELLING THEATER concepts from Michel Foucault’s Language, Counter-memory, Practices book to look at how Coca-Cola uses stage deirection, scenic images, and thespian trickery to make you the consuming public believe Coca-Cola replenishes more aquifer groundwater than is used in its colas and bottled water production. ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, and History; Foucault (1977) essay from the above book Source. Most other quotes I use in this analysis are from chapter on ‘Fantasia of the Library’ Foucault, 1977). Source

What is Total Water
            of Planet Earth

Figure 3: World Water Supply is140 Million Billion Gallons

My thesis is that while Water Capitalism is dialectically opposed by Water Democracy, neither will avert the inevitability of Water Apocalypse. Therefore a third way, I call Blue Revolution is possible if we look at the ensemble of multipplicities the dialectic polemics is ignoring, or just too blind to see.

Figure 4: Relation of Water Apocalypse to the Blue Revolution

The above figure summarizes the new book: Business Storytelling and the Inevitable Water Apocalypse (book remains online until published by UK/NY: Singapore: World Scientific Press -- David M. Boje

Hey, I did not say avertying Wate Apocalypse, finding our way to Blue Revolution would be easy. What is clear, is the science is telling a true story. Satellites don't lie.

Ground Water Apocalypse

Figure 5: The Groundwater Aquifer Depleation, Water Apocalypse in the United States (NASA photo)

This map is a bit of 'true storytelling, a visual narrative of the groundwater aquifer supply in mid-September 2015. It compares the average for the same time of year between 1948 and 2012. Dark red represents areas where dry conditions have reached levels that historically occur less than 2 percent of the time (once every 50 or more years). (NASA 'The West Dries Up', image from Pérez Ramos, 2016: 46).

"Business storytelling research needs a new method to deconstruct what Michel Foucault (1984) would call its ‘regimes of truth.’ Be skeptical of business storytelling, the entire TamaraLand (Boje, 1991, 1995) of water supply chains, bottle water purveyors, marketing ads about health effects of bottled water, municipalities adding fluoride to your drinking water, regulators influenced by Titan-multinational water company’s lobbyists, and especially distrust business schools teaching water strategies to MBAs. You will need a way to deconstruct this sort of business storytelling if we are to find the ‘antenarratives’ of Blue Revolution in time to avert Water Apocalypse." See book link above

There is hope. Not every businessman is a Scrouge. David Bamberger 50 years ago, retired and used his Church’s Chicken fortune to purchase 5,500 acres of overgrazed waterless hill country near Johnson City, Texas, he named Bamberger Selah Ranch Preserve. He planted grasses to soak in what little rain fell on hillside to actually replenish aquifers. Bamberger devoted the rest of his life to restoring the degraded landscape. Today, the land has been restored to its original habitat and boasts enormous biodiversity. Bamberger's fresh water stewardship and land conservation can be replicated across the dried up regions.

Bambergerranch.org ‘Selah Bamberg Ranch Preserve,’ accessed Jan 20 2019 at https://bambergerranch.org

National Geographic video “Selah, Water from Stone” accessed Jan 20 2019 at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/video/shorts/924773443513/ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSPkcpGmflE

"Blue Revolution is an extension of my earlier storytelling research work. In my last two books (2019a) ‘Global Storytelling: There is No Planet B’ and (2019b) ‘Organizational Research: Storytelling in Action’, I introduced a few fragments of this new storytelling methodology, which I called a ‘Fourth Wave ‘Grounded Theory (GT) Storytelling Methodology.’  In the Global Storytelling book (2019a: 11 in the original) I summarized it:

“… I propose what I call ‘ontology of existence’ 4th wave GT methodology to address the question: ‘how we can live in peace and harmony in the material world of planetary boundaries?’  I call it ‘self-correcting’ induction-deduction-abduction.”  I applied ‘true storytelling’ ethics (Boje, Larsen, & Brunn, 2017) in a scientific way, by doing longitudinal successive self-correcting comparisons, in a search for a ‘Ground’ and a ‘Theory’ for the nine processes changing so radically that current approaches to Globalization are ill equipped to save humanity from Sixth Extinction. “… Just look at plastic water bottles, plastic shopping bats, and so on. These are fatal to marine line, to sea birds, who either are caught in them, or ingest them. Plastic swirls in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are as large as France” (Boje, 2019a: 12 in original manuscript).

