Cover Image: Narrative Change

Narrative Change

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Brilliant! Excellent read about transformational change in an organization. Hansen is a gifted storyteller, drawing the reader into the narrative he is telling. And he does so to illustrate that true, deep, culture-changing change means rewriting a new narrative. Since reading this book, I have already found it helpful, especially in light of the recent death of George Floyd. How are we changing the narrative about race in this country? Church leaders should consider reading this book as its implications are many for leading change in the local church.
Was this review helpful?
I received a pre-publication of this book from Net Galley in exchange for a fair review. Although ultimately a worthwhile read, it takes a lot of patience before Hansen really finds his authorial chops with a drama-laden story about working in Texas to reduce death sentence penalties. His premise is "...we can change the way we think and act, and we can change the way things are done, the way things are understood," by constructing new narratives that can "explain and create deviations from the norm, which is crucial when leading change."      

Thankfully, Hansen doesn't pretend that we can just wish happy thoughts or think positively and magically our thoughts will lead to better outcomes and better lives. There is a lot of work that needs to occur before we can adopt a different "story," and approach a thorny problem because "narratives condition us to see the world in particular ways, and how we see things determines how we act or respond." If we can step back and analyze the current narrative and the norms and expectations that created it, we can examine alternative ways to reframe the issue and therefore work to begin changing the story. Hansen does a masterful job as a teacher blending theory and practical examples to demonstrate how this works, and his anecdotes about working on some of these difficult cases was inspiring.

However, Hansen could have benefited from a more stringent editor. In the introduction (and persisting throughout the book but to.a lesser extent) there is a browbeating of repetitive themes.  ("Narratives are central to change and overlap conceptually with change."; "Narratives represent our understanding of reality, the way things are, or the way we would like things to be."; "Our shared values are carried in popular narratives that outline the way things are, how they should be, and how we should act."; "Narratives condition us to see the world in particular ways, and how we see things determine how we act or respond.";  "To summarize, narratives guide how we think and act." ) All of this is in the introduction! 

Additionally, the first two chapters have at least 16 cliches (and I am being generous).  {"A voice in my head," "lives were on the line," "arm's length," "fly-on-the-wall," "seeds for change," "hell-bent," "drive us crazy,"...}. And yet, please ignore this ignominious beginning,  because once he begins to tell his story about confronting difficult facts, institutional racism, a defacto agreement by publicly-appointed defense lawyers and judges that prevented them from being overly aggressive in challenging judges' rulings from the bench, and the perception of so many people wondering how he and his colleagues could represent individuals who have already been convicted of some admittedly heinous crimes, all while patiently explaining how his team was so successful in preventing death penalty sentences, that the reader is solidly with him and almost cheering for him to be successful.

He also talks about other businesses--Uber in particular, and some of the narratives that existed earlier with its  frat-like behavior, and how Uber could go about changing the corporate culture narrative that devalues women, promotes a cut-throat environment and that led to lawsuits and investigations--- along with his personal battle with alcohol, his experience trying to achieve tenure and surreally, the experience of meeting with Hollywood to sell his life story. As a result, this book blend various genres--memoir, business, sociology, self-help, law--- that probably didn't need to be stuffed within this one book, and this lack of focus ultimately distracts from a story that didn't need any additional digressions.

I want people to read this book as I think the underlying story and the concept of how one goes about changing a habit, belief, practice, etc., is brilliant. I also appreciate the doggedness, humility and courage of the author that makes one root for him. There is material in here that would make for a best seller, but lack of consistent writing and the digressive focus ultimately detracts from the otherwise riveting and brilliant material that exists.
Was this review helpful?
I think there is an audience for this book, but it's not me. 
I've read many books on influence and persuasion - so this is not knew to me. However, for someone just starting on a quest for this information, this book would probably be a 4 star or 5 star for the newbie reader. 
A bit dry at times, while other chapters were informational with an entertaining element. For me, I'd rate it a three, however, I don't want to dis-way readers not to give it a try, so I'm going with 4 stars.
Was this review helpful?
How Changing the Story Can Transform Society, Business, and Ourselves? How changing what and how you say can influence the situation outcome? Narrative part is very important. Negotiations and big wins in business and life depend on your story content and emotional color.
Was this review helpful?