The ontology of our very existence on this planet, that is 70% water, of which about ½ of one percent of it is fresh drinkable water to assuage the thirst of one’s physical body, which is also 70% or more water, the entire ‘Blue Revolution’ definitely needs this ‘self-correcting storytelling methodology’ to sort our the fake storytelling of ‘Water Capitalism’ (Loomis, 2013, White, 2013; Boje & Saylors, 2018). This ‘Water Capitalism’ business storytelling is prescribing ‘market forces’ ‘privatizing’ and ‘commodifying’ freshwater to solve the ‘water scarcity’ of over four billion people.  The business of producing and sell us microplastics that break down polluting all the oceans, killing 60% of marine life, is just part of the ‘Water Apocalypse. “People eat the fish, oysters, and lobsters and so on that have ingested the microplastics” (Boje, 2019a: 12 in original manuscript).

The 4th wave storytelling methodology extends C.S. Peirce’s idea that by sequential sampling, each time forming abductive proposition, we can approach self-correcting induction, and find that Black Swan, in the long run. We need a self-correcting analysis of the whole history of water business storytelling, and the ways in which ‘Water Wars’ (Shiva, 2016) are happening around the world. Peirce wrote of ‘the constant tendency of the induction process to correct itself” as the “essence” and “marvel” of induction (as cited in von Wright, 1941/1965: 160; Boje 2019b: 17 in original). We need that self-correcting process to not only deconstruct, but to transform business storytelling into something that might actual manifest ways to avert water shortages, water wars, get the toxic chemical pollutants out of public water works, and fix the leaky water infrastructure." - See book link above

Self-Correcting Storytelling Methodology

"In the ‘Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action’ (2019b) book, I developed introductory aspects of this ‘self-correcting storytelling research methodology’ about developing “fair samples” to verify 4th Wave GT inferences by applying Charles Sanders Peirce (1931/1958:  Vol. I: 28) as quoted in Georg Henrik von Wright (1941/1965: 160). Professor von Wright also quotes Peirce (1931/1958: Vol. II: 455f, 501f): “the constant tendency of induction process to correct itself” as the “essence” and the “marvel of induction.” Professor von Wright (1941/1965: 159, italics in original) inaugurates it a “self-correcting operation,” and claims it is ‘the best mode of reasoning about the unknown… on the principle that future experience will be in conformity with the past.” I say its time we tried Peirce’s method of getting to deduction from induction, as the basis for storytelling research methodology. By definitions this ‘self-correcting storytelling methodology’ means arriving at a deductive generalization by a process of successive correction to find one’s way to any black swan deviant in what we initially experienced as only white swans everywhere. As von Wright (1941/1965: 160) calls it, self-correcting induction gets to deduction by “finding one’s way of from the labyrinth” in “self-correcting operation” that leads to a “true generalization” and some true storytelling from the water business TamaraLand." - See book link above

"Keep in mind C.S. Peirce only wrote a few sentences about a self-correcting induction-deduction-abduction method, and as yet no one in GT or storytelling research has tried it. I have been working with doctoral students I mentor (Mabel Sanchez, Thomas Kleiner, James Sibel, Anna Stevenson, Etieno Enang, Russ Barnes, and Sabrina Dadder è encouraging them to try it out in their dissertations. At the 8th annual storytelling conference (December 2018) all of us (except Etieno) got together and drew diagrams about how to do ‘self-correcting storytelling methodology.’ I also work wed with Jens Larsen, Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen, Don Pepion, Tyron Love, Duncan Pelly, Gregory Cajete, David Trafimow, Grace Ann Rosile, Manal Hamzeh, Yue Cai, Mark Hillon, Rohny Saylors, Jillian Saylors, and forty others at the conference to sort out this new approach to storytelling methodology".

Perice develops three kinds of induction, and only the 'Crude Induction' has been attempted in Grounded Theory.

3 Types of Induction

Figure 6: Three Types of Induction in Peircean Triadic of Abduction-Deduction-Induction

What I am proposing is a self-correcting storytelling methodology be attempted in 'Qualitative Induction' by obeying Peirce's(1931/1960, Vol. I: paragraph #95” pp. 39-40) two rules for resolving the classic problem of 'inductive fallacy':

  1. “The first of these is that the sample must be a random one.”
  2. “The other rule is that the character toward the ascertainment of the proportionate frequency of which in the lot sampled [the sampling is done], must not be determined by the character of the particular sample taken” (bracketed addition, original).

Figure 7: Self-Correcting Storytelling Methodology to deconstruct and transform Business Storytelling from the business-as-usual Death Spiral into Upward Spiral Momentum for the ‘Blue Revolution’

Boje Storytelling Research Books

Boje, David M. (2014). Storytelling Organizational Practices: Managing in the quantum age. London: Routledge.
Boje, D. M. (2016). Organizational Change and Global Standardization: Solutions to the Standards and Norms Overwhelming Organizations. London/NY: Routledge. 
Boje, David M. (2019a in press). Global Storytelling: There is No Planet B. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.
Boje, David M. (2019b). Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action. London/NY: Routledge.